The problem in Mississippi is acute. In rural areas of the state, obesity and diabetes are the norm, and life expectancy is far lower than the national average, Hess notes. At least one county has no doctor at all. The program's recruiter says she's either looking for mavericks or missionaries. So far, more than 40 doctors are signed up to leave their residency and head straight for the Delta.
In rural Kansas, a small hospital is calling for missionary types, too, in something it calls "mission-focused" medicine. Based in a small town of 855 an hour north of Dodge, Kan., the Ashland Health Clinic has just 24 beds. It needed doctors who wanted to be in Ashland, but who felt a higher calling. The idea was to offer doctors who worked at the clinic eight weeks off every year to do missionary work overseas. Harvest Public Media's Peggy Lowe explained here that doctors in rural areas must deal with lower pay and isolation and that rewards like the two-month leave worked so well, the clinic got a new nursing director with the same sweet deal.