She graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1966 where she majored in chemistry. She taught physics and chemistry in secondary schools for seven years before entering medical school. She graduated from the Virginia Commonwealth University MCV School of Medicine in 1976 and completed her OBYN residency there in 1980. She is board certifies by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. She had an active OBGYN practice in Williamsburg from July 1980 until December 2012.
She received a Master of Public Health degree in 2007 from Eastern Virginia Medical School/Old Dominion University. In 2009 she became a Diplomate in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene after study at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Dr. Buchanan has been a clinical professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences since 2007 where she teaches class in global public health. As one of the founding board members of the Maasai American Organization, a small international NGO, she travels frequently to Kenya. Her work there involves promoting women and children’s health at the household and community level.