Doctor of the Year

Staff Care’s Country Doctor of the Year Award

Country doctors are not a thing of the past. Today, country doctors still make house calls, know their patients personally and dedicate themselves to the care of their community. To honor these exceptional physicians, Staff Care sponsors the Country Doctor of the Year Award, recognizing their continuing contribution to rural healthcare.

The award is presented each December to a physician who best exemplifies the spirit, skill and dedication of America’s rural medical practitioners. Anyone with knowledge of an extraordinary physician may submit a nomination by filling out the nomination form.

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Meet Dr. Robert Bösl, Staff Care’s 2013 Country Doctor of the Year

At 66, many people are contemplating their retirement. Not Dr. Robert Bösl, who still drives the nearly 40-mile roundtrip to the hospital in the neighboring town of Morris multiple times daily to check on patients and perform surgeries he can’t do in his hometown of Starbuck.

As a longtime resident of the town, he joined a family practice there in 1982, but when his partners retired, he became the town’s only doctor, a lifeline to its 1300 residents. He has worked long hours ever since, doing everything from delivering babies, performing surgery, and even driving through a blizzard to deliver antibiotics.

But the real challenge came in 2005, when the only hospital in Starbuck closed. Dr. Bösl and his wife, Vickie, decided to help, taking out a home loan and investing their retirement savings in a new clinic.

This is type of doctor who epitomizes Staff Care’s Country Doctor of the Year Award. “Dr. Bosl is a true medical hero,” said Sean Ebner, President of Staff Care. “The courage and compassion he displayed as a medical corpsman in Vietnam has carried through his 33-years of practice in Starbuck.”

“Without a local care option, small towns have a tenuous future,” Ebner said. “Through his extraordinary commitment, Dr. Bosl has ensured not only that quality care is available in Starbuck, but that the community can remain economically viable for years to come.”

"I'm still baffled and tearful about it," Dr. Bösl said. "I'm sure there are many others who are deserving as well. It's kind of humbling to even be considered for it. My wife says you have to be a little bit crazy to practice in a small town," Bösl continued. "If being a little bit crazy is one of the criteria, then I'm probably overqualified."

Being the only doctor in town can be isolating, but technology helps connect Bösl with specialists. An X-ray can now be sent to a radiologist with the click of a button."You need to not only care for patients, but care for the community," he said. "That's what I've tried to do over the years."

John Rau, president and CEO of the Stevens Community Medical Center, the Morris hospital that purchased the Starbuck clinic about five years ago, has known Bösl for 40 years. Rau calls him "without question one of the finest physicians and individuals I've ever had the opportunity to work with."

Having a physician in Starbuck is important to the viability of the town, Rau said. "A lot of these small communities, when they lose their hospital and lose their clinics, they struggle in many other ways."

Bösl isn't slowing down yet, but the hospital is looking for a clinic partner who could someday take his place when he's ready to retire.

"He will be very difficult to replace," Rau said.

Staff Care congratulates Dr. Robert Bösl for his dedication and long, esteemed career. We are proud to showcase him as Staff Care’s 2013 Country Doctor of the Year recipient.

For more information please visit

Download a Country Doctor of the Year nomination form.

An Honor Roll of Legendary Doctors - Country Doctor of the year Award Recipients

2012 Neil Nelson, M.D. – Gibson City, Illinois

Trained in internal medicine/pediatrics, Dr. Nelson sees patients of all ages in his practice, regardless of ability to pay. As a testimony to his dedication, Dr. Nelson began his career in healthcare as a pharmacist so he would be familiar with the drugs that rural patients need. Raised on his family's 320 acre farm in Gibson City, and a farmer from an early age, Dr. Nelson knew he wanted to be a physician from the time he worked at the switchboard of Gibson Area Hospital where he was born, and where he now admits patients.

2011 Keith Morrow, M.D. – Hacklebird, Alabama

When an E-F5 tornado devastated the town of Hackleburg, Alabama, including both his medical offices, Dr. Keith Morrow continued to do what he has done for over 25 years -- treat patients and serve as a pillar of his community.

2010 Kenneth Jackson, M.D. - Kingman, Arizona

After completing his medical training in the 1970s, Dr. Jackson spent a year in a migrant health clinic, then worked for five years at the Indian Health Service hospital on the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Whiteriver, Arizona where he delivered both of his two children. He moved to Kingman in 1991 and has been providing free care to Native American communities for 16 years.

2009 Steven J. Smith, M.D. - Marathon, Florida

For most of the last 30 years, a 90-mile strip of the Florida Keys was covered by one surgeon and one surgeon alone, Dr. Steven J. Smith. For two-and-a-half decades, Dr. Smith covered two hospitals located over 40 miles apart, often making the drive between facilities three times daily, while being on call around the clock, 365 days a year.

2008 David Watson, M.D. - Yoakum, Texas

Dr. Watson arrived in Yoakum immediately out of medical training and began the multifarious tasks of a country doctor: family physician, surgeon, obstetrician and (unofficial) psychiatrist. The 78-year-old Dr. Watson continues to provide all these services, except obstetrics, seeing 20 to 30 patients a day in his office, rounding on patients in the hospital and the nursing home, and mixing in the occasional house call.

2007 Hiram T. Ward, M.D. - Murfreesboro, Arkansas

When the only hospital in the county was faced with imminent closure due to a lack of physicians accepting doctor jobs at the facility, 81-year-old Dr. Hiram Ward volunteered to come out of retirement to provide medical coverage for the hospital seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

2006 David Nichols, M.D. - White Stone, Virginia

Once a week for 27 years Dr. David Nichols has flown out to tiny Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay to care for its isolated population of 600 people, most of them the descendants of English settlers who came to the island in the 1600s.

2005 Katrina Poe, M.D. - Kilmichael, Mississippi

"Dr. Poe is more than a physician in Kilmichael, she's the community's guardian angel..."

2004 Kenneth Paul Mauterer, M.D. - Olla, Louisiana

"They said they were looking for someone who was one fish short of a stringer," says Dr. Mauterer. "I guess that's me."

2003 Charles Boyette, M.D. – Belhaven, North Carolina

Cared for patients through a hurricane, even after the hospital was evacuated.

2002 James Blume, D.O. – Forest Hill, West Virginia

Worked through colon cancer and sold property to pay rising malpractice premiums.

2001 Kamlesh Gosai, M.D. – Bentleyville, Pennsylvania

Stepped in after several other physicians refused doctor jobs from the dying town and rebuilt a community.

2000 Howard Clark, M.D. – Morton, Mississippi

Single-handedly kept the local hospital open. At age 73 still worked close to 100 hours a week.

1999 Paul F. Maddox, M.D. – Campton, Kentucky

Continued to practice after being diagnosed with cancer, scheduling patients around daily chemotherapy.

1998 Elton D. Lehman, D.O. – Mt. Eaton, Ohio

Brought modern medicine to the large Amish community of Stark County.

1997 Claire Louise Caudill, M.D. – Morehead, Kentucky

Known as the "Mother of Rowan County," she delivered more than 8,000 babies during her 50-year career.

1996 William Hill, M.D. – Carrollton, Alabama

Physicians from the Hill family have treated patients in Carrollton since before the Civil War.

1995 John Harlan Haynes, M.D. – Vivian. Louisiana

Described as "a cross between Marcus Welby and Daniel Boone," he saved the local hospital.

If you’d like to learn more about working as a locum tenens provider through Staff Care, contact us or browse locum tenens physician opportunities .

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Each year, Staff Care honors an exceptional physician who upholds the values of compassion and community service with its esteemed Country Doctor of the Year Award.