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Finding Destiny as a Doctor: Burnett County

Jacquelyn Arbuckle was inspired to become a doctor when her brother was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.

August 01, 2016
Dr. Jacquelynn Arbuckle

From a very early age, Dr. Jacquelynn Arbuckle  ’91, MD’95 was introduced to the medical field. “My brother has cystic fibrosis. And from the time he was born — I was six years old then — my family was involved in constant medical conversations,” Arbuckle says. “It was those kinds of intense conversations with physicians and family that made me really want to be part of the medical field.”

A native of Spooner, Wisconsin, and an Ojibwe, Arbuckle grew up on the St. Croix reservation. “There aren’t a lot of resources available on the reservation,” Arbuckle says. “But what we have, we’re very thankful for, and we really help to take care of each other.”

I had such a wonderful experience in medical school that I wanted to be one of the educators here at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Arbuckle attended UW–Madison as a Chancellor’s Scholar and University of Wisconsin Medical School Scholar as an undergraduate and later went on to graduate from the UW–Madison medical school. After completing her surgical residency in Massachusetts, she returned to Madison as an associate professor in the Department of Surgery and a general surgeon practicing at the UW Hospitals and Clinics, Meriter Hospital, and the Transformation Surgery Center.

“I had such a wonderful experience in medical school that I wanted to be one of the educators here at the University of Wisconsin–Madison,” she says. “It’s a very proud tradition, particularly in the surgery department. And I wanted to pass the experiences I gained on to the next generation of students.”

She’s also fulfilling her goal of giving back not only to the St. Croix reservation, but also to reservations throughout the state. As the director of the Native American Center for Health Professions, she’s encouraging kids living on the reservations to consider enrolling in UW–Madison. “Overall, I’d like to get more Native American students in health professions who will then go back and care for people on the reservations,” Arbuckle says. “I’d also like to help improve care across the reservations. There is a shortage of medical professionals on reservations.”

And as for how her brother is doing, Arbuckle was eventually able to transition his care from the University of Minnesota to UW Health, where he had a bi-lateral lung transplant thirteen years ago. “It was very tenuous, but he had outstanding care here at UW–Madison,” she says. “And it’s given our family thirteen more years with him!”

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