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Arkansas Children’s Hospital selects child abuse specialist as chief medical officer

By: - August 18, 2023 4:35 pm
Arkansas Children's main campus in Little Rock

Arkansas Children’s main campus in Little Rock (Courtesy of Arkansas Children’s Hospital)

Arkansas Children’s Hospital chose Dr. Karen Farst, the state’s first board-certified physician to specialize in child abuse pediatrics, as senior vice president and chief medical officer, the hospital announced Friday.

Farst was previously the hospital’s chief of medical staff and child maltreatment program leader. She is a professor of pediatrics and the head of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ Children at Risk program, which provides medical evaluations and treatment for abused and neglected children.

Dr. Karen Farst, Arkansas Children’s Hospital Chief Medical Officer (Courtesy of Arkansas Children’s)

In addition to her medical degree, Farst has a master’s degree in public health from UAMS. She completed two pediatric residency programs at UAMS and Arkansas Children’s, as well as a child abuse fellowship at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Rick Barr, executive vice president and chief clinical officer at Arkansas Children’s, called Farst “the state’s leading advocate for the most vulnerable children” in Friday’s press release.

“Dr. Farst is exceptional at building partnerships and adept at navigating some of the most challenging systems to ensure children’s safety and well-being,” Barr said.

Farst succeeds Dr. Gregory Sharp, an Arkansas Children’s and UAMS pediatric neurologist who stepped down from the role of chief medical officer earlier this year. 

Farst was chosen from a nationwide pool of candidates, according to the press release.

Her expertise in child abuse and neglect has made her a witness in several court cases in which parents were charged with child maltreatment, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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Tess Vrbin
Tess Vrbin

Tess Vrbin came to the Advocate from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, where she reported on low-income housing and tenants' rights, and won awards for her coverage of 2021 flooding and tornado damage in rural Arkansas. She previously covered local government for The Commercial Dispatch in Mississippi and state government for the Columbia Daily Tribune in Missouri.