Dr. Tim Meyer arrived in Neillsville as part of the National Public Health Service Corps with a three-year commitment to practice medicine in rural America.
When he arrived in the 1990s, some had heard of the federal program that brought him there on a popular TV show at the time, Northern Exposure, which featured a young doctor transplanted from New York to Alaska.
But unlike the TV character, Meyer quickly felt at home as he practiced medicine in Clark County. Over the years, his role has deepened. Beyond seeing patients, he serves on community boards, in civic groups, and in other volunteer leadership roles.
“I figured out a small town was where I wanted to be,” he says. “They treat you as part of the family, and you become part of the fabric of the town you live in.”
As a doctor … you can go almost anywhere. Neillsville took me under their wing.
Meyer serves as faculty at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, and in this role, he brings medical students to Clark County as part of the university’s Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine.
“They get to experience what it is to be a small-town doctor, and they have the chance to see that a small-town doctor can leave a very big mark,” he says.
Years later, some of these students end up writing Meyer, telling him of finding their places in small communities across the United States. He says he thinks of the teachers and training that led him here, and how teachers have the power to affect generations.
“As a doctor entering the profession, you can go almost anywhere. I was blessed,” he says. “Neillsville took me under their wing. They took me in. As much as I try to give back, they’ve helped me more than I can ever repay.”