LITTLE ROCK, AR. (Aug. 17, 2023) – Arkansas Children’s is promoting physician leader and child advocate Karen Farst, M.D., M.P.H., to senior vice president and chief medical officer for Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) in Little Rock, concluding a monthslong national search.

Farst leads the Child Maltreatment program at ACH, where she also serves as chief of medical staff. She was the first physician board-certified in Child Abuse Pediatrics in the state of Arkansas. 

A professor of Pediatrics and Section Chief of Children at Risk in the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Medicine, Farst also served two terms on the Child Abuse sub-board of the American Board of Pediatrics.

“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,” said Rick Barr, M.D., executive vice president and chief clinical officer of Arkansas Children’s. “For the past 20 years, she has been the state’s leading advocate for the most vulnerable children, reducing trauma after trauma by building collaborations and partnerships that shine a light on the very dark subject of child abuse and neglect.”

Farst will move into the role over the course of the hospital’s fiscal year, ensuring coverage for her leadership responsibilities and a seamless transition.

She attended medical school at Texas Tech before completing her medicine-pediatric residency and chief pediatric residency at UAMS and Arkansas Children’s. Following three years of primary care practice in Northwest Arkansas, she completed her Child Abuse fellowship at Cincinnati Children’s before returning to the faculty at UAMS and Arkansas Children’s. She completed her MPH at the UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health.


Arkansas Children's is the only healthcare system in the state solely dedicated to caring for Arkansas' more than 700,000 children. The private, non-profit organization includes two pediatric hospitals, a pediatric research institute and USDA nutrition center, a philanthropic foundation, a nursery alliance, statewide clinics, and many education and outreach programs — all focused on fulfilling a promise to define and deliver unprecedented child health. Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) is a 336-bed, Magnet-recognized facility in Little Rock operating the state’s only Level I pediatric trauma center; the state's only burn center; the state's only Level IV neonatal intensive care unit; the state's only pediatric intensive care unit; the state’s only pediatric surgery program with Level 1 verification from the American College of Surgeons (ACS); the state’s only magnetoencephalography (MEG) system for neurosurgical planning and cutting-edge research; and the state's only nationally recognized pediatric transport program. Arkansas Children’s is nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report in seven pediatric subspecialties (2023—2024): Cancer, Cardiology & Heart Surgery, Diabetes & Endocrinology, Nephrology, Orthopedics, Pulmonology and Urology. Arkansas Children’s Northwest (ACNW), the first and only pediatric hospital in the Northwest Arkansas region, is a level IV pediatric trauma center. ACNW operates a 24-bed inpatient unit; a surgical unit with five operating rooms; outpatient clinics offering over 20 subspecialties; diagnostic services; imaging capabilities; occupational therapy services; and Northwest Arkansas' only pediatric emergency department, equipped with 30 exam rooms. Generous philanthropic and volunteer engagement has sustained Arkansas Children's since it began as an orphanage in 1912, and today ensures the system can deliver on its promise of unprecedented child health. To learn more, visit


UAMS is the state's only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS' clinical enterprise. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,240 students, 913 medical residents and fellows, and five dental residents. It is the state's largest public employer, with more than 11,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children's, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.

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