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Doctors' Day profile: Jaclyn Duvall inspired at an early age

(March 30 is National Doctors’ Day. Utica Park Clinic would like to thank all of our physicians for the dedication and passion they show for their patients. In honor of National Doctors’ Day, we would like to spotlight headache specialist Jaclyn Duvall, M.D.)

Jaclyn Duvall, M.D., a headache specialist with Utica Park Clinic, wanted to pursue a career in the medical field at a young age. The source of her inspiration came from somebody near and dear to her heart.

“I have known I wanted to be a doctor since I was 5 years old,” Duvall said. “It was actually my first career day in kindergarten. I told my parents, ‘I want to be a clown.’ They laughed and my dad said if you were a doctor, you could help your mom.”

Duvall’s mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis shortly after Jaclyn was born.

“I grew up knowing what MS was and how it affected her,” Duvall said. “I thought, 'Great. Now I can help my mom.’ So, for me, becoming a doctor meant I would help my mom and help others like her.”

Duvall has helped many others as a board-certified neurologist who specializes in headache medicine. The Tulsa native is the only fellowship-trained headache specialist in Oklahoma.

Duvall worked in general neurology in the Oklahoma City area prior to joining Utica Park Clinic in the fall of 2019. It was during that time her passion for patient care came into focus.

“I fell in love with treating headache,” she said. “I was treating several young women, many of them in my same life stage with kids and careers just starting. A lot of these women were suffering from severe and tractable headaches. We would make them better and they would come back and their lives were changed. That opportunity to change somebody’s life for the better, there’s nothing better out there.”

Duvall moved back to Tulsa in September 2019 and joined Utica Park Clinic a month later. She was months into the process of building up her practice when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020. Duvall said in the past year she has learned to be flexible and open to other avenues when it comes to patient care.

“It’s been to realize that at any moment, things can change and to not rely on expectations that medicine will always follow one type or one path,” she said.

A doctor and mother of two, Duvall serves as an example to women who aspire to one day be a physician in the medical field, just as she did at an early age. She recalled one interaction that served as motivation in achieving her goal. 

“I came across different points growing up, and I’ll tell you as a female wanting to go into the medical field, even in the 90s, there was still sexism,” Duvall said. “I remember we had something called mini-mester at Cascia (Hall). Whatever career we aspired to be, we could go and shadow and do a mini-externship.

“I was in my first surgery shadowing a cardiothoracic surgeon and I was at the head of the bed with an anesthesiologist that asked, ‘well, do you want to have a family?’ I said, ‘yeah, one day I’d like to have a family.’ And he said, ‘well, you should not be a doctor.’ And I realized in that moment that no, I absolutely will be a doctor and am going to have a family. It’s possible for women to do both and be successful at both.”

Inspired by others, Duvall gave some words of wisdom to those who aspire to follow in her footsteps.

“Don’t let anyone dissuade you from your dreams,” she said. “If this is what you’re passionate about, keep working, keep pushing forward. But don’t let naysayers get in your mind.”