Rural Prescription - Y Magazine
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Rural Prescription

Nauvoo's only doctor loves the country life.

Rachel Rahman
Recently honored as the runner-up for the Country Doctor of the Year, Rachel Rahman is the only practicing physician in Nauvoo, Ill. When the owners of the Nauvoo clinic decided to close it, Rahman bought the clinic to keep it open. Photo courtesy Carthage Memorial Hospital.

Rachel Carroll Rahman, ’93, did not know she wanted to be a doctor when she entered BYU. She just knew she wanted to study everything and crammed as many classes as she could into a rigorous academic schedule. When she graduated, Rahman received bachelor’s degrees in physics and biochemistry and minors in music and math.

After a mission to the Netherlands, Rahman realized she was not ready to end her formal education and entered medical school at the University of Utah. Again, she did not want to limit her studies, so she applied for and was accepted into a rural family practice residency that would give her a broad base of training.

In choosing to become a doctor, Rahman followed the path of many of her pioneer ancestors, several of whom were midwives and one who earned a certificate in obstetrics from the University of Utah. She even works in a location that would have been familiar to them; she is the only practicing physician in Nauvoo, Ill., and has a second clinic in nearby Carthage.

Rahman was recently recognized for her career choice when she was named runner-up for the Country Doctor of the Year, a program sponsored by Staff Care, a Texas-based temporary-physician-staffing firm. The company annually recognizes physicians who meet the challenges of poverty, uninsured patients, and malpractice costs common in a rural practice and who, at the same time, demonstrate extraordinary dedication to patients, community, and profession. Receiving the award Dec. 4, Rahman was selected from a field of 166 nominees and was the only female finalist.

In Nauvoo, Rahman is right where she wants to be, but getting there took a bit of serendipity. In 1999 she and her husband, Franklin, ’98, took a detour to Nauvoo on their way to Chicago from Michigan. They opted to stay overnight when they learned President Gordon B. Hinckley was going to be there the next morning for the groundbreaking of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple.

“That night I flipped through the phone book in our hotel book and realized there were no doctors listed,” she explains. The new doctor thought the small Midwestern town might be an ideal place to practice medicine.

“One of my requirements was living in a small town near a temple, and so far, there aren’t too many places like that.” Nauvoo had actually begun the process of recruiting a doctor, and because she had one and a half years left in her residency, the city hired another doctor.

Rahman says she wondered then why Nauvoo had felt so right. As the end of her residency neared, she prepared to live in Colorado, where her husband had found a job. His company, however, eliminated his department shortly after they moved there, and the couple was faced with job challenges.

“I thought of Nauvoo again,” she says, “and called the clinic asking if the doctor was busy enough to need an assistant. The nurse who answered the call laughed and told me the doctor had just left, and they were just starting to seek another doctor.”

Rahman got the job. An Iowa hospital group, however, owned the clinic, and it concluded that the cost of running the clinic was too high. Rather than see it closed, Rahman bought the clinic.

Dedicated to her patients, she kept working when she was nine months pregnant, and she treated people the day before she gave birth to the fourth of her four daughters.

“Being in Nauvoo has worked out perfectly,” she says. “My husband manages both the clinic and a computer business. I have plenty of work, but I’m in a small enough town where I can also enjoy my family, church, and friends. If I were the only doctor in a slightly larger town, I wouldn’t have the life I love.”