Larry Dickinson, D.O., family physician in Gallatin, was awarded the 2017 Osteopathic Family Physician of the Year Award by the Missouri Society of the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians (MSACOFP).

Dr. Dickinson was honored at a ceremony on Jan. 28, 2017, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Independence, MO, during the 2017 MSACOFP Winter Scientific Seminar. The prestigious award is given to an osteopathic family physician who exemplifies the principles of osteopathic family medicine via outstanding accomplishments and service for the betterment of the osteopathic profession. He was nominated by John R. Sparks, D.O.

Among the last general practitioners serving families in Northwest Missouri is Dr. Larry Dickinson of Gallatin, MO. Growing up on the family farm near Carlow, MO, Dickinson was a 1968 graduate of Gallatin High School and earned a osteopathy degree at Truman State University at Kirksville, MO. 

Dr. Dickinson is a 1975 graduate of A.T. Still University – Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, MO. He has been in private practice for over 40 years and is an active staff member at Hedrick Medical Center in Chillicothe. He is board certified in family medicine by the American Osteopathic Board of Family Physicians. Dr. Dickinson has been active with the MSACOFP for many years and served on the Board of Governors from 2010-2012.

Dr. Dickinson also served the Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons (MAOPS) on its Board of Trustees and as a delegate at its House of Delegates.

Larry grew up on the family farm in “beautiful downtown Carlow” in Daviess County and they still own the farm.

Growing up on the farm, Larry dealt with runts and sickly animals on a regular basis. And he found that if he took care of them, they usually lived. And when they lived, they became his property. “I made money that way,” he said. He was actually born at Hedrick Medical Center and graduated from Gallatin R-5 High School in 1968.

His experience with small animals made him a hero to his young children when he saved their ailing pets, at one time even using an IV to care for a small dog with a flailed chest. The dog lived to a ripe old age.

Dr. Dickinson stopped delivering babies in 2004, due to the high cost of malpractice insurance. With malpractice insurance so high, after 28 years and roughly 2,000 deliveries (1,864 after coming to Gallatin, not counting the babies delivered in training), he made the decision to quit.

The last baby he delivered was on Nov. 10, 2004. He recalls that all of the OB nurses at Hedrick gathered for that last delivery, just to mark the milestone. There were so many nurses in the room that the mother asked if it was normal to have so many. But they were celebrating his last delivery. “Quitting was like withdrawal,” he said. “And we had an empty nest at the same time.”

When Dr. Dickinson first started his practice, there were eight physicians in Daviess County alone, and there were seven doctors making deliveries at Hedrick in 1976.

Larry and Patty met while he was in medical school at Kirksville. Patty was working toward a degree in Special Ed and Learning Disabilities. Larry graduated on June 4, 1975, and the two were married three days later.

Patty spent some time in her chosen profession. She set up the K-12 programs for Special Ed and Learning Disabilities in Ashley, Michigan, Bowling Green, Missouri, and Gallatin, where she taught for three years.

But when Larry needed help at his office in Gallatin, Patty volunteered. They’ve worked in tandem since 1976. “We were newlyweds,” said Larry. “And we just didn’t see much of each other.”

The benefits of working together are many. “When you get home you don’t have to tell the story over again. She already knows it,” said Larry.

Together, Larry and Patty delivered 14 babies in his office. “She can hand me the right instruments, while holding a baby on her hip … at 1 a.m. in the morning. She is very adept!” Patty stayed at home for a few years when their kids were small, but then started bringing them to the office, the best kind of daycare … with both mom and dad around.

Larry and Patty built their home east of Gallatin on Highway O in 1989.

Both of the Dickinsons’ children have pursued careers in the medical field. Their son Patrick and his wife Ashley reside in Valparaiso, Ind. Patrick is in anesthesia as a CRNA and Ashley is the Chief Operating Officer of Porter Hospital in Valparaiso. Kari and her husband Eric Genenbacher reside in Mesa, Ariz., where they are busy with Eric’s dental practice and raising their daughter Reese and son Rhett.

Since Dr. Dickinson’s office is equidistant between four hospitals, many trauma victims are actually brought to his office to stabilize. He has dealt with many industrial accidents, as well as agricultural accidents.

“If you do what you’re trained to do, I can’t imagine not being kind and genuine as part of this vocation. It’s second nature, because it helps a lot of people more than medicine, especially patients who are terminal or have a disease that can’t be cured. And I always tell my young mothers that I don’t mind if they call me at home, because we’re both more comfortable knowing that the baby is ok. And it is great to have the privilege of taking care of five generations of a family, too.”

In 1983, the Columbia Missourian did a story on Dr. Dickinson, because his name kept cropping up in the university’s sociology studies concerning country doctors and doctor shortages. He has a long list of professional osteopathic affiliations on his resume. He served as Hedrick’s chief of staff in 1987, 2000 and 2005, as well as many other positions there. He served on the Board of Directors of Hedrick Medical Center from 1993-2003, and on the board of Grand River Medical System – St. Luke’s Health System from 2003 to 2005. He was the 1993 Missouri Emergency Medical Service Association “Physician of the Year.” He is also affiliated with Wright Memorial Hospital in Trenton and Daviess County Nursing and Rehab.

Dr. Dickinson may have been the last person to do family practice and OB, because that’s very uncommon now. But he still takes care of babies. The hours are not quite as long now. He doesn’t have to go to the hospital every day, so he can have office calls in the morning.

“I need to write a book,” Larry said. “My stories aren’t always sad or funny, but they’re good solid memories of 40 years. One night I parked in a different spot at the hospital, and the staff got concerned. I had put in a long night and had simply disappeared to take an hour’s nap, but I got in trouble for moving my parking spot!”

Dr. Dickinson’s most recent honor is from the MSACOFP, a network of osteopathic family physicians dedicated to providing the finest family medical care in Missouri. The mission of the MSACOFP is to preserve and promote the distinct philosophy and practice of osteopathic family medicine by advancing quality education, leadership and responsible advocacy. The MSACOFP actively works to defend and protect the rights and interests of the osteopathic family physician.

In Dr. Dickinson’s words to the Society:  “I would like to thank my wife and children for their support in allowing me to live this dream. All I’ve ever asked was the love and respect of my patients and my community. Now to be recognized by my peers; all I can say is, I humbly thank you.”

[Portions of this story were taken from an article printed in the Gallatin North Missourian in September, 2006, when Larry and Patty were chosen to be grand marshals in Gallatin’s Chautauqua parade.]