There is no shortage of strategies to recruit physicians to rural America.
With varying degrees of success, enticements have included student loan debt relief, homey pitches touting country living, membership at the local country club, a house, a car, no ED call, great schools for the kids, a cushy job for the spouse, and for foreign docs, a fast-track to U.S. citizenship.
For all the effort, however, physician recruiting and retention remains one of the most challenging issues in rural healthcare.
One critical access hospital in tiny Ashland, KS (pop. 855) may have found the answer. Rather than attempting to sway physicians with amenities, the 24-bed Ashland Health Center in the southwestern part of the Jayhawk State has instead appealed to physicians' sense of mission.
For the past two years Ashland Health has recruited—and retained—two physicians and three nurses by offering them up to eight weeks of paid time away from the hospital each year.