663 14 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

STARBUCK, Minn. - An iconic American image exists of a lone country doctor crossing the prairie with a horse and buggy.

Dr. Robert Bösl has ridden his 11-year-old Cadillac "buggy" nearly 220,000 thousand miles.

"North winds here are not good on this road," says the 66-year-old physician, as blinding snow whips across a Pope County highway.

The sun hasn't yet risen as Bösl wheels up to the Stevens Community Medical Center in Morris.

On this day, he'll visit patients ranging 87 years in age, from a baby girl he delivered by C-section two days earlier, to an elderly man with poor hearing.

"I'm just going to take a listen to your lungs," shouts Bösl, inches from the man's ear.

The snow has barely melted off his cowboy boots, when Bösl heads back out to his truck for the 20-mile drive back to Starbuck, the place where he started.

He enters his clinic, greets his nurses and finds his first Starbuck patient already waiting. Such is the life of the 2014 Country Doctor of the Year.

Bösl accepted the award and countless hugs in a packed Starbuck community center. The award is presented annually by Staff Care to recognize doctors in communities with fewer than 30,000 residents.

Speakers heralded Bösl for his dedication to Starbuck, which included taking out a second mortgage, at the age of 56, to build Starbuck a new clinic. The city's hospital closed the same year.

"I felt I had a commitment to rural health care," said Bösl. "These people deserved to have a clinic here."

Now at least two, and often three times, a day, Bösl drives back and forth between the Starbuck clinic and the hospital in Morris, a 40-mile round trip. He's also know to make house calls on occasion, another mark of a country doctor.

"What I probably like most about him is just his dedication," says Vicki Pieske, a lab technician at the clinic. "I think so many younger physicians realize that there's more to life than just their work, where Dr. Bösl puts his work first."

Maybe it was growing up in the country that planted the seed. Robert Bösl was the second-oldest of eight children, growing up on a dairy farm near Sauk Centre.

He served as a medic in Vietnam, attended medical school at the University of Minnesota, and then convinced a reluctant Twin Cities gal to join him in a town too small for a stoplight. Starbuck is home to 1,300 people.

"You're not really serious, are you?" he remembers his young wife saying at the time. "I wanted to be a family doc and a country doc and I also wanted to raise my kids in that kind of environment."

Longtime patients are glad Bösl won the debate.

"We're really fortunate," said Virgil Driggins during his appointment at the clinic. "He's down to earth, anyone can talk to him. He's really been a good doctor."

Bösl is old enough to retire and hopes to do exactly that someday. But first he wants to make sure the right doctor is in place.

Folks around Starbuck will tell you he already is.

663 14 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://kare11.tv/1jgxi9b