QUICK LINKS
MAIN MENU
CONNECT WITH US

John S. Kirkpatrick M.D.: Football injury starts him down road to orthopaedic surgery

By Matt Galnor
July 2012

Like many doctors, the road to a career in medicine for John S. Kirkpatrick M.D., got its foundation in high school.

But for Kirkpatrick, now a professor and chair of orthopaedic surgery and rehabilitation at the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville, it wasn’t a specific moment in the classroom that inspired him.

It was on the football field.

Kirkpatrick broke his femur playing football in the ninth grade, damaging his growth plate and ending his playing days. Kirkpatrick underwent a series of experimental surgeries to lengthen the femur and was the first case in a study at UCLA, near where he grew up.

The surgeon became a mentor to Kirkpatrick and the experience led him to cross the country and pursue an engineering degree at Duke University. During the summers, Kirkpatrick would come back to UCLA to work in the doctor’s lab. He learned he enjoyed the patient side more than the engineering, and found that the two blend well together in orthopaedic surgery. Kirkpatrick said he was encouraged by another mentor to look into working with the spine and thought it was a specialty that would be emerging and changing as his career progressed.

After graduating with an engineering degree from Duke, Kirkpatrick went to Bowman Gray School of Medicine in Winston Salem, N.C., graduating in 1985. He returned to Duke for his residency and then spent a yearlong orthopaedic surgery fellowship at Case Western University in Cleveland, focusing on the spine.

From there, he went to Birmingham, where Kirkpatrick held a variety of roles at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. He was an assistant professor of engineering and a professor of orthopaedic surgery, director of resident education for orthopaedics, along with medical appointments that included chief of orthopaedic surgery at the Veterans’ Administration Hospital in Birmingham.

Kirkpatrick left in 2006 to come to Jacksonville for “the opportunity to help develop others as a team.”

Kirkpatrick is committing his own personal resources by donating back to a research and education fund in the department.

Because of various financial formulas, the department receives about one-third less revenue per case than competing academic orthopaedic programs. Money to support the educational side traditionally came from patient care revenues. That model, Kirkpatrick said, is no longer sustainable with reduced reimbursements.

The department, which recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of its orthopaedic surgery residency, is growing by expanding its practice at the UF Bone and Joint Center at Emerson Medical Plaza, but still relies on philanthropy to tie everything together.

The money Kirkpatrick donated has gone to a variety of projects, assisting with research and buying textbooks. Various alumni have helped the department through the years, paying for the magnifying operating glasses for residents. A pair with a prescription can run up to $2,000, Kirkpatrick said.

“I want to see the department succeed and it has to have support to succeed,” Kirkpatrick said. “After 50 years, we don’t want to see the program struggle.”

Read More Stories

News & Announcements

COMJ faculty mourn loss of esteemed colleague  - Thumb

COMJ faculty mourn loss of esteemed colleague

7/21/2017

Robert Wears, MD, PhD, was regarded as an expert in patient safety As faculty members toggle grief and shock over the death of Robert... [full story]

Education, rapid care keys to preventing sepsis deaths, UF Health study shows - Thumb

Education, rapid care keys to preventing sepsis deaths, UF Health study shows

7/19/2017

A comprehensive study of sepsis treatment conducted by UF Health researchers has concluded that a new educational program to identify a... [full story]

UF Health physician discusses genetics of pain - Thumb

UF Health physician discusses genetics of pain

7/19/2017

Pain management could become part of personalized medicine. Advancements in science and technology are the reasons medical care has ev... [full story]

Upcoming Events

Jul 25

IRB Meeting

From 12:00 PM until 2:00 PM

Aug 2

PAIP - Social Skills Brick By Brick

From 4:30 PM until 6:30 PM

Aug 7
Aug 8

IRB Meeting

From 12:00 PM until 2:00 PM

Aug 10

Emergency Medicine Grand Rounds: M&M

From 8:00 AM until 12:00 PM

Aug 22

IRB Meeting

From 12:00 PM until 2:00 PM