The first doctor in her family, Dr. Nichols comes from a family of professionals with an entrepreneurial spirit she also embraces. Originally interested in plastic surgery, she was drawn to dermatology for the combination of “patient interaction, long-term relationships, and also ‘getting my hands in there’ as they say.”
Educated at Harvard University and NYU Medical center, Kim Nichols, MD completed her dermatology residency at King-Drew/Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, where she served as Chief Resident. She practiced for several years in New York City before founding NicholsMD of Greenwich in Connecticut. The boutique practice is managed and staffed entirely by women.
WHY ESTABLISH A WOMAN-OWNED AND MANAGED PRACTICE?
I always wanted to run my own practice. As a woman owner, I knew I wanted the management to also be women, because I think that’s where we need the most support as women in business and in life—getting hands-on. I think it’s beneficial to build partnerships with other women who are doing business for themselves instead of women in corporate America where they don’t necessarily get to be at the very top.
It’s really worked out. Even entry level employees in our small organization still get experience in both the medical side and the financial side that they wouldn’t necessarily get at a bigger firm. And we’re growing! My aim is to make sure that wherever they go, that they will have this under their belts as a great experience with other women.
WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED IN ESTABLISHING YOUR PRACTICE?
One of the challenges—and it’s not necessarily particular to women—is time management: Having big dreams but only having 24 hours to fulfill them or even less. I had to focus to carve out time for myself, my family, and my business. At certain points you want to push everything to one side. So there’s always going to be a challenge and a struggle, although it’s fun and exciting.
Dermatology presents unique opportunities, because it’s such a women-centered field in terms of beauty and competence—all these things that are not solely for women but historically have been. We have a unique ability to talk to our patients in a way that they understand, because we’re empathetic to it. We know exactly what they’re going through and may be feeling. That puts us in a unique spot as female dermatologists and business owners.
HOW DID YOU APPROACH BRANDING?
Branding has been vital since the beginning. Our brand centers on building confidence and clean beauty, not in the sense of organic, but in the sense of a natural look—what women really want. A lot of the brand is me personifying that. Keeping authentic throughout all our branding as we grow has been essential, even down to our colors and our logos. I want patients to see an article or a picture or social media post and know immediately that it’s NicholsMD. And I think that over these last eight years, we’ve established that.
In March, we opened Skin Lab. This is a new practice that is more centered toward accessible care for the millennial age group, but still with that high standard branding. So I think that, even in a different demographic, they would still know that these two practices are associated. That’s really been important throughout and will continue.
WHAT RESOURCES OR MENTORS DID YOU DEPEND ON?
Number one would be my mentorship through Women’s Dermatologic Society during my residency. I had a month with Fran Cook-Bolden, MD in New York City, for whom I ended up working for almost seven years after residency. It worked out very well. She was such a great mentor, because she taught me about both sides, not just taking care of the patient and the procedures but even more importantly running your own business, the financial side of it. That was essential.
I’ve really tried to pass the baton, as it were. We make a point usually in non-COVID times to have at least one or two interns every couple of months. I have female residents come into the practice. I tell them with a lot of externships, it would be great if it works out like it did for me and leads to a job long-term, but it also is great if it doesn’t work out and you discover what you don’t want to do. Both things are important when you’re building your career. So I hope that I continue to do that for the young people coming through.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST PERSONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT? GREATEST PROFESSIONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Personally would be, of course, my family, my children. I give them a model of how you can work and be a good mom at the same time, but not necessarily always be there for everything. I definitely think that is a big accomplishment of mine. I hope they would say the same. Professionally, I’d say is my mission to create this business and to grow it with mainly female managers. So far so good! We’ve been a success, and I hope to make it even bigger as we expand and grow.
Kim Nichols, MD, FAAD
Kim Nichols, MD is a board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon in Greenwich, CT where she owns her own practice, NicholsMD of Greenwich. She is a graduate of Harvard University as well as the NYU Medical School.