September 19, 2019

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.”

 

Advance Practice Providers

Congratulations, it is an Honor to Feature
Kathy J. Green, MSN, FNP-BC
TPMG – Neurology at Williamsburg

 

Whenever she meets new patients, Kathy Green likens each one to an onion. Her job is to ask the questions that peel back their layers so she can understand them on a deeper level, which is when she can truly help them. 

Green, a nurse practitioner with TPMG Neurology, prioritizes educating her patients on how they can protect their brain health, often by minimizing risk factors or making simple lifestyle changes that may ward off or lessen debilitating symptoms. 

“Many patients tell me, ‘Wow, no one’s ever asked me that question before,’” Green says. “It’s so important to take that one-on-one time with them, so I can take them under my wing and show that I care and have confidence in them. I really love each one of them.” 

Many of Green’s patients are recovering from strokes, coping with migraines, headaches, or exhibiting signs of cognitive decline. Increasingly, research has shown that controlling blood pressure, exercising, losing weight as needed and quitting smoking can be equally – if not more – effective than medication for proper brain function, she notes.  

In addition to scheduling annual checkups with a primary care physician, Green urges patients to socialize, tackle new activities and play memory games on a daily basis, from learning a foreign language to taking group fitness classes to enjoying a fast-paced card game. She herself picked up kayaking this past year, often with her poodle-Pit Bull mix, Lexi, along for the ride.  

“People can become complacent as they get older,” she notes. “They stay at home and don’t engage or challenge their brains. You need to consistently push barriers and use all of your senses to build and maintain neural pathways.”

For headache and migraine patients, quick fixes such as improving posture, hydrating well, sleeping with a flatter pillow, or switching to a different work desk can guard against neck or lower back issues that frequently contribute to chronic pain, she adds.  

Green has wanted to be a nurse since early childhood. Yet she had temporary second thoughts when she worked part-time in an emergency room while an undergraduate at Longwood College in Farmville. 

Witnessing the hectic pace and sometimes-gory jobs that nurses had to handle, Green pivoted to a chemistry major and spent five years as a chemist for a pharmaceutical company in Richmond. There, she helped develop methods for the Food and Drug Administration to analyze new medications. 

“It was very interesting, but I truly missed taking care of people,” she recalls. “I went back to school to become a registered nurse and have been in love with my job ever since.” 

Green earned her RN credentials at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond, followed by a master’s degree in Nursing Education from George Mason University and a post-master’s certificate as a Family Nurse Practitioner through St. Joseph’s College of Maine. Her first nurse practitioner positions were in family medicine and urgent care. 

In 2018, Green switched to neurology after she and her husband, a leadership consultant with a law enforcement background, moved from Northern Virginia to Williamsburg, which is a favorite vacation spot. Looking for a more focused specialty, she also valued the patient-centered approach of the neurologist in her practice, Patricia Mayes, MD.  

“We both worry about our patients, even after we’ve gone home,” Green says. “It’s important to motivate patients, celebrate small accomplishments such as losing five pounds, and even let them vent their frustrations when needed.  All of that can be part of the healing process.” 

Meanwhile, Green has passed along her passion for caregiving to her children: her son is a firefighter/medic; her daughter is a neuroscience major at Christopher Newport University and will attend Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg next year. 

“This career is so rewarding,” Green says. “The brain is fascinating, and there’s never a one-size-fits-all approach to care.”

Just like no two onions are quite the same.  

We are grateful for local Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants who serve our health care community! 

Please let us know if there is an NP or PA you would like to see honored in a future edition. holly@hrphysician.com