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IL Physician Named 'Country Doctor of the Year'

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, January 2, 2013

"Everybody knows who you are. Whenever I go I will run into somebody I know. And when I come back to the office a patient will say 'I heard where you were the other day,'" Nelson says.

"I had a secret girlfriend in Danville (46 miles away) that I didn't tell anybody about but as soon as I got there I ran into somebody from Gibson City. It's pretty hard. You get stopped in the grocery store. I get mobbed by my patients who want to know about tests and reports and just to talk to me. A lot of patients get a good feeling talking to their doctor. It's almost like being a celebrity."

With so many commitments, Nelson hasn't taken a vacation in 12 years. "People get so upset when I leave town because they don't feel they get as good a service from other doctors," he says.

"I just have a close attachment to most of my patients. I give them my phone number and they can call me 24/7 whenever they have a problem or a question. I just feel like I have an obligation to my patients. They are almost like my family since I am not married and I don't have any children."

Winning the Country Doctor of the Year award means that Staff Care will pay a temporary physician to cover Nelson's practice for a couple of weeks. Nelson says he's going to take advantage of the offer.  

"I don't know where I'll go, but people have recommended Hawaii. I wouldn't mind going to Europe. I've always wanted to do that."

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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