A new orthopaedic surgeon with special training in orthopaedic trauma has joined the CHOC Children’s Orthopaedic Institute team. Dr. Jessica McMichael specializes in the care and treatment of fractures and a variety of pediatric musculoskeletal disorders, including limb and foot deformities, and cerebral palsy.
A fierce advocate for families, Dr. McMichael strongly believes in treating patients and parents how she would want her own family to be treated.
“I like to take the time to listen to my patients and their families’ questions,” she explains. “I also know that if they’re at the clinic or hospital, they have probably taken time from work, school or other duties, and I want to show them that their time is valuable to me.”
Dr. McMichael approaches every parent interaction with her “mom hat” on.
“Being a mother changed me 100 percent. I always reinforce to parents that they know their child better than I do. I encourage them to listen to their intuition,” says Dr. McMichael, a mom to a toddler. “It’s about building a relationship with them.”
Dr. McMichael’s interest in orthopaedics started as a young girl. She remembers the exact moment. She idolized a friend’s older cooler sister, who shared that she was studying to be an orthopaedic surgeon. When Dr. McMichael learned what an orthopaedic surgeon did, she knew that’s what she wanted to do, especially if it meant being just like her idol.
Dr. McMichael earned her medical degree from Saint Louis University School of Medicine where she also completed her residency. She then served as an orthopaedic surgeon in the U.S. Air Force in Korea. Later, she provided trauma care training to military personnel as an adjunct faculty at the Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills in St. Louis, Missouri. Dr. McMichael completed her pediatric orthopaedic surgery fellowship at Shriners Hospitals for Children Northern California/UC Davis Medical Center.
It was during her fellowship at Shriners when Dr. McMichael became captivated by her young patients’ resilience.
“It was so invigorating to take care of someone who just wanted to play and get better,” she says. “It’s like kids are programmed to do well. That helps in their care and recovery.”
Dr. McMichael is working with the CHOC team to develop a multidisciplinary comprehensive bone health program, which would include conditions like osteogenesis imperfecta, a disorder characterized by brittle bones.
Dr. McMichael is a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon with the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgeons. She is a member of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America, the Orthopaedic Trauma Association, and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
In her spare time, Dr. McMichael enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, reading, camping, and participating in any Disney-related activities.