Nicole Harter, MD, always knew she wanted to work with children.
As a dermatologist, though? That took her by surprise.
"I loved procedures," she said, remembering when she was deciding on her specialty. "I loved being more specialized. So I wanted to find a pediatric procedural specialty where I could work with children and families, but also use those procedural skills."
When a friend suggested she speak with a pediatric dermatologist, Dr. Harter said, "I didn’t even realize that was an option."
As she explored the subspecialty, though, Dr. Harter discovered that dermatology was, in her words, "intensively medical." She found that the specialty incorporated pharmacology, oncology, surgery -- and, as she explored further, she found "a group of happy physicians who were so passionate about what they were doing."
Now, Dr. Harter arrives at UNMC and Children’s Hospital & Medical Center as the inaugural chief of division of pediatric dermatology, a new position (and division) at the institutions.
"This opportunity is unique," she said. "There are not a lot of brand-new pediatric dermatology divisions being created, and not a lot of them are going to have a new chief that hasn’t been a chief at a previous institution. It was something I couldn’t turn down."
She also jumped at the chance to work again with UNMC Department of Dermatology Chair Ashley Wysong, MD. Dr. Wysong was a mentor to Dr. Harter during her residency training in dermatology at the University of Southern California.
"When we formed the partnership with Children’s to develop a pediatric dermatology program and opened a nationwide search for a chief for the new division, I immediately had Dr. Harter at the top of our list," Dr. Wysong said. "Dr. Harter is a brilliant physician, a skilled proceduralist, a dedicated teacher, and all around inspiring individual. It takes a special person to launch a new division from scratch and I knew we had a winning combination with Dr. Harter. The impact that Dr. Harter and her team will make on our community and region cannot be understated. Our entire dermatology faculty at UNMC is thrilled to welcome her to the team!"
Kari Simonsen, MD, chair of pediatrics, said the department was delighted to welcome Dr. Harter.
"It is a tremendous addition to have an academic pediatric expert available to serve children with complex skin conditions and to contribute to the teaching and scholarly missions of UNMC," Dr. Simonsen said.
"The department Dr. Wysong has helped grow from early infancy is flourishing and thriving," Dr. Harter said. "She’s helped create something with really clear vision, excellent leadership and very strong collaboration, and I wanted to be part of that. I already know that Dr. Wysong is an incredible leader."
With the support and resources from the UNMC and Children’s collaboration, she said, "we’ll be able to bring in people who are really invested in our goals, our mission, our vision - we can build this new division very carefully, from the ground up, learning and leading along the way."
Part of that growth process, she said, would be letting the community at large, including other dermatologists, know what the new division will bring to the table.
"As we all know in the pediatric specialties, children are not little adults," Dr. Harter said. "They require a different, nuanced approach.
"All dermatologists are trained to see children as part of their education and residency, and many are very good at it," she said. "But my entire focus is subspecialty pediatric skin disorders."
Looking ahead, Dr. Harter is hoping to grow the program, adding other pediatric dermatologists on faculty and providing comprehensive outpatient and inpatient services as well as the development of multidisciplinary clinics.
She also is excited to have a teaching role.
"A big part of why I love working in academics is the training aspect," she said. "We’ll have pediatric residents with us, dermatology residents, and in the future a pediatric dermatology fellowship. Being able to bring these learners into our clinics and show them what pediatric dermatology has to offer is important for their education, and also for the care of the community at large."
The academic setting -- as well as Children’s pediatric focus -- also will allow for exciting collaborations, she said.
"I love being able to reach out to a pediatric endocrinologist, rheumatologist or surgeon with questions, or to help when they call me with questions. I also am excited by how the two institutions -- Children’s and UNMC -- really are interested and invested in each other. There’s a lot of open communication and collaboration."
Welcome to UNMC and CHMC!
Welcome aboard, Dr. Harter. Omaha is lucky to have you!
Welcome Dr. Harter! We are so excited to have you at UNMC and CHMC to help with our patients!