Lauren Lee Interviews Dr. Jacqueline Stewart
How Dr. Jacqueline Stewart Found Purpose in Pediatrics
By: Lauren Lee
Dr. Jacqueline Stewart knew she wanted to be a pediatrician at an early age. But her passion for helping children would eventually lead her to another path as well – entrepreneurship. Dr. Stewart not only works in private practice as a pediatrician with her partner, Dr. Paul Amamoo, but she also is the founder of Hugs and Kisses daycare, a daycare center for children with special medical needs. In pediatrics, Dr. Stewart found her purpose and has found ways to help children even beyond the walls of her doctor’s office.
To become a pediatrician she had to complete high school, college, medical school and residency. In 1976, she attended the University of Alabama School of Medicine and did her residency between 1976 to 1979. Right after she finished residency she went into private practice of pediatrics and has now been in practice for more than forty-four years.
Dr. Stewart said that her practice carries “the responsibility of taking care of children from the time that they’re born until they become adults or at least think they’ve become adults.” She loves watching the babies and children that come through her practice grow into young adults. Dr. Stewart stated that it’s a blessing to see all the wonderful things that they accomplish and all of the potential things that they could accomplish.
She not only has a private practice but is the owner of her daycare, Hugs and Kisses. Hugs and Kisses is a daycare for sick children. She opened the daycare as a result of her practice and the fact that parents who had sick children couldn’t work because the children couldn’t go to daycare or any other care situation. Dr. Stewart began looking for a resource for these parents but couldn’t find what they needed. So she created it.
In December of 1990, Hugs and Kisses was licensed by the State of Alabama and is the only sick child daycare in the state. A second Hugs and Kisses was established with Blue Cross Blue Shield. As Hugs and Kisses continued to develop and expand, they started seeing kids with special needs and children that were medically fragile. The children needed specific care that traditional daycares could not handle. A few years later, Dr. Stewart started the Mission Hugs foundation. Mission Hugs was founded to help to raise funds to provide scholarships to the children, buy equipment and medicines for them, and just to make their lives better. The yearly Mission Hugs fundraiser, which has been held for the past sixteen years, helps the children and their families to have stability and what they need.
Being a woman in the field of pediatric medicine has grown to be common. More women are in pediatrics than men. Dr. Stewart said that since her time in residency the proportion between men and women has flipped. When asked about what advice she would give to a young girl who is interested in her field, she responded with, “do not go to the right or to the left but put blinders on and look straight ahead and keep everything in purpose. Keep in mind what your goals are and work toward your goals.” Dr. Stewart believes in the great potential of children and is excited for the future of medicine.