Increase recruitment efforts

By Zack Budryk

Since two of the top problems for rural providers are a shortage of workers and better-equipped, more specialized competition, improved recruitment strategies can kill two birds with one stone.

Increased recruitment capabilities are one of the major benefits of the Southern Hospital Alliance. Many doctors and specialists may be reluctant to work in rural settings, but providing incentives such as practice management assistance helped participants draw top talent in Arizona.

Several states have recently expanded programs aimed at enticing doctors to practice in rural settings as well. For example, this year Minnesota legislators sponsored a bipartisan bill providing financial incentives to health workers who agree to practice in a rural area for at least three years after finishing school. The Virginia Senate unanimously passed a similar bill, which expanded the state's existing tuition-relief program to encompass students from out-of-state schools who agreed to practice in underserved regions. And Arizona proposed to expand an existing law offering student-loan relief to rural doctors by allowing private donations, adding to the flow of relief funds without adding to the taxpayer burden.

Doctors aren't the only badly-needed positions in rural healthcare. Rural hospitals must also recruit innovative, committed CEOs, making sure to seek  community-oriented, relationship-focused leaders who work well with physicians and boards alike.

Increase recruitment efforts