Dr. Tara Andersen attributes a solid foundation, hard work and family values to her success in medicine

Lynn Marr-Moore
Dr. Tara Andersen attributes a solid foundation, hard work and family values to her success in medicine

“An apple a day keeps

the doctor away,

but if the doctor is cute,

forget the fruit.”


Dr. Tara Faaborg Andersen is a pediatric hospitalist, which according to her is a pediatrician who specializes in caring for newborns and children who are admitted to the hospital with illnesses.

You might think this story starts here, but it doesn’t. Let’s back up to the age when Dr. Andersen was a child who could have or maybe even did, see a pediatrician.

At one time, Dr. Andersen was Tara Faaborg. She grew up in Nevada and in fact, met her husband when they were in the same kindergarten class in Nevada under Mrs. Gustafson. Chad Andersen was that cute little guy that is now Tara’s husband.

After being married to Chad for 15 years, they live in Ankeny and have three children of their own.

“Chloe is 9 years old, Lucy is 6 years old and Simon is 4 years old,” Dr. Andersen tells.

Tara Faaborg did grow up in Nevada. The daughter of Nevada residents Rhett and Denise Faaborg, she graduated from Nevada High School with the class of 1996, where she was involved in speech and drama activities.

“My favorite was the musical production of ‘Bye Bye Birdie,’” she said recently. “I was very involved with the drill team, where I was captain my senior year. I was also in band, jazz band, cheerleading and chorus.”’

Tara excelled in the classroom as well. She graduated valedictorian of her class in 1996 and was on the honor roll every semester while she was in high school.

Those good grades helped her to pursue her career in medicine.

“I attended the University of Iowa from 1996 to 2000, graduating with my B.S. in biology,” Tara explains. “I was accepted at Des Moines University and graduated with my Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine in 2004. From there I completes my pediatric residency at Children’s Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., which included an additional year as pediatric chief resident.

While attending the University of Iowa, Tara tells that she was involved in the dance marathon and the honors program.

“I received the Presidential Scholarship and performed laboratory research on the genetics of cleft lip and palate in children,” said Tara.

When asked what she attributes her success in life to, she responded: “The key to success for me is to endeavor to be compassionate in any interaction with others. Kindness and empathy are so important in understanding everyone around you.”

Spending time with her own children is very important to Tara.

“The single most important thing that I do each day, and without which my day feels incomplete, is to tuck my children in to bed each night,” explained Tara. “It is during that quiet time that we have our most important conversations and that I am able to truly listen to them.”

Growing up and living in Nevada provided Tara with a foundation.

“Childhood in Nevada was a wonderful foundation to me,” she tells. “During that time, Nevada was small enough that we were trusted to ride bikes alone to friends’ houses and that we could walk anywhere we wanted to go, but I also have fond memories at working at my father’s business, County Landscapes, doing various jobs including potting and watering trees, receptionist and estimator. I spent many fun summers at the old pool working as a lifeguard. It was a perfect place to grow up.

Tara tells how she was at one time very shy.

“Joni Upchurch Madsen was the speech teacher and drama coach in high school,” tells Tara. “She was instrumental in helping me overcome my painful shyness and helping me build my confidence.”

“My family has always been of the utmost importance in my life,” said Tara. “My parents taught me the value of education and generosity, and are always there to help me to this day. And now, being a parent myself is a wonderful gift, as my children remind me daily of the importance of laughter, accountability and snuggling.”

When not making rounds at Mercy Children’s Hospital in Des Moines, Dr. Andersen tells that free time is family time.

“Most of my free time is spent with my family,” she said. “We stay busy playing outside, going to the zoo, the Science Center or an apple orchard. My most rewarding activity is fostering animals from the Animal Rescue League, who come to live in our home for a few weeks to a few months. We help them gain weight or build confidence so that they are more successful in finding their forever homes. We also love attending Iowa State University events, including football games, basketball games and volleyball games. And although I’m not very useful in the kitchen, I have been told that I make the best cupcake frosting in the entire world.”

Dr. Tara Faaborg Andersen is living proof that a good foundation, much love and hard work pays off both in her occupation of taking care of sick children and in raising her own family.