Friday, August 23, 2019

Rural hospitals use creative strategies to lure doctors

A local hospital CEO lures doctors to rural Idaho with the area's natural beauty (Photo by Thomas Hawk)
Rural areas have notorious difficulty in getting doctors to turn their backs on urban areas and practice in the country, but some have seen success with creative recruitment strategies.

"For some rural hospitals, that dire need is the basis of their recruiting pitch: Come here. Make a difference," Yuki Noguchi reports for NPR. That's part of how Kearny County Hospital in Lakin, Kansas, reversed its fortunes over the past few years.

CEO Benjamin Anderson appeals to doctors who feel driven to relieve suffering and pursue justice and equity, he said. He also pitches the benefits of a close-knit, caring community to prospective hires. "But the cornerstone of the hospital's recruitment pitch is 10 weeks of paid sabbatical a year, which allows time for doctors to serve on medical missions overseas," Noguchi reports. "It's a compelling enough draw that every couple of weeks, Anderson gets a call from physicians saying they want to work in Lakin, despite its remoteness."

Lost Rivers Medical Center, in the central Idaho community of Arco, takes another tack: CEO Brad Huerta tries to bring in doctors by selling them on the natural beauty of the area. "You like mountain climbing, we're gonna go mountain climbing," Huerta said. He sometimes even takes prospective hires on ATV tours or small plane flights to show them around the back country. Huerta's strategy has taken Lost Rivers from bankruptcy and nearly closing six years ago to fully staffed today, Noguchi reports.

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