Chair and Department Executive Officer Peggy Nopoulos

Welcome to the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Iowa! As the Department Chair, 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. 

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. The original program was created as part of the “psychopathic hospital” movement in which freestanding psychiatric hospitals were built in close association with a medical college. In 1991 the department was relocated to the new John Pappajohn Pavilion within the University of Iowa Health Care Medical Center, where the bulk of training now occurs. 

Our program has continuously evolved in response to a continuous process of self-evaluation. In the past few years, Dr. Alexander Thompson and his leadership team have revamped the overall didactic curriculum, reformatted the bi-monthly Chair Rounds (a weekly case conference led by rotating faculty), revised the psychotherapy didactics and training requirements for residents, implemented a small-scale outpatient experience for second-year residents, and developed resident “panels” for third-year residents in the university's outpatient clinic to create a more training cohesive experience.

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. The research of these and other experts provides residents with the latest information about the causes and treatments for many mental disorders.

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). Recently, we have developed a formal “research track” that provides research opportunities and mentorship from the first year on for those residents deeply interested in research. Additionally, several of our residents have participated in the Carver College of Medicine’s Physician Scientist Training Program. This unique program provides opportunities for mentorship, peer support, and funding to support lab-based 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 national awards. These have recently included election as a Member-in-Training Trustee of the American Psychiatric Association, winning a Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry Fellowship, and winning a Geriatric Mental Health Foundation Scholarship. 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 residents have gone into clinical positions, others have headed towards fellowships, including psychosomatics at the Cleveland Clinic and at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, mental health services at the University of Washington, and schizophrenia research at Mt. Sinai in New York. Several of our residents have matched in prestigious child psychiatry fellowships at Yale and Boston Children’s Hospital (Harvard). 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