Training Program

The University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital is the only comprehensive health care center in Iowa offering the full range of Pediatric Critical Care (ECMO, VAD, CRRT). Unique to Iowa, our 28-bed unit includes the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (PCICU), both led by our faculty and fellows, and is a Level 1 Trauma Center.  

The 36-month curriculum is divided into approximately 18 months of clinical rotations and 18 months of research. Each rotation is 2-4 weeks in duration. 

First Year

  • PICU Days – 12 weeks
  • PICU Nights – 10 weeks
    • Total PICU Time
      22 weeks
  • CVICU – 8 weeks
  • Anesthesia/Sedation – 6 weeks
  • Research – 16 weeks

Second Year

  • PICU Days – 8 weeks
  • PICU Nights – 8 weeks
    • Total PICU Time
      16 weeks
  • CVICU – 8 weeks
  • Elective – 2 weeks
  • Research – 26 weeks

Third Year

  • PICU Days – 8 weeks
  • PICU Nights – 8 weeks
    • Total PICU Time
      16 weeks
  • CVICU – 4 weeks
  • Research –
    32 weeks

Our unit operates as a PICU team and a CVICU team during the daytime, but one combined team at night. This allows fellows additional exposure to high-acuity patients throughout the year. Fellows do a night float rotation Monday – Friday but still take 24 hour call intermittently on weekends. 

Our fellows serve as medical control for all admissions to the PICU. This is an excellent opportunity to learn how to establish effective communication with outside providers to ensure patients are cared for and transferred safely. While first years are heavily supervised during their initial rotations, the majority of transport/admission calls are managed by second and third fellows independently.

Elective opportunities include rotations in or with the cath lab, echocardiography suite, burn unit, cardiothoracic surgery, PICC line/procedure, bronchoscopy, or additional research time.

Former Fellow Quotes

“Iowa’s PICU is a busy, high acuity program with cardiac patients, ECMO and trauma. I loved the relationships I built with patients and families, the breadth and depth of complex pathophysiology I learned to treat, the top-notch people I got to work with every day and the resources of the pediatric hospital within a large medical campus. The experience I gained at Iowa prepared me so well to lead both a large academic ICU team and a smaller community ICU team. I learned to care for sick kids and their families with expertise and compassion.” Paige Volk, MD (PICU Fellow 2003-2006)

“The training at Iowa is second to none. In addition, the PICU fellowship team is committed to the health and well-being of the trainees. Life happens to doctors, too. It matters that you train in a place where people care for you and want the very best for you. I had that at Iowa and I know that remains the core value of the program.” Paige Volk, MD (PICU Fellow 2003-2006)

“Ten years after graduating from my fellowship the words of advice and wisdom of the incredible faculty who trained me still echo in my head as I’ve cared for patients in both the PICU and CICU at Texas Children’s Hospital. I am grateful for the amazing teaching I received and hope to do the same for my trainees.” Gwen Erkonen, MD (PICU Fellow 2007-2010)

“I’m so thankful for my training at the University of Iowa. At Iowa, I got to practice big city medicine in an affordable, fun and extremely livable small city. The training I received prepared me very well for the transition to the role of attending in a busy mixed cardiac/general PICU. The attendings are great people and great doctors. I learned not just how to treat critical illness but how to truly care for patients and families.” Mike Van Dyke, MD (PICU Fellow 2012-2015)

“My fellowship at UIowa was an incredible experience. I had the opportunity to care for children with a wide variety of illnesses and illness severity while learning from the best! The gradual autonomy given over the course of my training helped prepare me for the transition to attending physician.” Ashley Sandeen, DO (PICU Fellow 2013-2016)

“I love the Iowa PICU Program!
- Warm and friendly learning environment with mixed bread and butter diseases and rare diagnoses
- Endless research opportunities.”
Weerapong Lilitwat, MD (PICU Fellow 2016-2019)

“I feel that our PICU fellowship at Iowa is vastly underrated. I have had a great experience in training with excellent divisional role models and mentors, variety of clinical cases and acuity, and good clinical volume. Our center is big enough to see it all yet not too big where one becomes lost in a sea of trainees.” Mitchell Luangrath, MD (PICU Fellow 2017-2020)