February 20, 2020

Advanced Practice Providers

Congratulations, it is an Honor to Feature
Michael Mitchell, PA-C
Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center, Suffolk


Beyond his rewarding job as a Physician Assistant, Michael Mitchell is an athlete, a husband and father of four, and a man dedicated to community service.

As a fellowship-trained, general PA orthopaedist, Mitchell handles cases from simple fractures to severe arthritis. He is grateful for the chance to watch his patients heal while still having time to spend with his family and on volunteer work, including fundraising for a domestic violence shelter and multiple projects through his beloved fraternity the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

“Being a PA gives me the freedom to practice cutting-edge medicine and be the family man and community member that I need to be,” he says. “The ability to help restore patients’ quality of life and see those results, especially if someone struggled with significant pain, is awesome.”

Mitchell has wanted to practice medicine since his childhood in rural Mississippi, where his mother, Mary, worked as a renal dialysis technician. Seeking the challenges and respect that come with a career in medicine, he joined the Navy after high school and served as a hospital corpsman and operating room technician for 10 years.

As his career advanced, Mitchell earned a bachelor’s degree in Behavioral and Social Sciences from the University of Maryland University College, followed by bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

After four years as a Navy primary care PA, Mitchell followed a mentor’s advice and applied for an orthopaedic physician assistant fellowship at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, the last duty station of his 24-year Navy career.

Mitchell graduated from the NMCP Bone and Joint Sports Medicine Center in 2008, with rotations in hand, foot and ankle, fracture and trauma, adult reconstruction, pediatrics, sports, podiatry and spine. While he now partners with Dr. Bryan Fox, a spine specialist at SMOC, Mitchell has put that wide training into good use.

“With the autonomy that Dr. Fox gives me, I’m able to treat all types of patients, from neck to foot cases,” he notes. “I can either take care of non-surgical issues myself or send them to a specialty surgeon as needed. I enjoy the variety, and I’m able to offload work from our surgeons. Having the surgical training, they really trust my judgement.”

Advances such as kyphoplasty for compression fractures and radiofrequency ablation for arthritic joints have transformed many patients’ lives, Mitchell notes. He recalls one older woman who was in excruciating pain after a fall in her home, had an in-office kyphoplasty treatment for a spinal compression fracture and felt great by her one-week follow-up.

A former high school baseball player, longtime recreational softball player and avid golfer, Mitchell fully understands the desire to return to action. He fractured his hand in baseball and has recovered from ankle sprains and shoulder bursitis.

“I understand the rehabilitation process,” he says. “I love working to restore patients’ anatomy and function to get them back to where they want to be.”

Being a role model also is important to Mitchell. He has assisted in fundraising for the Help and Emergency Response (H.E.R.) Shelter in Portsmouth and, through his fraternity, distributed holiday baskets to needy families, mentored youth with absent fathers, connected students with college scholarships, and participated in blood drives and highway cleanups.

“Our young black males should see people who look like them succeeding professionally and giving back,” he says. “That way, they know they can be something other than what tends to be portrayed in movies, television shows or music.”

Mitchell and his wife, Toni, live in Chesapeake and are devoted parents to four children, ages 13, 19, 24 and 27. As a PA, he aims to recreate that same family atmosphere.

“Anyone in pain needs – and deserves – to feel welcomed and encouraged,” he says. “All my patients should know that I’m committed to do everything I can to help them recover.”