Meet Dr. Micaela Thordarson

CHOC Children’s wants its referring physicians to get to know its specialists. Today, meet Dr. Micaela Thordarson, lead psychologist, ASPIRE® (After School Program Interventions and Resiliency Education) Intensive Outpatient Program at CHOC Children’s. 

Q: What is your education and training?

A: I earned my bachelor’s degree in psychobiology from UCLA with a minor in Spanish. I earned my PhD and master’s degree in clinical psychology from Palo Alto University with a specialization in children, adolescents and families. I completed my pre-doctoral internship with Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and my post-doctoral fellowship with Geisinger Health Systems in Pennsylvania.

Q: What are your special clinical interests?

A: I am particularly passionate about working with high-risk pediatric patients. I have done a great deal of work with suicidal and self-harming youth and their families. As a bilingual clinician in Spanish and English, I am also very interested in the interactions between mental health and cultural identities, for example, race/ethnicity, gender, religion and age.

Q: How long have you been on staff at CHOC?

A: I joined CHOC in October 2017.

Q: What are your most common diagnoses?

A: Depression, anxiety, and major life stressors are the most common difficulties our patients face.

Q: What would you most like community/referring providers to know about the ASPIRE® Intensive Outpatient Program at CHOC Children’s?

A: Our eight-week intensive outpatient mental health treatment program – the only pediatric-dedicated one of its kind in Orange County — is designed to serve a broad range of emotional and behavioral difficulties for high-school aged teens 13-18. It includes individual and family sessions, and crisis support as needed. If the teens and families you serve could possibly benefit from an intensive program, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Additionally, we aim to collaborate closely with all the important stakeholders in our patients’ lives. This includes primary care physicians, psychiatrists, therapists, educators and coaches.

Q: What would you most like patients and families to know about ASPIRE®?

A: While our program is hard work, it’s pretty fun to be a part of! The daily after-school programming for teens and their families is all interactive, including art and other expressive therapies, and designed to teach and practice new skills in fun ways.

Q: What excites you most about the program?

A: I am so excited to be able to offer a very important service to teens and families who are in crisis and need extra support. The program we offer is guided by research and has been carefully constructed to generate the best outcomes possible.

Q: What inspires you most about the care being delivered at CHOC?

A: I have worked with a number of different organizations and teams since I began my career in the mental health field. The team at CHOC is unparalleled in its enthusiastic dedication to innovation and excellence in the care of children.

Q: Why did you decide to become a psychologist?

A: I fell in love with the field of psychology immediately after taking my first job at a crisis shelter for teens. Getting to witness, and even participate in, the incredible changes these youths made in their lives in a few short weeks was inspirational. I knew that was work I wanted to be a part of for the rest of my career.

Q: If you weren’t a psychologist, what would you be and why?

A: Either a zookeeper, so I could spend time with cool animals every day, or a Disney princess at one of the theme parks so I could wear awesome costumes and play with kids all day.

Q: What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?

A: I love spending time with my family, hiking with my dog, and eating delicious food. I have a huge family and we have a lot of fun together!

To contact Dr. Thordarson, or to refer a patient, please call 714-509-8481.

Meet Dr. Nita Doshi

CHOC Children’s wants its referring physicians to get to know its specialists— today, meet Dr. Nita Doshi, a pediatric cardiologist with expertise in fetal cardiology.

Dr. Nita Doshi
Dr. Nita Doshi, a board certified pediatric cardiologist at CHOC with expertise in fetal cardiology.

Q: What is your education and training?

A: I attended medical school at University of California, Irvine. I completed my pediatric residency internship, categorical pediatric residency, and pediatric cardiology fellowship at University of California at Los Angeles Mattel Children’s Hospital School of Medicine.

Q: What are your special clinical interests?

A: Fetal cardiology, non-invasive cardiology including infant and pediatric transthoracic echocardiography, transesophageal echocardiography, pediatric pulmonary hypertension, and pediatric heart failure.

Q: How long have you been on staff at CHOC?

A: Eight years.

Q: What are some new programs or developments within your specialty?

A: My team provides state-of-the-art ultrasound technology and comprehensive fetal cardiac imaging protocol for evaluation and diagnosis of fetal cardiac disease. We offer the only comprehensive fetal cardiology services in Orange County, including performing fetal echocardiograms on pregnant women. When necessary, we partner with families on prenatal palliative care planning for specialized cases. We also support continuity of care of prenatal patients with their primary obstetrical and perinatology teams when appropriate.

Q: What are your most common diagnoses?

A: Atrial septal defect, ventricular septal defect, atrioventricular canal defect, bicuspid aortic valve and aortic valve stenosis, coarctation of the aorta, pulmonary valve stenosis, tetralogy of Fallot, transposition of the great arteries, double outlet right ventricle, truncus arteriosus, pulmonary hypertension, and cardiomyopathy.

Q: What would you most like community/referring providers to know about you or your division at CHOC?

A: I treat every patient and family as though they are my very own.  This connection is what has allowed to us create such an amazing network of heart families.  I am proud to serve as a member of a supremely talented and highly subspecialized team of cardiologists.

Q: What inspires you most about the care being delivered here at CHOC?

A: CHOC offers the ability for physicians such as me to serve a widely diverse patient population inside and outside of the county.  There is a unique and exceptional opportunity for one-on-one personalized care here at CHOC that doesn’t exist in other centers.  In this role, I am honored to learn from my patients and families every day, including aspects of their backgrounds, cultures, spectrum of disease, and their perspectives.  These are lessons that make me a stronger person and professional to support families in the future.

Q: Why did you decide to become a doctor?

A: My parents are exceptional role models.  They remind me to this day that when I was eight years old, I informed them I wanted to take care of babies and their hearts.  They are still not quite sure from where the specific inspiration stemmed (perhaps because they are also in the health profession), but they said that I was determined to follow through on this goal, and I did.

Q: What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?

A: My two-year-old daughter and my husband are my life.  We play, cook, travel, and explore every aspect of the outside world together.  We pride ourselves on learning every trade possible that enhances our lives.  We have remodeled our entire home with our own bare hands, cook our meals from scratch, and thoroughly enjoy every aspect of creative design (event planning and decorating and all things arts and crafts).

Q: What have you learned from your patients, or what is the funniest thing a patient has ever told you?

A: One of the funniest moments was when my 4-year-old patient being wheeled into the operating room to undergo a heart transplant asked me if they could put “mac n’ cheese” in her IV.

CHOC Doctor’s Day Celebration, March 30

In recognition of Doctor’s Day, we would like to take the opportunity to recognize CHOC Children’s physicians for their dedication to the patients and families we serve. Each day they offer hope and healing through their compassionate and world-class care.

CHOC physicians are invited to attend a special Parisian-inspired luncheon, held on Friday, March 30, at 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m., at CHOC Children’s Hospital, in the Wade Education Center (located on the second floor of the CHOC West/Clinic Building). A recognition ceremony will begin promptly at noon.

Additionally, a photographer will be available on site to take professional head shots.

Please RSVP by Friday, March 22 to CHOC Business Development, at, or 714-509-4291.

CHOC Hosting Thyroid, Puberty and Transgender Care Conference, April 14

Common thyroid conditions, pubertal disorders and screening guidelines for diabetes are among the topics featured at an endocrinology conference hosted by CHOC Children’s on April 14. We spoke with Dr. Amrit Bhangoo, pediatric endocrinologist at CHOC, about the anticipated event.

Dr. Amrit Bhangoo, pediatric endocrinologist at CHOC Children’s

Q: What can attendees expect at “Navigating the Endocrine Essentials: What the General Practitioner Needs to Know About Prediabetes, Thyroid, Puberty, and Transgender Care”?

A: We’re so excited about the upcoming conference. The last one, held about two years ago, drew a large attendance including community primary care providers, medical students, registered nurses and patient advocacy groups. This year, attendees should look forward to enhancing their knowledge in endocrine scenarios they commonly encounter in everyday practice. The speakers will cover the latest in the obesity epidemic, interventions that work with children, as well as diabetes screening guidelines. We will also discuss common thyroid conditions such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and the follow up needed in such cases.

Further, we will discuss what’s changing with the prevalence and diagnosis of thyroid nodules and cancer in children. Additionally, we will talk about pubertal disorders and how to tease apart the different variants of early puberty such as premature adrenarche from precocious puberty.

Q: What can attendees expect to learn tied to obesity/prediabetes?

A: The good news is that the obesity prevalence rates in children and adolescents are not rising, and are holding fairly stable at about 17 percent. The prevalence of obesity for minority children is higher and more than 20 percent. We continue to see children develop complications from obesity, which can be detected early and most of which could have been prevented.

At the conference, we will discuss some of the screening tools and how to use them in the primary care setting. In addition, participants can expect to learn the various screening criteria for Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Q: What other topic are you looking forward to at this year’s conference?

A: We are going to dedicate the afternoon to transgender care and will have expert speakers from CHOC and UC Irvine discuss the medical management of this patient population. This will be followed by in depth conversation about the psychosocial aspects of being a transgender and gender non-conforming youth in today’s society and discuss what tools are available in the community to support them.

 “Navigating the Endocrine Essentials: What the General Practitioner Needs to Know About Prediabetes, Thyroid, Puberty, and Transgender Care,” will be held Saturday, April 14, 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at CHOC Children’s Hospital, Harold Wade Education Center. Register and learn more here.

Charity Golf Classic Benefitting CHOC Children’s, May 14

Join us for “CHOC Children’s Charity Classic,” an annual golf tournament benefiting CHOC, on May 14 at the Pelican Hill Golf Club in Newport Beach.

The anticipated event attracts leading business leaders and golf enthusiasts in support of our community’s children and their health and well being.

Participants can enjoy 18 championship holes on Pelican Hill’s north and south courses, continental breakfast, box lunch, raffle, and a barbecue reception.

Visit to register, for sponsorship opportunities and more.