Please Welcome Dr. Joyce Goins-Fernandez to the Department!

Dr. Goins-Fernandez received her BS in Psychology from Xavier University of Louisiana in 2000. She completed her pre-doctoral internship at Butler University/BehaviorCorp (a consortium) in 2009.  Next, she received her PhD in Counseling Psychology at the University of Iowa in 2012.  Upon graduation, Dr. Goins-Fernandez worked as an Adjunct Professor for Mount Mercy University and as a Research Associate for the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics until 2014.  Most recently, Dr. Goins-Fernandez worked as a licensed Psychologist for the Belin-Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, Assessment and Counseling Clinic.

We have recruited Dr. Goins-Fernandez for outpatient neuropsychology and psychology testing services. Please join us in welcoming Dr. Goins-Fernandez to the Department!

Dr. Howe Accepted into APA Educational Scholars Program

Congratulations to Dr. Erin Howe who was recently accepted into the Educational Scholars Program of the Academic Pediatric Association!

This program targets present or future faculty in academic pediatrics who wish to build their skills in educational scholarship. Educational scholarship is the development, implementation, evaluation and/or dissemination of educational interventions or evaluation methods by a creative, planned and rigorous process that is consistent with best practices in the field and reviewed by peers for excellence.

Rewriting the Brain Pathway for Consciousness

Study in patients challenges old pathway, suggests better targets for treating coma

With a finding that will “rewrite neuroanatomy textbooks,” University of Iowa neurologist Aaron Boes, MD, PhD, and his colleagues show that the thalamus is not a critical part of the brain pathway involved in keeping humans awake and conscious.

The finding upends decades of medical dogma that placed the thalamus as a critical relay point for the signals originating in the brainstem and ending in the cortex that maintain consciousness (wakefulness). The new study, published online Nov. 12 as a preprint in the Annals of Neurology, provides the first systematic evidence from humans that questions the routing of this critical pathway. The study evaluates patients with strokes of the thalamus and shows that even extensive injury to the thalamus does not severely impair consciousness.

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The 2018-2019 Performance Review Period is Now Open

The annual performance review cycle is underway.  The Department of Pediatrics has established a goal to have all performance reviews completed no later than February 28, 2019.  Below is an outline of the necessary steps to complete this process. Please review the Self-Evaluation Guidelines for assistance on completing a well-rounded self-evaluation. You will need to send your completed self-evaluation form via the online performance review tool to your supervisor no later than December 14, 2018.

P&S Review Process

  1. Employee initiates “Create New Review” in Online Performance Review Tool.
  2. Employee completes self-evaluation, either using the system tool or utilize paper self-evaluation form that can be uploaded into the system (attached). This should be completed and sent to supervisor in the online performance review tool by December 14th.
  3. Supervisor utilizes request feedback option in Online Performance Review tool.
  4. Supervisor completes supervisor comments and rating in the Performance Review tool (does not finalize). Supervisor should upload employee’s self-evaluation into system at this time.
  5. Supervisor has discussion with employee.
  6. Supervisor clicks “Finalize Performance Review” which sends the form to employee for acknowledgement.
  7. Employee electronically signs form and adds additional comments.
  8. Performance Review is automatically uploaded into employee’s ePersonnel file.

 You can access the Performance Review tool and last year’s review through Self-Service under the Personal tab.

If you need a copy of your current job description to use as a reference during this process, you may email the general Pediatrics HR email address (listed below).  In the event your job duties and responsibilities have changed or evolved over the last year, please work with you supervisor to update the attached job description and return an updated copy to Pediatrics Human Resources.

Please do not hesitate to email with any questions.

Faculty Elected to the Society for Pediatric Research


Drs. Darbro, Fischer, Staber, Tansey and Wood were recently elected to the Society for Pediatric Research. Congratulations!

The Society for Pediatric Research provides professionals the opportunity to focus on improving child health through high quality research. SPR encourages and supports research endeavors by creating a network of multidisciplinary researchers for the purpose of connectivity within the pediatric community. As a diverse, innovative group of people, SPR offers collaboration among its members for research in order to create meaningful progress for the future of children’s health.

Dr. Wacker Puts Mentoring Program in the Spotlight

Dr. David Wacker, Professor Emeritus, put the Department’s Mentoring Program in the spotlight in a recent issue of Behavior Analysis in Practice, particularly with regard to the behavior analysis training program.


“A unique aspect of the behavior analysis training program in the Department of Pediatrics at The University of Iowa is that there has never been a formal training program. We have never had an official funded internship or fellowship program, and there are no required courses (our faculty has taught only one course entitled “Behavioral Assessment and Evaluation” in the College of Education on a voluntary basis for the past 30 years) other than practicum courses within our clinical services. Fewer than half of the 45-plus students who received their PhDs with us came to Iowa to train with our staff or faculty, or to become behavior analysts. Instead, most enrolled in the School Psychology or Special Education PhD programs, and via the course or practicum experiences, came in contact with our faculty and staff in applied behavior analysis and then committed to becoming behavior analysts for their doctoral training.”

NICU Receives GOLD-level AACN Beacon Award for Excellence

Please congratulate the Nursing Leadership and Nursing Education Team with Emily Spellman leading the charge on winning a GOLD-level AACN Beacon Award for Excellence for our NICU from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) recognizing individual hospital units that improve patient outcomes.

The Beacon Award for Excellence lauds North American hospital units that employ evidence-based practices to improve patient and family outcomes and we are one of only nine NICU’s with a Gold Designation.

This is a major honor with fewer than 300 out of more than 6,000 intensive care units both adult and pediatric and both medical and surgical in the United States who have received this award.

This is a very significant national recognition of the quality of care provided by the nurses to our patients in the NICU and is highly deserved.

Drs. Zhorne and White Receive “You Make a Difference” Awards

Dr. Leah Zhorne (Neurology) and Dr. Kaitlin White (current PL3 and upcoming Chief Resident) have received “You Make a Difference” Awards from patients and their families. The statements from their respective families are below.

“Dr. Zhorne and her staff including Prairie were very helpful during an appointment for my son. After a less than pleasant previous experience they made a huge difference this time. Very thankful!”



“I just believe that Kaitlin is very down to earth, very good bedside manner. She is very caring, understanding and compassionate. When we couldn’t understand something, she would explain it in layman’s terms.”




Department Receives $4.5 Million Gift

The Department received a generous gift of $4.5 million from the Jacobson Foundation based out of Des Moines. This gift from the Jacobson Foundation will create an endowed chair for the Division of Medical Genetics and Genomics, as well as an additional Chair to be named, for $2 million apiece. The gift will also provide $500,000 to support training and recruitment of needed pediatric specialists for the state of Iowa.

Grant Writing Seminar 2018 Registration Deadline Reminder

The Research Development Office in the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development (OVPRED), in collaboration with the Carver College of Medicine Office of Faculty Affairs and Development, are pleased to announce that Dr. John Robertson from Grant Writer’s Seminars and Workshops (GWSW) will conduct the Write Winning Grant Proposals Phase I seminar on Friday, October 26, 2018. A Phase II workshop sponsored by OVPRED will be held in February 2019.


DATE: Friday, October 26, 2018, The Hilton Garden Inn (328 S. Clinton Street)

TIME: 8:30 a.m. — 4:30 p.m.

COST: $150/person (includes grant writing workbook & lunch)

REGISTRATION DEADLINE: Noon, Monday, October 8, 2018

For additional details and to register: