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Episode 10 - Medical Model: A Surgeon's Care


Episode Expert: Michelle James

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Michelle A. James MD is a pediatric hand surgeon. She serves as Chief of Orthopaedic Surgery at Shriners Hospital for Children, Northern California in Sacramento, CA; Division Chief of Pediatric Orthopaedics at University of California Davis Medical Center, and Professor of Clinical Orthopaedic Surgery at UC Davis and UCSF Medical Schools. Dr. James received her MD from UC San Diego and did her orthopaedic surgery residency at UCSF and her hand surgery fellowship at the Indiana Hand Center. She joined Shriners Hospital for Children in 1991.

Dr. James cares for children with hand malformations, post-traumatic deformities including burns, and neuromuscular conditions (brachial plexus birth injury, spinal cord injury, and cerebral palsy). She focuses on the child’s function and performance, especially from their own perspective. Her greatest professional joy is learning from a child or parent that an intervention has improved their ability to accomplish a task that is important to them. Dr. James has served as Principal Investigator for 7 funded studies (5 multi-center, 2 single site) of children’s hand and upper extremity function. Her current funded studies include an investigation of early MRI diagnosis and prognosis of brachial plexus injury, and an evaluation of outcomes for children with hand burns. She has published over 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals, and recently served as Co-Editor, with Dr. Michael Chapman, for the 4th Edition of Chapman’s Comprehensive Orthopaedic Surgery. She has received multiple teaching awards and has served as Visiting Professor on many occasions, nationally and internationally. She is an Honorary Professor at La Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Nicaragua.

Dr. James’ other professional activities include Director and Vice President of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (2006-2016) and member and Vice Chair of the Residency Review Committee of the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (2008-2013). She has served as Deputy Editor for Hand, Upper Extremity and Topics in Training for the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery since 2006.

Although she loves her work at Shriners, Dr. James’ most fulfilling professional work occurs at a pediatric hospital in Managua Nicaragua, where she has traveled twice per year for the past 10 years along with multiple friends and colleagues, caring for hundreds of children and successfully training a local orthopaedist to become a pediatric hand surgeon. From a personal perspective, Michelle met her wonderful husband in high school; they have been married for a very long time, and they have 2 adult daughters.

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