Division of Infectious Diseases

New Faculty Spotlight – Dr. Nicolas Cortes-Penfield

Tell us about the position you are starting?

I’m joining the Infectious Diseases Division as an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Medical Director of UNMC’s Outpatient Parenteral Antimicrobial Therapy (OPAT) program.  My clinical practice will be primarily devoted to seeing patients on the Orthopedic Infectious Diseases hospital service, meaning I’ll work with orthopedic surgeons at Nebraska Medicine and Ortho Nebraska to treat patients who have infections involving bones, joints, and implanted orthopedic devices (e.g. artificial knees and hips).  I will also see patients on the General Infectious Disease hospital service, which cares for hospitalized patients with a wide range of infections and symptoms suggesting infection.  In the outpatient clinic, I will primarily be following up with patients seen by Orthopedic Infectious Diseases in the hospital to monitor and continue their treatment.

As the Medical Director of our OPAT program, I will help ensure that patients who need to continue antimicrobial therapy after leaving the hospital receive the drug(s) best suited for their individual situations.  When patients leave the hospital we try to give antimicrobials by mouth instead of intravenously whenever possible, because oral antimicrobials are often equally effective, less bothersome to administer, less costly for our patients, and avoid the risks and discomfort of having an intravenous line at home.  That said, some patients have infections with organisms that cannot be treated with oral antibiotics, or have particularly severe infections that may respond better to intravenous therapy.  For these people, my job will be to help ensure they receive the correct dose and duration of intravenous antimicrobials, receive appropriate safety monitoring bloodwork while on therapy, and have their intravenous lines removed promptly after completing their courses of treatment.

Background:

I was born and raised in Austin, Texas and completed my undergraduate education at The University of Texas at Austin. After graduating from UT-Austin, I went on to complete medical school, residency in Internal Medicine, and clinical and research fellowships in Infectious Diseases at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.  In 2019 I brought my family to Omaha to join the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Why UNMC?

I knew that I wanted to stay in academic medicine and build a career focused on research and medical education. Interviewing at UNMC, what struck me most was the friendly and enthusiastic demeanor of all of my prospective colleagues.  It was clear to me that the other junior faculty in the ID section felt supported in their varied career pursuits – clinical service, research, education, administration, etc – and were satisfied with their work/life balance.  I also saw the Orthopedic Infectious Diseases position as a wonderful opportunity to develop expertise in a new, important, and rapidly growing niche within the field of Infectious Diseases.

Something interesting about me not related to medicine:  I am a classically-trained saxophonist and recorded with the UT Saxophone Choir in college.  I’m fascinated by the microorganisms that live all around us and on weekends can often be found tinkering with them via baking, home brewing, working in our backyard garden or pond or compost pile, etcetera.

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