Surgeon Bios

I became an orthopaedic surgeon because...

I came to medicine by a non-traditional route. After my undergraduate degree in psychology, I worked in the snowboarding industry, marketing and sales, had some education in acupuncture, and planned small and large-scale events. I came to realize I wasn’t 100% fulfilled and discovered that void to be medicine. During medical school, I found orthopaedics. The first time I saw a joint replacement was when I shadowed an orthopaedic surgeon as a 1st-year medical student. I had the opportunity to see this major surgery — and only days later, see the very same patient walk into the surgeons office for the post op visit. This made a major impression on me. The ability to restore form and function was so attractive, and sparked that initial interest. I recalled that even as a child, I had always been fascinated with the mechanics of how things work – and now the mechanics of bones/joints/tendons/ligaments. By the time I entered clinical rotations later in medical school, and spent time with the orthopaedic surgery department, the desire to be an orthopaedic surgeon was cemented.

What is the most rewarding part of being an orthopaedic surgeon?

There are so many rewarding parts of being an orthopaedic surgeon. But, one of my favorite moments, is when I discharge a patient from my clinic. Now that may sound odd, but what it means is that I’ve seen someone who came in with a functional problem, likely pain alongside it, and I’ve taken them through a full course of treatment. They may have started with conservative management, such as physical therapy, home exercises, medications, activity modification. Those that didn’t return to full function with that may go on to surgery. And after surgery, the patient has successfully rehabbed the joint involved. The rehabilitation is often even tougher for the patient than the surgery itself…this is what takes determination, hard work, grit, perseverance. I often tell my patients that it is a long road ahead, and that the surgery is the “easy” part. I love that visit, where I bring the patient back for one last check, and I see how far they’ve come. I live fairly close to where I work, so my personal life intersects with my work life often. For example, I often see my patients when I’m grocery shopping. And this is where I say, “How about I just run into you at the market from now on?”. I can’t tell you what a big grin this brings to peoples’ faces, including mine.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I’m a wife and a mom to a school-aged child and we enjoy the splendors of the Pacific Northwest. As a family, we enjoy hiking, paddleboarding, biking and exploring our city. I also am a budding tennis player and general fitness fan. I try to live the active lifestyle I encourage my patients to, by incorporating cardio, strength and flexility into my routine. I also am a serious foodie and enjoy our vibrant craft beer scene in Portland.

In what volunteer activities or efforts do you engage that mean the most to you and those you serve?

I’m a Science Communication Fellow at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). The program is for members of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) community and helps us develop solid communication skills to share our world with real-world audiences. As a scientist volunteer at OMSI, I interface with the public with exhibits such as “Meet A Scientist”, so that I can share what I do as an orthopaedic surgeon with curious learners of all ages and all walks of life. I’m really excited to share the world of orthopaedic surgery with the members and guests of OMSI. Sharing my work with the public and in particular, inspiring young girls and women of underrepresented groups, is my passion, so this opportunity at OMSI is perfect!

I also serve as a member of the Junior League of Portland, an organization of women, committed to ending the cycle of violence against women and children.

I take care of high school, college and amateur level athletes field side (and slope side) as well. It’s an honor and a privilege to serve as a volunteer team physician for Portland Interscholastic League high school students, Multnomah University, the IAAF World Indoor Track and Field Championship and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team.

Ortho-pinions by Dr. Nancy Yen Shipley

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