Psychiatry Chair and Department Executive Officer

Welcome to the Family Medicine-Psychiatry training program at the University of Iowa! As the Department Chair in Psychiatry, I am excited about our educational mission. We are a highly regarded psychiatry department nationally in clinical care and research. We similarly believe we are a top department in the educational domain, as we are deeply committed to excellence in teaching, and have had great success in turning out well trained and highly sought after residents. Certainly our Family Medicine-Psychiatry residents have consistently been superb. 

We are very proud of the success of our combined training programs. We are one of only three departments in the country that has both a combined Family Medicine-Psychiatry and a combined Internal Medicine-Psychiatry residency. These programs are built on the strong backbone of our department’s historic commitment to medical psychiatry. Witness former Department Chair George Winokur’s 1994 book The Medical Basis of Psychiatry, and the 2010 book edited by another former Department Chair, Bob Robinson, along with Clinical Professor Jim Amos, Psychosomatic Medicine: An Introduction to Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry. 

The department has been training psychiatrists since the 1920s, with the first of these being Dr. George Sprague, who graduated in 1922. He went on to a distinguished career that included being on the committee that wrote the first Diagnostic and Statistical Manual or DSM, in 1952. Training in the combined Family Medicine-Psychiatry program began in the late 1990s. 

Our Program Director and Associate Program Director, Drs. Michelle Weckman and Alison Lynch, are wonderfully suited to their roles, as both are graduates of the program, and both straddle the two disciplines. They work together well, and provide ample support and guidance to the residents in the program. 

Our faculty includes some of the world's most distinguished investigators, whose presence contributes to a spirit of inquiry. For example, Dr. Nancy Andreasen, has made key contributions to our understanding of clinical features and brain structure changes in schizophrenia. And Dr. Bill Coryell has illuminated the long-term course of mood disorders. The research of these and other experts provides residents with the latest information about the causes and treatments for many mental disorders.

Residents have an opportunity to learn and ask questions of leaders in their field, including, for example, Dr. Black, an expert on anxiety and impulse control disorders, and Dr. Michael Flaum, an expert on the treatment of schizophrenia, and President of the American Association of Community Psychiatrists. Faculty members receive high marks for their teaching and for providing high quality patient care. Teaching occurs through didactic courses and seminars, but also through informal interactions. I personally see patients with our residents and discuss case formulation and management with them. A casual atmosphere encourages interaction between residents and faculty. 

Many residents have published the results of research projects or literature reviews under the supervision of a faculty member, an activity that provides another valuable educational experience (about 60% do so). Some of our residents participate in the College of Medicine’s Physician Scientist Training Program. This unique program provides opportunities for mentorship, peer support, and funding to support research. 

Our goal is to provide residents with a broad education that will prepare them for life-long self-learning and dedication to the practice of psychiatry at the forefront of evolving knowledge. We seek to provide residents with a variety of educational experiences so that they may choose among the many available career options. Our residents consistently score high on national examinations and frequently receive awards. These have recently included becoming the APA Member-in-Training Trustee-Elect, winning the American Society of Addiction Medicine Ruth Fox Scholarship and the Association of Medicine and Psychiatry Martin Fenton Award, and being named a Laughlin Fellow of the American College of Psychiatrists. The success of former residents in both clinical practice and academic settings attests to their quality and to the effectiveness of our training program.

While many of our Family Medicine-Psychiatry residents have gone into clinical positions, others have headed towards fellowships and academics, including positions at the University of Washington and UCLA . We are quite proud of these trainees as their excellent placements point to the high quality of the people who train here. It reflects well on the educational experience that is provided by our training directors and by all of our teaching faculty. It also highlights the esteem in which our program is held by these other outstanding medical centers.

We welcome your interest in the department, and look forward to getting to know you and letting you know more about the terrific opportunities that exist here in Iowa City. Both the city and the department are wonderfully friendly places with a strong sense of community. Come have a look. You’ll like what you find!
 

Peggy Nopoulos, MD
Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Pediatrics
Chair and Department Executive Officer of Psychiatry

Professor of Psychiatry, Pediatrics and Neurology