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IL Physician Named 'Country Doctor of the Year'

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, January 2, 2013

Nelson says the decision to return home to practice medicine made him anxious. "At first I was scared to come back here because I didn't know what the perception of the people in the community would be to a hometown boy who they had watched going through high school," he says.

"Sometimes people don't consider the people who grow up in their hometown in a professional way and they might be uncomfortable going to a physician in their hometown because they've known you your whole life and watched you grow up and feel too close to you as a friend to come to you as a doctor," he says.

"But when I came here, it was mostly just the opposite. I attracted people in my office because I was from the community and they trusted me."

Being rooted in a small town also gives Nelson the opportunity to fulfill another childhood dream of becoming a volunteer sheriff's deputy. "Sometimes you get bored doing the same thing over and over again and it gives me a chance to get out and do something different so I can keep my concentration when I come back to work," he says.

"I enjoy being involved in emergency situations and helping folks. Sometimes it's a problem if you are involved in a call and one of the people doing something illegal is one of your patients. Then it is hard, but you have to switch hats and do the right thing and hope they'll understand."

Of course, being a hometown hero can be a double-edged sword.

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