Bösl named Country Doctor of the Year
STARBUCK -- Every weekday at 5 a.m., Dr. Robert Bösl of Starbuck, Minn., arises to make the 20 mile trip to Stevens Community Medical Center so he can visit his patients – then drives 20 miles back to Starbuck to see patients in the clinic he invested his life savings to build. For these and countless other demonstrations of commitment to his patients, Bösl, a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran, has been named the 2013 Country Doctor of the Year.
Presented by Staff Care, an AMN Healthcare company, the Country Doctor of the Year Award recognizes the spirit, skill, and dedication of America’s rural medical practitioners. The leading temporary physician staffing firm in the United States, Staff Care has presented the national award since 1992 to exemplary physicians practicing in communities of 30,000 or less.
“Bösl 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.”
Board certified in family medicine, Bösl arrived in Starbuck, a town of 1,300 he describes as the mirror image of “Lake Woebegone” of “A Prairie Home Companion Fame,” in 1982, and soon found himself the only physician in the community. On call seven days a week, 24 hours a day, he provided the full spectrum of care, from obstetrics to geriatrics, making house calls during difficult to drive in winters. In 2005, when the local hospital failed, Bösl took out a loan on his home and invested his life savings to build a modern clinic so that Starbuck would continue to have local care.
“Without a local care option, small towns have a tenuous future,” Ebner said. “Through his extraordinary commitment, Bösl has ensured not only that quality care is available in Starbuck, but that the community can remain economically viable for years to come.”
Now 66, the former corpsman who won over 20 medals and citations for his service in Vietnam, including a Purple Heart, continues to see patients, serve as team doctor for the local high school, and make occasional house calls. Bösl estimates he has put 200,000 miles on his car so he can round on patients at the closest hospital, a 40-mile round trip from Starbuck, and he is still the only physician in the community, which proudly claims to be the home of “the world’s largest lefse.” Originally from Sauk Centre, Bösl once had five generations of patients admitted to the hospital at the same time.
As the 2013 Country Doctor of the Year, Bösl will be able to enjoy two weeks of time off, as Staff Care will provide a temporary physician to fill in for him at no charge, a service valued at approximately $10,000. He also will receive the award’s signature plaque featuring a country doctor making his rounds on a horse and buggy, an engraved stethoscope, and a monogrammed lab coat. Additional information about the Country Doctor of the Year Award can be found at www.countrydoctoraward.com.