Dr. Linda Aranaydo, a Muscogee Creek Indian, Kialegee Tribal Town, Bear Clan, has devoted her life to serving her family and her community and is a role model for other women who wish to enter medicine. As a preschool teacher at Hintil Native American Children's Center in Oakland, California, she was raising two sons as a single parent and had no financial resources when she was admitted to medical school at the age of 37.
Mother, grandmother, preschool-elementary teacher, family physician, public health administratorat one time or another, Linda Aranaydo has been all of these. In 1970 she won an award of distinction in general scholarship while working toward a B.A. in social sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, and served on the Governor's Task Force on Early Childhood Education in 1977 and the California State American Indian Education Council from 1978 to 1980. From 1972 to 1983, she also taught at the preschool and elementary levels at the Hintil Native American Children's Center in Oakland, California. She received the Robert Crede Award for Excellence in Primary Care Medicine while she studying for her M.D. at the University of California, San Francisco.
After eleven years as a classroom teacher, the career change to family physician had its obstacles, and involved a leap of faith on her part. "College counselors were initially discouraging because of my age and family obligations," she observes. "I was 37, a single parent of two sons, an elementary school teacher with no savings when I was admitted to medical school. I had to maintain belief in my own abilities, in the strength and resilience of family and the shared vision of wellness in Indian communities. I actively sought out and received support and encouragement from individuals and organizations that shared my beliefs and goals. Family, tribal, intertribal, and spiritual supports were all essential in making the dream real." But she was determined to succeed, having seen family members and others in the American Indian community die of chronic but preventable diseases.
After earning her M.D. in 1992, she trained at the University of California, San Francisco and the Santa Rosa, California, family practice residency program. In 1995 she received the David Vanderryn Award for Outstanding Community Service as a Family Physician during her service as Chief Resident at Sutter Tracy Community Hospital, Santa Rosa. From 1997 to 2000, she worked at Indian Health Clinics in Lake, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties in California.
Dr. Aranaydo is currently director of medical services for the California Rural Indian Health Board. She also volunteers at Sacramento Urban Indian Health Project one day a week, providing care to American Indian diabetic patients and living her dream of helping her people.