Recruiting during a physician shortage: Play up mission

Challenged to find physicians, a 24-bed hospital in southwest rural Kansas found a way to recruit doctors--through a reverse-recruitment model. Ashland Health Clinic, with a city population of 855 people and the closest center 50 miles away, has been recruiting physicians who are "mission-focused," NPR Shots reported.

Ashland Health offers potential candidates eight weeks off to do missionary work overseas.

"When you recruit a mission-focused provider, they want to see the ghettos," CEO Benjamin Anderson told NPR. "They want to know that there's no Spanish-speaking provider in more than a one-hour drive. They want to see houses that are falling down, widows that are uncared for. They want to know that there's need and that by them coming there, they would fill a disparity that would otherwise not be filled."

The appeal of mission-based work has worked, with a recent physician hire, who will continue missionary work in Haiti and Mexico during his eight weeks off.

Under healthcare reform, an estimated 32 million more Americans with health insurance is expected to strain the existing healthcare workforce.

The national workforce committee aimed at fixing the physician shortage problem has stalled due to partisan strife on Capitol Hill over the $3 million slated for the group, The Washington Post reported.

The intent of the National Health Care Workforce Commission is to analyze primary-care shortages and propose ways to fill the healthcare workforce. However, the group cannot convene, converse or hire staff with the budget opposed by House Republicans.

"The workforce is needed to accomplish health reform," said the commission's chairman, Peter Buerhaus, director of Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies. "Now the clock is beginning to tick loudly."

For more information:
- here's the NPR report
- read the Washington Post article

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