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Brazil RPCV Robert Backus named Vermont doctor of the year
1413,102~8860~1712700,00.html, Brazil RPCV Robert Backus named Vermont doctor of the year
Backus named Vermont doctor of the year
TOWNSHEND, VERMONT -- A rural family practitioner who makes house calls, sees patients at the state's smallest hospital, and spends a month every year volunteering at a clinic in the Amazon is this year's recipient of the Vermont Medical Society's Physician of the Year Award.
Dr. Robert W. Backus of Townshend was presented the award at the 190th annual meeting of the Vermont Medical Society, held Oct. 17-18 at the Woodstock Inn.
Backus, who modestly describes himself as a "good country physician," has practiced medicine in Townshend since 1978 -- for 17 years in private practice and more recently on staff at the Carlos G. Otis Health Care Center. Since 1998 he has been the center's medical director. Backus is also the director of emergency care at Grace Cottage Hospital.
Like most of today's physicians, Backus sees many of his patients at the health center and in the hospital. But he also makes time to visit elderly and incapacitated patients in their homes, where he finds he can learn much more about them and their health problems.
"You walk in their shoes. It gives you a much greater appreciation for how courageous a lot of these people are, especially in a time like this when health care is not available to many people who really deserve it," he said.
Backus worked for the Peace Corps as a volunteer and program director in Brazil during the 1960s, and has continued to assist the people of that country by returning each year to volunteer as a physician at a clinic in the Amazon. He is also vice president of the board of the Amazon Africa AID Organization, which supports health care and education in the Brazilian Amazon and in Portuguese-speaking Africa.
Backus received his medical degree from the University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington in 1976, and did his residency in family practice there from 1978-80. He also did an internship and residency at hospitals in South Australia in 1976 and 1977. He has been a fellow in the American Academy of Family Practice since 1981, and is the founder and editor of the Vermont chapter's family practice newsletter.
The Physician of the Year Award is given to a Vermont physician who has demonstrated outstanding performance in the quality of care given to his or her patients, demonstrated skillful and compassionate patient care, and has demonstrated dedication to the welfare of his or her patients in accordance with accepted principles of good medical practice.