Award winning doctor came to Pocahontas to be near wilderness
Buckeye, W.Va. – Pocahontas County is the home of the Rural Health Provider of the Year, Dr. Robert Must, of Hillsboro. The doctor grew up on military bases around the US and overseas.
“I was born on an Air Force base in California and I grew up all over the United States – Midwest and South – and spent four years in England,” he said. “When my Dad retired, we moved to this place in the mountains in Georgia, on a lake, and there was a little high school there. It was a lot like Pocahontas County, except it had a lake. Towns County High School in Hiawassee, Georgia – had about 400 students.”
Must initially studied architecture.
“I went to Georgia Tech for three years, majoring in architecture,” he said. “And then, I got drafted. I stayed out for a quarter and I got drafted and then I was in the Army. Then, after I got out of the Army, I wasn’t interested in architecture anymore. I was interested in living in the mountains.”
The doctor tells why he decided to relocate to Pocahontas County.
“I found it by spending a lot of time in the atlas and geography room at Emory University library in Atlanta,” he said. “I was looking for a place to live that was near wilderness and had low population density and seemed to be safe from development.”
A conversation in a laundromat changed the course of young Must’s life.
“I was living here and I realized that, at that time, there was a lot of dissatisfaction with health care, and doctors not available that much. I was at the laundromat in Fairlea. There was a guy there. We struck up a conversation and he was a student at the “O School” – the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, there in Lewisburg. And he was a real down-to-Earth guy and really cared about people and he talked it up and I got interested. I had always been really good in science and always really liked people and there was a need so, I thought I’d give it a whirl.”
Medical school was a trying time.
“It wasn’t good for my health, though,” Must said. “I didn’t get enough exercise and it was probably one of the least healthy portions of my life. You had to stick with it every day. I averaged staying up all night, once a week, for two years. But I probably didn’t have to do that. If I had been more organized, I probably wouldn’t have had to do that.”
The young doctor had a simple philosophy.
“I just wanted to help people be healthy,” he said. “I figured that’s what a doctor is supposed to do.”
Establishing a private practice in Hillsboro, the country doctor soon gained the trust of his new community.
“Well, one of the greatest things was having several generations of the same family and just becoming a part of the family,” he said. “Being accepted and being admitted that honored position inside of people’s families.”
Beth Little is Dr. Must’s friend and patient.
“The really special thing about Bob is that he cares about helping people be healthy,” Little said. “He isn’t the kind of doctor who just spends a few minutes and writes a prescription. He really spends time with people, figuring out f they’ve got a problem, what’s causing it and what they could do to fix it, rather than just treat it.”
Robin Tiwoniw worked as Dr. Must’s office assistant.
“He’s absolutely special,” Tiwoniw said. “He’s the kind of guy who remembers your birthday. He just has so much patience. He’d never say ‘reschedule somebody’ or ‘can you come in tomorrow?’ he always made time for all of his patients. And I think that that is a rarity.”