No Small Feat: Physician Friends Reunite as ThedaCare Foot and Ankle Surgeons

Old friends have a way of looking out for each other. Years after they trained alongside one another as budding foot and ankle surgeons, a phone call from Dr. Kristen Kuratnick Sandoe, DO, ThedaCare Orthopedics, caught the immediate attention of Dr. Gregory Kirwan, DO. “She is a very dear friend. We trained together in Philly (Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine). ThedaCare was in the midst of developing its plans for a large foot and ankle program, and she thought of me,” Kirwan said. “It certainly got the gears turning. Kristen’s really the reason my family moved here.”

A native of Philadelphia, Kirwan entered the U.S. Naval Academy out of high school where he earned his undergraduate degree then served a total of five and a half years in the U.S. Navy, two of them deployed on the USS Theodore Roosevelt as an air transfer officer. During his service, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier was sent to the Mediterranean Sea during the Kosovo campaign and the Persian Gulf during Operation Southern Watch immediately after Desert Storm. “I’m the first one to say that the naval academy is not a common path to medical school. But I was young, I wanted to serve my country, and I wanted to see the world. So it was the right path for me.”

After his honorable discharge, Kirwan brushed up on some prerequisites for medical school at Delaware Valley College and the rest, as they say, is history. Kirwan’s residency at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine followed medical school, and his current practice consists of treating both acute and chronic conditions of the foot and ankle, including diabetes and arthritis. He joined ThedaCare Orthopedic Care in August and primarily sees patients at the Neenah clinic.

Kirwan and his wife have three children. A son, 19, attends the University of Milwaukee and is majoring in mechanical engineering. He dreams of flying jets in the U.S. Navy and is a member of Marquette University’s Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). Their daughter, 14, and son, 8, attend school in Appleton. Kirwan coaches flag football and youth basketball in his free time and makes it a priority to stay in good physical shape through plenty of golf, running, and crossfit training. “And I’m a pretty handy guy. I’m good with power tools, as most orthopedic surgeons are,” he said, laughing. “But I do like to make renovations on the house. It’s good to have projects.”