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Credentials

Board Certified, American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery

Education
  • B.A. with honors, Black Studies, Vassar College
  • M.D., Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Residency, Orthopaedic and General Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine
  • Fellowship, Orthopaedic Trauma and Spine Surgery, University of Maryland
Honors and Accolades
  • First African American female orthopaedic surgeon in the United States; first female orthopaedic resident to graduate from Yale University
  • Pioneers in Medicine Award, 2003
  • Women in Medicine Award, National Medical Association Council, 2003
  • Diversity Award, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2008
  • Spirituality in Medicine Award, Howard University, 2008
  • Featured in documentary Black Women in Medicine, 2016, American Public Television
Specialty

Nonsurgical treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, including back pain and osteoporosis

Claudia L. Thomas, M.D.

The Artistry of Orthopaedics

Dr. Claudia Thomas was born an artist. Becoming a physician was a matter of evolution. Growing up in Queens, New York, her artistic talents earned her a place at the prestigious High School of Music and Art upon which the movie and Broadway show Fame is based. Unlike most stereotypical teenage art students, she also had an insatiable appetite for mathematics—the more difficult the problem, the better. When she brought home a 99 percent test score, her father asked her, half-teasing and half-pushing, “What happened to the other point?” So Dr. Thomas learned to score 100s and developed a habit of continually reaching higher and probing deeper. Her fondness for art and math morphed into a fascination with geometry—a natural next step.

Falling in love with orthopaedics was also a process. As a second-year medical student at Johns Hopkins, during an orthopaedic rotation, Dr. Thomas experienced an “aha!” moment while watching surgeons correct a deformed femur. “Based upon a geometric formula, they cut a triangular wedge and straightened the bone and his hip,” she recalls. “They let me put a screw in the bone, so there was the carpentry my father had taught me when I was younger. I just fell in love.”

Even after practicing medicine for 40-plus years, Dr. Thomas’s eyes still light up when she talks about the problem solving involved with orthopaedics. “The artistry of taking a crooked bone and making it straight,” she says, “of taking a misshapen spine and correcting it—that is the hands-on part I love.”

Dr. Thomas also thrives on getting to know her patients, and akin to solving a math problem, exercising her ability to lucidly diagnose what others may have missed. She no longer performs surgery, concentrating instead on noninvasive treatments, and she has developed a special interest in osteoporosis. “My father died of a hip fracture in 1981,” she explains. “Osteoporosis kills through fracture, so you want to prevent it. It’s not sexy. It doesn’t make a lot of money. But treating it saves lives.”

Dr. Thomas has written an autobiography called God Spare Life that details the major “storms” of her life—from fighting for social justice as an undergraduate at Vassar College to fighting for her life as a kidney cancer survivor and the recipient of two kidney transplants. Despite her busy schedule, she devotes much of her spare time to the community. One of her pet projects involves mentoring and motivating local African American male students to excel academically. A talented speaker, she enjoys giving lectures both in the community and around the world at conferences and panels. Dr. Thomas lives with her husband in Lady Lake, Florida.

Credentials

Board Certified, American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery

Education
  • B.A. with honors, Black Studies, Vassar College
  • M.D., Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Residency, Orthopaedic and General Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine
  • Fellowship, Orthopaedic Trauma and Spine Surgery, University of Maryland
Honors and Accolades
  • First African American female orthopaedic surgeon in the United States; first female orthopaedic resident to graduate from Yale University
  • Pioneers in Medicine Award, 2003
  • Women in Medicine Award, National Medical Association Council, 2003
  • Diversity Award, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2008
  • Spirituality in Medicine Award, Howard University, 2008
  • Featured in documentary Black Women in Medicine, 2016, American Public Television
Specialty

Nonsurgical treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, including back pain and osteoporosis

Call (352) 973-4070 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Thomas

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UNOVA is pleased to provide the communities surrounding The Villages, Lady Lake, Leesburg, Mount Dora, Summerfield, Belleview, Ocala, and Fruitland Park, Florida, with a comprehensive offering of health care services and procedures including, orthopaedics, urgent care, physical therapy, and imaging.

539 Rolling Acres Road, Lady Lake, Florida 32159     appointment@unovahealth.com 
(352) 973-4070