Michael J. Strunc, MD
Child Neurology and Sleep Medicine, Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters; Commander, U.S. Navy Medical Corps (Ret.)
When Dr. Michael Strunc joined the Navy to help pay for medical school, he knew serving his country would be an honor.
He just didn’t realize how big an honor.
“I didn’t anticipate how meaningful it would feel to serve families with members deployed all over the world, defending our democracy,” Dr. Strunc says. “They were putting their lives on the line, so the least I could do was take very good care of their children.”
Dr. Strunc ultimately spent nearly 21 years as an active-duty Navy physician. Along the way, he developed innovative pediatrics and sleep medicine programs and collected numerous meritorious service and teaching awards. He retired in 2012 after 10 years at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (NMCP).
Today, Dr. Strunc is a Staff Child Neurologist and Sleep Medicine specialist at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters. He built the hospital’s Center for Pediatric Sleep Medicine and is its former director. He also served as a Professional Staff Officer for six years and is Past President of CHKD’s Professional Staff. In addition, Dr. Strunc is the Site Coordinator for Eastern Virginia Medical School’s Sleep Fellowship.
“I hope to be the same type of servant-leader here as I was in the military,” he relates. “Fortunately, the Navy prepared me very well to be both a specialist at a large pediatric hospital and a medical school educator.”
An Illinois native, Dr. Strunc gravitated toward science classes early on and enjoyed hearing his father, a dentist in a small town, talk about helping his patients. His dad also was an Army veteran who served at the end of World War II.
Dr. Strunc majored in Biology at Saint Louis University and discovered a knack for working with children during a Pediatrics rotation at Saint Louis School of Medicine. He completed an internship and residency in the specialty at Naval Medical Center San Diego.
“I can act 4 or 14 in a heartbeat, so it’s not hard for me to connect with kids,” he notes. “They’re always interesting, and I enjoy building trust and rapport with their parents, too.”
Stationed at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington State for three years as a Staff Pediatrician, Dr. Strunc developed a Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) training program that attracted providers from much larger hospitals. He also helped organize a national, Navy-sponsored multi-disciplinary Conference on Family Violence.
After another year as a Staff Pediatrician at Evans Army Community Hospital in Colorado, Dr. Strunc pursued postdoctoral training in Child Neurology at the University of Colorado Denver and did a Sleep Fellowship at Duke University.
“The military provided me with excellent educational opportunities, as well as the chance to work with a diverse patient base,” he says. “There’s a real sense of camaraderie because you’re all part of a global team fighting for our nation’s values.”
At NMCP, Dr. Strunc served as a Child Neurologist, Division Head for Child Neurology and Sleep Medicine, and Director of the Boice Sleep Disorders Laboratory, which he expanded to reach more active-duty military and dependents.
Additionally, Dr. Strunc established a multi-disciplinary clinic for treating Cerebral Palsy/Spasticity and a Transcranial Doppler program to screen children with Sickle Cell Disease for stroke risk, working in conjunction with Hematology.
A married father of three, Dr. Strunc enjoys exercising, woodworking, building furniture and spending time with family and friends. And he is grateful for the long military career that he never expected to have.
“I worked hard over those 20-plus years, but there wasn’t one day I didn’t love my job,” he says. “What a privilege it was.”<