Just over a month after Box Butte General Hospital (BBGH) temporarily suspended labor and delivery, the hospital announced today (Jan. 28) that Derek Shafer, MD, has signed on to be a Family Medicine/OB practitioner at Greater Nebraska Medical & Surgical Services (GNMSS). Current plans are for him to join the staff in July of 2019.
BBGH doesn’t usually announce a new physician or mid-level provider until he or she is physically at GNMSS, a new release stated, but Dr. Shafer plans to provide OB and C-section services for his patients.
“When we announced in late December that we had to suspend our Labor and Delivery services due to a lack of physicians providing that service, we promised we would work diligently to recruit Family Practice/OB physicians so we could reinstate Labor & Delivery service for our area,” BBGH CEO Lori Mazanec said “Dr. Shafer’s hiring fulfills part of that commitment, which will allow Alliance Family Medicine’s (AFM) Dr. Timothy Narjes to begin seeing OB patients again soon after Dr. Shafer begins his practice here. We will continue to seek additional Family Practice/OB physicians to ensure the service continues in the future.”
Shafer’s decision to join the GNMSS medical staff was facilitated by a rotation he did at AFM. “My residency is based in Scottsbluff for the last two years,” he said, “and we do monthly rotations. I did my rural rotation in Alliance in August 2018. I do think that it made it easier for my decision to go to Alliance. Being able to get to know the town; meeting the patients; and experiencing what a typical schedule would be at the hospital helped. The Hospitalist program at BBGH was another factor, because it allows me to have less inpatient call responsibilities so I can focus on OB and outpatient medicine. Also, I enjoyed the atmosphere at AFM and in the hospital. The facilities are nice and new, and even though I was at AFM, the congenial atmosphere of the hospital staff was evident.”
Shafer obtained his Medical Doctorate from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 2016. As mentioned, his education since has been the UNMC Family Medicine Residency Rural Training Track, with an anticipated graduation in June of this year.
He wants to include OB and C-sections as part of his Family Practice, because, “One of the best parts about being a doctor is aiding patients through difficult situations, good or bad. Delivering babies is one of those times where there is joy of new life, and that is incredibly fulfilling. Doing operative OB (C-sections) is a natural extension of doing typical OB, because that is a need for a significant amount of patients. I’ve already done many vaginal deliveries at RWMC, as well as been first assist and primary physician in many Cesarean Sections.”
Shafer’s decision to focus his medical career on Family Practice had a two-fold influence. First, his father is also a family physician. Second was his experience in medical school. “In medical school there wasn't one specific area that I liked much more than anything else,” he recalled. “In family medicine, you get to do a little bit of everything, with different needs for every patient. Additionally, the long term relationships that family medicine doctors have and the opportunity to establish with their patients are unmatched in other medical fields.”
When asked what he hopes to accomplish in his practice at GNMSS, Shafer concluded, “For me, the best part of being a doctor is being able to impact peoples’ lives … not just in one or two visits, but throughout their life. I hope to be that influence for the community and also to fill the need of OB care.”
The new GNMSS physician is from Sioux Falls, SD, and his wife Taylor is from Colorado. The couple has a toddler son. Shafer is a “board game aficionado,” enjoys sports of all kinds and reading. He also has a passion for missionary medicine, with his most recent missionary work a trip of 10 days to Haiti. Shafer plans to go on another mission in May of 2019 for a month, this time to Malawi.
“It is such an exciting time and I am honored to be able to introduce Dr. Shafer and his family to Alliance,” Mazanec concluded. “They will be a great addition to BBGH and the Alliance community. Being able to offer OB services is essential for our community, and Dr. Shafer’s hire is a great start to accomplishing that goal.”
Once settled in Alliance, BBGH will host a meet and greet for Shafer and his family.