Oftentimes, the events in a young person’s life have a lasting effect on them as they become adults. For Neligh native Jeff Yosten, his experiences as a kid helped motivate him to become a successful man that gives back to the community daily.
Yosten graduated from Neligh-Oakdale in 1990, wrapping up a high school career that saw him face a battle few teenagers expect to face.
“I had an electrical problem with my heart and had open-heart surgery in December 1988,” he said.
The surgery caused Yosten to spend 10 days in the hospital in St. Louis over Christmas break that year. He was forced to miss his junior year of basketball, but ultimately, he made a quick and full recovery. As a matter of fact, by the time track season rolled around, he was back in action for the Warriors.
Despite the severity of open-heart surgery, that series of events was far from the only tragic event he experienced. When Yosten was just 10 years old, his father, Joe, a state trooper, was killed in a hunting accident. His father’s name is now memorialized on the Neligh-Oakdale Jaws of Life unit.
After that, Yosten spent a lot of time with his mother, Avis, as well as working constantly.
“My mom was then a single parent working her tail off. I started going to Gene Smith’s east of town. He would pay me to walk beans. I detassled corn. Plus, I worked my swimming pool job and Pizza Hut at the same time. I did everything I could to help my mom,” he explained.
Once he graduated, he went directly into the service with the Army National Guard. Three days after graduation, Yosten shipped off to Fort Benning, Ga. where he spent his summer for basic training. During that time, his friends back home were winning the state baseball tournament while he was training away.
He knew he wanted to attend school then and they were able to help him with it. The problem is, he couldn’t figure out what he wanted to be.
“I wanted to do something fun like mechanical engineering but I flunked out of calculus so I went with biology instead,” he joked.
His father’s death and his own experience in the hospital in high school motivated to want to help other, so he decided he to become a doctor.
He earned his biology degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. From there he moved on to the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha before heading out to Colorado, where he had a family practice internship in Greeley. He then moved on to Akron, Ohio where he did a residency in an emergency room. He moved to Omaha in 2003 where they both worked in the ER for Allegiant Health. Then in 2008, he was recruited by Faith Regional Health Services to work in the ER in Norfolk, where he now serves the Director of Emergency Medicine. His wife, Lisa, serves as the Assistant Director of Emergency Medicine under him, officially.
“Well, only on paper,” he joked.
Outside of work, the Yosten and his wife stay busy trying to keep up with their three kids, Gavin, Avery and Gage. While he admits that moving back home was never truly in the cards for him, now that he has a family he truly appreciates being back in Northeast Nebraska.
“It was one of those things, growing up you think ‘Oh I need to get out of here,’” he said. “All the sudden you get older and realize its a good place to raise kids. That’s when we came back to Norfolk. We have no regrets.”