Karen Pierce, M.D.

Dr. Karen L. Pierce knew she wanted to become a pediatrician after one of her sisters had a tragic accident as a child. She wanted to help.

After some time at school, she fell in love with psychiatry as she learned about the complexities of the brain. Dr. Pierce earned her undergrad in psychology and her M.D. at the University of Illinois in 1974 and 1978, respectively. She then came to the University of Michigan completing an internship in psychiatry in 1979, her residency in psychiatry in 1981 and a fellowship in child psychiatry in 1983. She was chief resident of child psychiatry by 1982.

Dr. Pierce noted that she believes the training she received at the University of Michigan was top-notch.

“There were three women in leadership in our residency for the first time,” Dr. Pierce said during a phone interview. “Dr. Bernard Carroll, the chairman of the department at that time created an entire grand rounds program on women in psychiatry. It was amazing. It solidified my identity in the psychiatry world.”

Eventually, Dr. Pierce moved back to Chicago with her husband. Today, she mainly works out of a private practice in Lincoln Park, Illinois but also has a role as Clinical Associate Professor of Child Psychiatry at Northwestern University and in the past at Rush University.

In her free time, Dr. Pierce enjoys spending time in schools educating people about psychiatric illnesses. “I enjoy working with patient advocate groups and being an ambassador for kids,” Dr. Pierce said. “I am lucky to be in the lives of my patients. When you take the hand of a child you take the heart of their mother. I do not take this lightly.”

Dr. Pierce also volunteers with her various professional societies often. She is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA). With the APA, she is a member of the Council on Quality, and the Council on Adolescents & Children. For the AACAP, she is on the board of the Political Action Committee and is also a member of the Collaborative Care Committee, and the Women's Committee. She writes, speaks, and consults in the area of children and adults with ADHD, learning disabilities, anxiety, and behavior treatment. She is Past President of the Illinois Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Dr. Pierce also helped develop the American Academy of Pediatrics evidence-based guidelines on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in 2011, along with the ADHD toolkit and book for parents. She is co-chair of the Project Management Center of Excellence (PM-CoE) ADHD Work Group to develop quality measures for ADHD care. She also worked on the American Medical Association guidelines for treatment of depression in children.

“I still feel strongly connected to Michigan and my mentors, especially when I think about the rich education I gained at UM,” Dr. Pierce said. “I come back to Michigan for a football game every year. Michigan is in my blood. I grew up at Michigan, and my mentor’s wisdom lives in me.”