I have read that doctors were until the advent of penicillin not more effective than not seeing one. I am not sure what that meant: surely for some things, it was better to see a physician than not to but I guess for other things, you might be actually injured by the physician. I recall, for example, that by accident it was discovered that cauterizing wounds was not a very good idea when the oil for the procedure ran out and the military doctor could only clean and bandage the wounds of many and those soldiers actually were doing better. And we all know about bleeding and barber surgeons and mercury treatment for syphilis and failure to wash hands, etc.
So I am wondering if the country doctor in western movies was an anachronism or were doctors by the mid 19th century beginning to be respected or perhaps even before that it was a respected profession and if so, why? given their limited ability to treat patients.