Selecting the “Country Doctor of the Year”

Selecting the Country Doctor of the Year

Staff Care is proud to be the sponsor of a unique tribute to America’s rural physicians: The Country Doctor of the Year Award.

The award was first presented by Staff Care in 1992 as a way to honor the spirit, skill and dedication of America’s rural medical practitioners. The award also is intended to highlight the remarkable contributions and commitment of country doctors nationwide, in the hope that their stories will inspire younger physicians to embrace the challenges and rewards of practicing rural medicine.

Nominate a Country Doctor

And what an amazing group of physicians we have been fortunate to select! They include Dr. John Harlan Haynes of Vivian, Louisiana, our first Country Doctor of the Year, a man his patients refer to as a “cross between Marcus Welby and Daniel Boone.” Dr. Haynes, a renowned diagnostician, now serves on the Country Doctor of the Year Award Selection Committee, helping us choose new award recipients each year.

Dr. Claire Louise Caudill, our 1993 Country Doctor of the Year (now deceased), was known as “The Mother of Rowan County, Kentucky,” for delivering more than 8,000 babies in her 50-year career. St. Claire Hospital in Morehead, Kentucky is named in her honor. Our 1996 Country Doctor of the Year, Dr. Elton Lehman, of Mount Eaton, Ohio, served a largely Amish patient base and helped fund and spearhead the construction of a birthing center constructed specifically for the unique needs of Amish women. Dr. Lehman also serves on our Selection Committee.

Dr. David Nichols, the 2006 Country Doctor of the Year, made a similarly strong impact on care in his area. For more than 30 years he flew his helicopter once a week to care for the isolated population of 600 on tiny Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay. Through his efforts, more than $2 million was raised to build a modern clinic on the island. Dr. Nichols subsequently passed away after a struggle with cancer and now is buried on the island where he was so beloved.

Behind the Country Doctor of the Year Selection Process

Over the years, we have received nominations submitted on behalf of thousands of other outstanding physicians across the country. Choosing between them is extremely difficult. We review all nominations closely, then select three finalists per year. In a telephone conference, our Selection Committee, including Drs. Haynes and Lehman, review the nominee’s background, track record and commitment to their community. We then select a provisional finalist, whom we meet with personally, examining their practice and community to ensure the doctor is truly exemplary. Pending this meeting, we announce our choice, usually in December.

Staff Care is in the selection phase of the process now and once again has a difficult decision to make, as our 2014 nominees are extraordinary. Keep reviewing this site for updates — we will be making an announcement soon.

Once the announcement is made, an award presentation is scheduled in the recipient’s community, and often hundreds of people attend. In addition to the award, the Country Doctor of the Year receives a lab coat and stethoscope monogrammed with the award’s symbol — a physician making his rounds in a horse and buggy. Winners of the Country Doctor of the Year award also receive two weeks of complimentary locum tenens coverage courtesy of Staff Care, so they can take a well-earned vacation — a prize valued at about $10,000.

In concert with the purpose of the award — to highlight the contributions of rural doctors — the Country Doctor of the Year typically receives national and local media attention. Past award recipients have been featured in numerous top media outlets, including USA Today, Parade, People, The Today Show and many others.

I welcome those who would like more information about the award, or those who would like to nominate a physician for the award, to visit I think you will be as impressed with and as appreciative as we are of these amazing physicians.

Nominate a Country Doctor

Sean Ebner serves as president of Staff Care, the leading locum tenens physician and advanced practitioner staffing firm in the United States and a company of AMN Healthcare. He can be reached at

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