August 17, 2017

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Dr. Robert Kaiser on 30 Years as a Family Medicine Physician at ACMC-Willmar

Dr. Robert Kaiser, ACMC-Willmar Family Medicine PhysicianFather. Husband. Doctor. Medical director. Friend. Family medicine physician Dr. Robert Kaiser is a man with many roles.  As of March 31, 2015, he can add retiree to that list. After 35 years at ACMC in Willmar, Dr. Kaiser has decided to hang up his white coat for the last time.

“I deliberately chose April Fool’s Day as my first day of retirement. My nurse is worried I’ll come back,” Dr. Kaiser joked.

And he plans to make the most of his retirement.  “I’ve spent 30 years juggling family time and my work as a doctor. Now it’s our time. My wife and I are looking forward to traveling and spending time with our family,” he said.

He’ll have plenty of time to fit in some of his favorite activities such as hunting, golfing and even yard work.  He also plans to spend more time volunteering for Prairiewood Environmental Center in Willmar. Though he’s excited to enter the next chapter in his life, he’s sad to turn the page on this one, too.

Lengthy Career in Family Medicine

“Medicine has been a part of my life as long as I can remember—long before I actually became a doctor,” Dr. Kaiser said.

He comes from a medical family. His father was a family medicine physician and was his biggest influence when it came time to choose a career path. His mother was a nurse, and two of his siblings and two children have careers in the medical field.

“I saw how much my dad loved his work. He had one partner and an old office above the dime store in New Ulm. I spent a lot of my childhood there or going on house calls with him. When I was in high school, I’d go to the hospital with him and even got to scrub into surgeries.  Times were definitely different then,” Dr. Kaiser said.  “With so much exposure to the medical field as a child, it’s no wonder I became a family medicine physician.”

As graduation passed, Dr. Kaiser found himself at the University of Minnesota, where he’d also attend medical school. It was the University of Minnesota’s Rural Physician and Associates Program (RPAP) that first led him to Granite Falls, though at the time their clinic wasn’t affiliated with ACMC.  He worked with physicians like Dr. Carl Lundell and Drs. Kenneth and Darrell Carter, who later became his partners when he joined ACMC after residency.

Caring for the Community for More than 30 YearsDr. Robert Kaiser in 1996

As his family grew so did his practice and ACMC.  One of the biggest changes through the years was technology as medical records transitioned from paper to digital. But Dr. Kaiser has seen many other changes in the past thirty years at ACMC as well. From adding new affiliate sites across southwestern and west central Minnesota to the addition of an ER doctor in Willmar in the 1990s.

“We were family medicine physicians, at the beck and call of the ER. Many of us had OB patients while also doing admissions at the hospital.  There were days we’d see 60 patients a day. It was always busy,” he said.

He was used to juggling a such a busy schedule that he decided to add another role to his plate, becoming ACMC’s fourth medical director from 1995 to 2006. Though he recognizes how challenging it was to balance a full practice and his role as medical director, those 11 years gave him a bigger appreciation for the day-to-day activities that happen behind the scenes at ACMC.

While he enjoyed his tenure as medical director, Dr. Kaiser was happy to get back to doing what he loved most full-time: caring for his patients.

And now as Dr. Kaiser prepares for retirement, he hopes his patients know how much he’s appreciated them entrusting their health care to him over the years.

“As a doctor, it’s the greatest honor and one of the most humbling things for someone to trust you to care for their health. I’ve enjoyed having so many wonderful people as my patients, and I’m going to miss being a part of their lives.”

Preparing for his retirement has given him a chance to walk down memory lane. Over his 30-year career at ACMC, he delivered more than 1,800 babies. Some were babies of patients he’d delivered years before. He’s one of many longtime ACMC physicians caring for multiple generations of families.

“I’ve had a lot of great conversations in the last year, learning how my patients actually became patients of mine and reminiscing about what we’ve been through together,” he said.  “Whether it’s a joyous moment like welcoming a baby to the world or a sad one when you lose someone to an awful disease, these patients and their stories stay with you,” Dr. Kaiser said.

And it isn’t just the patients he’ll miss.

“I’ve enjoyed the camaraderie among our physicians and all the wonderful staff I’ve had the pleasure of working with at ACMC. When you love what you do, time flies. I’ve enjoyed a long career here, but now its time to move on,” Dr. Kaiser said. “But before I do, I want everyone to know how thankful I am for them and for the chance to serve this community for as long as I have. It’s been more than I could ever ask for.”