Boise, Idaho sits in the high desert right along the Boise River.
Boise, Idaho sits in the high desert right along the Boise River.

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Live & Practice: The Great Outdoors 2019

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Beautiful beaches, affordable cost of living and a tight-knit community are what Bobby Gulab, M.D., loves about practicing in Lewes, Delaware. - Photo by Tiffany Caldwell
Beautiful beaches, affordable cost of living and a tight-knit community are what Bobby Gulab, M.D., loves about practicing in Lewes, Delaware. – Photo by Tiffany Caldwell

In cities and towns around the country, getting outside is a way of life, and adventure lovers take advantage of nature’s playground whenever possible. In Rapid City, South Dakota, state and national parks offer jaw-dropping vistas. In Boise, Idaho, locals head to the mountains after work for night skiing. In Lewes, Delaware, residents and visitors alike play along miles of surf and sand. And in Austin, Texas, enjoying time outdoors is just part of everyday life—whether eating BBQ, listening to music or heading past the city limits to look at the stars.

Lewes, Delaware

The historic town of Lewes, Delaware, takes pride in its slogan: “The first town in the first state.” Founded in 1631, Lewes retains the charm of an old fishing village, but also boasts a vibrant culinary scene and a lively shopping district. In general, Southern Delaware is defined by its laid-back, beachy atmosphere, and it’s experiencing growth as families discover the high quality of life it affords. Plus, if you are a lover of watersports, there are miles of coastline to enjoy.

“It’s a privilege to be able to help care for people,” says Bobby Gulab, M.D. Gulab is senior vice president and chief medical officer for Beebe Medical Group in Lewes, Delaware. Gulab was born and raised in Delaware and completed his internal medicine residency at Christiana Care, a Delaware-based health system.

Gulab began to shift his focus from patient care to hospital administration during the economic recession in 2008. “When the economy was collapsing in 2008, there was so much talk about health care being a broken system. I felt strongly that physicians needed a better understanding of the business end of things,” he says. That’s when Gulab began pursuing an MBA with a concentration in health care at the University of Delaware.

Although Gulab leads the hospital on big-picture initiatives in his administrative role, he still sees patients two half-days a week. Gulab says that southern Delaware’s patient population is especially engaging, and there is a strong relationship between providers and the community they serve.

“We have a tight-knit relationship with the community, being a large health center in the area,” he says. “Doctors are really a big part of the community and provide a big service to the population; the Beebe doctors are well liked and very well-viewed in our community.” Gulab has special affection for Delaware, especially its beaches. “I think it’s great here. When I went away for medical school, I always knew I wanted to come back,” he says. “The cost of living is reasonable. It’s a good place to raise a family. We’re near the beaches. Our hospital is about one or two miles from the beach.”

Lewes sits on the picturesque coast of Sussex County. In Lewes, the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean meet, giving beach-goers a multitude of options when they want to get outside and enjoy the sun and surf. Families with kids can splash in the gentle waves at Lewes Beach, while surfers and sport fishers can head to ocean waters.

According to Tina Coleman, communications manager at Southern Delaware Tourism, pretty much any kind of adventure is possible when you explore the great outdoors in Sussex County.

“Southern Delaware is a fabulous playground for outdoor adventurers; beach, boating and watersports lovers; bicyclists; surfers; and hikers and fitness enthusiasts of all stripes,” she says.

In Lewes, Cape Henlopen State Park is a can’t-miss attraction. It’s the place where bay and ocean meet, so visitors can enjoy swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding and more. There is also a WWII historical museum, a seaside nature center, a nature preserve, a Frisbee golf course and a fishing pier. All in all, says Coleman, “It’s a dream of a state park.”

After agriculture, tourism is the largest economic driver in the region, according to Coleman. In the fall, there are festivals almost every weekend, including the popular Sea Witch Halloween & Fiddlers Festival. Year-round activities include restaurant weeks, sidewalk sales, garden tours, farmers markets, artists’ studio tours, history lectures, state park events and tours, and more.

“Southern Delaware’s beach communities have welcomed visitors and tourists for generations, so warm hospitality is baked in,” says Coleman. “With so many activities available for families to enjoy together, the area is most definitely family-friendly.”

When talking to candidates, Marilyn Hill, director of physician services at Beebe Medical Group, underscores the high quality of life that is possible in Southern Delaware.

“We have a number of things to do in addition to the water sports,” says Hill. “Lots of golf, cycling, runners. There are a lot of parades, a lot of community. It’s also very artistic and the dining here is really superb.” And, she says, the school systems are great.

Hill also says the state is known for its low taxation, including real estate taxes. That’s something that candidates might not know about the region, but it can be attractive.

Beebe Medical Center is a 210-bed facility located in Lewes, just blocks from the coast. The health system has satellite facilities throughout the region and is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar expansion. When complete, Beebe Healthcare will have a new surgical hospital, an additional cancer center, two freestanding emergency rooms and a hybrid operating room. The hospital is already equipped with a 20-bed open ICU and a brand new da Vinci surgical robot.

Beebe is currently recruiting for family practice, internal medicine, hospitalists, endocrinology, critical care, pulmonary specialists, neurology, OB-GYN, dermatology and more.

Hill says that another feature of the region is its convenience to other locations. “We’re close to Philadelphia, Baltimore, D.C.—even New York City in a day.”

Meanwhile, back in Delaware, Gulab enjoys the area’s tight-knit feel. “The towns aren’t huge, but people get to know you and your family and you feel like part of a bigger community,” says Gulab. “Rehoboth and Lewes have tons of restaurants and tons of activities and social opportunities. We’re a growing area that continues to grow and we have a lot of opportunity.”

Coleman agrees that Southern Delaware is perfect for “those who love a day-to-day laid back, beachy atmosphere,” but want to be within a couple hours of what the big cities have to offer.

On a nice beach day, though, it will be hard to find any reason to leave.

Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas, is known for world-famous music festivals and has earned its reputation as the live music capital of the world. But it also has beautiful outdoor spaces, great food (barbecue and beyond) and endless activities for both adults and families. With a population that hovers around 950,000, Austin is home to numerous health care systems.

Waleed Abdelhafez, M.D., became fascinated with pediatrics while attending medical school at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. On his rotation at Texas Children’s Hospital, he saw both standard pediatric cases as well as rare diseases and disorders.

“This experience allowed me to see how strong and resilient children are,” says Abdelhafez. “Their honest smiles and giggles is what drew me to becoming a pediatrician.”

He completed his pediatric residency at the University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School. During that time, he did clinical rotations at several facilities, including the People’s Community Clinic (PCC), which has two sites in Austin. It was the rotation he enjoyed most.

“Community medicine holds a special place in my heart because I grew up getting check-ups in a similar setting,” he says. “That’s why I have dedicated myself to serving this population.”

Now a specialist in general pediatrics at PCC, Abdelhafez enjoys working at a mission-driven organization alongside committed colleagues.

“The providers and staff at PCC genuinely care and strive to provide the best health care to our patients as well as promote community resources such as cooking classes, summer camp programs, free lunches over the summer school break and much more,” he says.

In addition to providing primary care outpatient services, the clinic has a number of unique programs that aim to support its patient population.

“One of my favorite resources is our GOALS program, which helps facilitate communication with schools regarding school evaluations/testing,” says Abdelhafez. This program helps schools effectively manage conditions like ADHD and other learning disabilities among students.

PPC also has an in-house pharmacy to provide medications for uninsured patients. “We don’t only treat diseases, but also social determinants of health,” says Abdelhafez.

As a provider, Abdelhafez feels appreciated by his colleagues—and the feeling is mutual.

“Everyone is dedicated to providing exceptional care to our patients, but we also show our friends and colleagues appreciation for all their hard work,” he says. “This helps sustain our efforts to continue our mission of improving the health of the medically underserved and uninsured of Central Texas by providing high-quality, affordable health care with dignity and respect.”

When it comes to choosing a health care employer in Austin, physicians have options. Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas is the primary teaching hospital for the Dell Medical School. The university has three other teaching hospitals in the area, including a children’s hospital. All four hospitals are part of the Seton Healthcare Family, a network with over 100 clinical locations.

There’s also St. David’s HealthCare, a health system with more than 119 sites across Central Texas. The network, which is the third largest private employer in the Austin area, has a partnership with two nonprofits: St. David’s Foundation and Georgetown Health Foundation.

While the city undoubtedly attracts music lovers, there are lots of ways to enjoy Austin. According to Abdelhafez, Austin has the best barbecue in Texas. Pleasant weather year-round means it is possible to explore the great outdoors almost anytime you want. Austin is often ranked among the fittest cities in the U.S., and it helps that there are great running and biking trails. Austin residents can often be found enjoying Lady Bird Lake, a section of the Colorado River that was dammed off in 1960. It runs right through downtown Austin, and you will see people paddleboarding, river cruising and kayaking. People even come to the park to watch bats, which famously congregate under a downtown bridge.

Near Austin is Palmetto State Park, a forest with an array of tropical vegetation. There is also Pedernales Falls State Park, a weekend getaway spot popular for star gazing. To see Austin from above, try the short but steep hike up Mount Bonnell. The view is worth the trek.

During his time off, Abdelhafez likes exploring the city with his family. “We enjoy the outdoors and visiting different parks and trails,” he says. “We especially enjoy going to the Thinkery—my son enjoys playing and splashing in the water exhibit.”

For Abdelhafez, Austin—and PCC—was the right choice. It gives him the opportunity to work for an organization that provides high-quality care to the underserved in a specialty he loves.

Says Abdelhafez, “Not every day in medicine is a good day, but my patients and families always find a way to make me smile.”

Pediatrician Waleed Abdelhafez, M.D., enjoys serving the medically underserved and uninsured in Central Texas. - Photo by Brio Yiapan.
Pediatrician Waleed Abdelhafez, M.D., enjoys serving the medically underserved and uninsured in Central Texas. – Photo by Brio Yiapan.

Rapid City, South Dakota

In Rapid City, South Dakota, you will find Western hospitality, awe-inspiring national parks and monuments, a surprising lack of traffic jams and no personal income tax. With a population of approximately 75,000, this city has opportunities for arts and culture, family-friendly activities, and of course, outdoor adventures. It serves as the economic and medical hub for the region, and one of the biggest draws for physicians is the fact that it offers great work/life balance.

Physicians who want to experience nature in its full splendor find lots to do in Rapid City. There are lots of surrounding national parks to explore, including the magnificent Badlands National Park. There is also South Dakota’s crown jewel, Custer State Park, which is famous for its bison herds, historic sites and lakes.

And of course, there is Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the iconic landmark that is just 30 minutes outside Rapid City. Whether you are moving to South Dakota or just there for a visit, it is something you have to see. The City of Presidents in downtown Rapid City is also a famed attraction, and will unveil its life-size statue of former President Barack Obama this year.

According to Julie Jensen, executive director of the Rapid City Convention Center and Visitors Bureau, you can’t find a more family-friendly community than Rapid City. Plus, the destination has “all of the big-city amenities, with a small-town ‘Americana’ feel.”

When work calls, nearly 5,000 physicians and other providers head to Regional Health, the area’s largest health care system. Through five hospitals and 25 clinics, Regional Health provides care spanning 32 specialties. In January, a new Orthopedic & Specialty Hospital opened that includes space for everything from surgery to massage therapy. Regional Health is currently recruiting for cardiology, endocrinology, family and internal medicine, neurology and more.

People from all different backgrounds and demographics are proud to live and work in Rapid City.

“City leaders, from our mayor and city council to our chief of police and Native American leaders, along with incredible public servants, deep-rooted philanthropists and our worship community, work daily to create the rich quality of life you’ll find in Rapid City,” says Jensen. “Neighbors take care of their neighbors; it’s just part of our western hospitality.”

With direct flights to Denver, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Chicago and Charlotte, to name a few destinations, getting in and out of Rapid City is easy.

That is, if you run out of things to do in South Dakota—and that’s not likely to happen.

With events like the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo, the Black Hills Film Festival, countless family-friendly programs and distinct restaurants, all ages can enjoy what the city offers.

And when in doubt, you can get outside. With so much natural beauty in the region, places from the Badlands to the Black Hills will keep you coming back for more.

Boise, Idaho

Boise, Idaho, sits in the high desert, right along the Boise River. It has been named a “Top 10 City for Active Families” by Outside Magazine, and adventure lovers will be delighted to discover how true that is. The city also has great food, breweries and wineries, and a thriving downtown scene. With expanding regional health systems, hospitals are evolving to meet the needs of the region’s growing population while maintaining their community feel.

In some ways, Boise is exactly what you would expect: a city with easy access to mountains, rivers and lakes. Breathtaking scenery is the norm here, and it is impossible to get bored outdoors when each season offers new recreation and exploration opportunities.

But in other ways, it surprises. If you have never visited Boise, you might not know that more people of Basque descent live in the Boise area, per capita, than any other place outside the Basque regions of Southern France and Northern Spain.

“In Boise, the Basque culture is alive and well,” says Carrie Westergard, executive director of the Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau. To experience the culture, residents head to the Basque Block, where they can enjoy the Basque Museum, restaurants that feature Basque cooking, and the Basque Market, stocked with traditional wines and food. The Basque Center, built in 1949, offers community events like Basque dancing.

The lively downtown nightlife is another thing that might surprise you about Boise. But with a population of approximately 225,000 and a greater metro area population of around 700,000, Boise is the most populous city in Idaho. There is plenty to do here, even if you are less inclined to hit the ski slopes or hop on a mountain coaster ride. (More on that in a moment.)

Arts and cultural offerings in Boise include the Morrison Center for the Performing Arts, the Boise Philharmonic, Zoo Boise, the Boise Art Museum, the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial and more. If you are a sports enthusiast, you can check out the famous blue turf football field where the Boise State Broncos play or catch an Idaho Steelheads hockey game or a Boise Hawks baseball game.

So, about that mountain coaster. You’ll find that at Bogus Basin, a ski area with 37,000 acres available for downhill and Nordic skiing, snowshoeing and tubing. During the summer, you can hike and bike the terrain, or ride the chairlift or mountain coaster for a different vantage point.

According to Westergard, in the summer, you will find residents floating on the Boise River, hiking or biking over 190 miles of trails in the foothills of the nearby mountains, or walking or running the 25-mile Boise River Greenbelt, which snakes along the Boise River as it runs through the city.

“Each season offers the most amazing scenery changes and new activities to do outside,” says Whitney Clark, a physician recruiter at St. Luke’s Health System. That is part of what she conveys to candidates considering Boise.

“You get to live in a city that is large enough to provide great access and state-of-the-art health care, however it’s small enough that you can live 10 miles away from work and get to work in 10 minutes, rather than sitting in traffic for an hour,” says Clark.

St. Luke’s Health System is Idaho’s largest employer, with a 380-bed hospital in downtown Boise plus eight other hospitals spread throughout the state.

The organization is always recruiting for primary care specialties, including internal medicine, family medicine, hospitalists and behavioral health. As it grows its neuroscience departments, it is also seeking neurologists, neurohospitalists and doctors specializing in movement disorder, neurointerventional radiology and neurosurgery. The children’s hospital is currently recruiting for pediatric surgery, pediatric critical care, endocrinology, acute care surgery, cardiology, hematology/oncology and orthopedic surgery, among other specialties.

According to Clark, St. Luke’s has been named a top 15 health system in the country for five consecutive years by IBM Watson/Truven Health Analytics. It offers the only children’s hospital in the state and is currently the only Idaho hospital to provide allogeneic transplants.

“St. Luke’s is leading a transformative change right now with population health and moving from fee-for service to value-based care,” says Clark.

According to Clark, the physician and employee experience also makes St. Luke’s stand out.

“St. Luke’s is great because while it’s a large health system, it’s still a small community. I have met our wonderful president and CEO, Dr. David Pate, on a few occasions,” says Clark. “In fact, just last week he served me food at the employee appreciation holiday meal. It’s amazing to be able to work for a large organization and still feel like your voice can be heard.”

The fact that St. Luke’s is locally owned and operated makes a big difference too, she says.

“I love knowing that the people helping make decisions live here in Idaho and know what’s best for us.”


Liz Funk

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