Our Team


David Nielsen, D.O.

Dr. Nielsen obtained his degree in medicine at the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, Missouri. He completed a residency in Orthopedic Surgery at Ohio University in Dayton and a fellowship in Hand, Upper Extremity and Microvascular Surgery at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Dr. Nielsen served on the staff of the hand section at the Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Tampa prior to founding the Charlottesville Orthopaedic Center. He specializes in the medical and surgical treatment of all musculoskeletal conditions of the shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand, as well as general orthopaedics.

Dr. Nielsen has met the rigid standards of the Certificate of Added Qualification in Hand Surgery in addition to being board-certified in general orthopedics. He also serves as the Chief of Orthopedic Surgery at Martha Jefferson Hospital, and belongs to numerous national and regional societies and lectures locally as well as across the country.

Dr. Nielsen enjoys spending quality time with his daughter, in addition to traveling, cooking, music, and various outdoor and sporting activities.

Specialties: Hand, Wrist, & Elbow; Shoulder; Hip & Knee; Sports Medicine; Minimally Invasive Orthopaedics; Fracture Care; Joint Replacement, Stem Cell/PRP

Natalie Smith, PA-C

Natalie Smith grew up in central Indiana. She attended Wake Forest University where she played collegiate volleyball and graduated with degrees in Health and Exercise Science and a Masters in Management. After Wake Forest, Natalie worked for several years at a healthcare consulting firm in Chicago, IL until she decided to return to school to become a physician assistant.  She obtained her Masters in Physician Assistant at Jefferson College of Health Sciences in Roanoke, VA.  During a clinical rotation as a PA student, she had the opportunity to work with and learn from with Dr. Nielsen. After she graduated, she practiced in Family Medicine for three years until she had the opportunity to join Dr. Nielsen in his own practice. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and children as well as continuing to play volleyball.


Denise Minor Radiologist Medical Assistant

Denise Minor

Office Manager, Radiologic Technician

Denise obtained an Associate’s Degree in Radiologic Technology from Southwest Virginia Community College in 1996.  She joined Charlottesville Orthopaedic Center in February 2004, working as an X-Ray technician before becoming the Office Manager in 2007.  She still performs x-rays in our practice as needed.  She loves watching college sports with her husband, Chadd, and walking the trail at Monticello.

Dakota Withers X-Ray Technician Surgical Medical Professional

Dakota Withers

X-Ray Technician/Orthopedic Technician/Surgical Assistant

Dakota completed his initial medical training with the United States Army, becoming a combat medic in 1993.  In 1997, he started working in the civilian medical field where he honed his many medical skills learned in the Army at various medical facilities in Charlottesville. He joined Charlottesville Orthopaedic Center in May 2003 as an orthopaedic tech and shortly afterwards obtained his limited radiologic technician license.  He fills many roles now, assisting the physicians and staff both in the office and the OR. Now with over 28 years of service and multiple deployments, he is still active in the National Guard serving as the First Sergeant for a local medical company. He is happily married to his wife Karen and they both enjoy spoiling their son Synjin.

Andrea Buluma

X-Ray Technician/Orthopedic Technician

Andrea received her Associates Degree in Radiologic Technology in 2014 at Tarrant County College in Fort Worth, Texas where she was born and raised.  After graduating from high school in 2010 she increased her share in her greatest passion, volunteering to teach all sorts of people the Bible. Later in November of 2015, she moved to Charlottesville, Virginia in order to help with a growing need for teaching the Bible to those who speak the African language ‘Swahili’. She greatly enjoys all the time she spends in her volunteer work, especially being able to do it together with the best husband in the world, Byadunia! They love being able to do volunteer work together along with just spending time together. And let’s not forget her other love: dark chocolate!


Michelle Payne

Patient Services Specialist

Michelle is the face and voice of our office.  She is the first person you see when you come in and the first person you hear when you call. She has worked in Orthopedics for the past 18 years and has a true passion for patient care and putting a smile on patient’s faces.  She has a very bubbly personality and enjoys getting to know each patient individually.  In her free time she enjoys spending time with her husband, Dale and daughter, Carter. She also enjoys wine tasting, traveling, family gatherings and shopping.

Sergio web site


Jack of all Trades

Sergio was the first hire at Charlottesville Orthopaedic Center. Since he is the head of our media relations he will many times grace himself on our Facebook page, usually with his outfit of the day. Keep tuned to our social media sites because you never know what he will be doing next. He is a hard worker, never takes a day off and is here even when the office is closed. In his free time he likes to watch episodes of ‘Bones’. He doesn’t like to dance because he has no BODY to go with. His favorite food is spare ribs.

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