Pediatrician, Julie MacNeil, M.D., joined the Children’s Clinic in Pine Bluff and the Jefferson Regional Medical Center Medical Staff this summer, bringing a vast worldview with her.
Dr. MacNeil – scuba diver, snow boarder, certified cake decorator and adventure seeker – has traveled around the world and has now brought her knowledge to Jefferson Regional after completing her residency at Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.
Dr. MacNeil has lived in Argentina, China, Spain and attended medical school in Poland, a choice that she said greatly impacted both her medical career and personal life. “It was a crazy experience, but it was fantastic,” she said. “I’ve seen so many diseases that we don’t have in the US – diseases that people here study – so clinically it was very helpful. I actually met my husband there, who is in his anesthesia residency right now. He was in my class.”
During her travels, Dr. MacNeil also learned to speak Spanish, which is one of the things she said she is most proud of. “I’m really proud that I’m fluent in Spanish, especially since I have no Hispanic roots at all,” she said. “It really surprises people, but I speak to patients in Spanish and I did throughout residency. I’m looking forward to getting to know Pine Bluff’s Hispanic community.
Dr. MacNeil fondly remembers her experience learning to speak Spanish. “I was studying abroad in Argentina in a small town, and no one there spoke English, so I was lost for like a month,” she said, laughing. “I knew ‘hi, how are you?’ but that is not enough to understand what’s going on. I didn’t know where we were eating. I never knew where we were going. Once we went camping, and I didn’t know we were going camping. I thought, ‘I have no idea when we’re coming back – how long are we going to be gone?’”
Growing up, Dr. MacNeil visited her grandparents – who lived in Greer’s Ferry, Arkansas – regularly. “That’s sort of how I ended up in Arkansas. My husband and I were looking for pediatric and anesthesia positions that we both liked, and we decided to come to here. He’s from Canada, so I convinced him to move back to the US with me,” she said, smiling. “His first time living in the US is living in Little Rock, Arkansas.”
Dr. MacNeil is excited about the difference she can make in childrens’ lives in Southeast Arkansas. “My favorite thing is well-child checks, because with children, you can prevent so many things,” she said. “Kids tend not to come to you with chronic diseases. There are a lot of things that can happen in childhood, like accidents, and being able to prevent those things instead of trying to work on the aftermath and the consequences is so rewarding. I really love talking about preventive care.”
Dr. MacNeil said that as a pediatrician, she sees huge opportunities to impact entire families. “It’s really fun working with kids in that you can do a lot of good,” she said. “People love their kids so much, they’ll do so much for their children. Things they wouldn’t do for themselves, they would do for their kids. I feel like you can do so much good, because people will make a lot of healthy changes if they think it can help their children.”
A pediatrician that Dr. MacNeil worked with during residency named Debbie Becton impacted her greatly. “She was just such an awesome pediatrician,” Dr. MacNeil said. “Sometimes it’s hard to have conversations with families, especially once you’ve gotten to know them or you have good rapport with them and you have to tell them that they need to stop doing something or explain something that’s maybe not positive. She would always approach those situations head on and always do what’s right for the patient – every single time – even if it was uncomfortable for her. She was such a great role model, and I just hope I can be like that. I hope I can be like her.”
Dr. MacNeil brings a wide variety of hobbies and skills to Arkansas with her. “I have a lot of outdoor hobbies that I enjoy,” she said. “Mostly my husband got me into all of those things. I love snowboarding. I learned that in Poland, because they have a lot of snow there. And I really like rock climbing, so I go up to Horseshoe Canyon Ranch. There are a lot of places in Arkansas, so we do day trips all the time, and it’s so beautiful. I love rock climbing, and I went on my first backpacking trip in the last year. We went to Eagle Rock Loop in the Ouachita area. It’s 26 miles, and you carry all your stuff to places you can only get to by walking – I love that idea.”
Dr. MacNeil is also a certified cake decorator. “It’s really fun and relaxing,” she said. “And I love sweets – I’m terrible with sweets. It’s just a fun hobby, and I finished all the courses, so I have my certification in it. I’ve done some wedding cakes before.”
Dr. MacNeil will be providing a variety of services for Southeast Arkansas children and families. At the clinic, she will see children for checkups, sick visits and minor procedures.
She will also work in the hospital nursery for newborn care. “It’s so fun to be a part of something that isn’t an illness,” she said. “People are excited to be there – I love well-baby nursery.” In addition, Dr. MacNeil will admit pediatric patients to the hospital and see them in the hospital when they’re sick.
To make an appointment, please contact Dr. MacNeil’s office at 870-534-6210.
Children’s Clinic, PA, 1420 West 43rd Ave., Pine Bluff, Arkansas 71603