Serendipitously, Anderson found that the focus on commitment to a mission also serves as a vetting tool that attracts "people who are motivated by service and who are inclined to work for a cause that is greater than themselves."
At first, the board of directors at Ashland Health Center raised concerns about the cost of providing two months of paid time off, which combines vacation, sick days, and personal days. Anderson says most clinicians would get that much time off as part of a compensation package without the optional international service program. "The alternative is to pay locums to cover you shift by shift," he says. "That isn't good for care or continuity. It's not a good model. It is unsustainable."
There was also concern that the call to missionary work was creating religious requirements for the publicly funded hospital. But Anderson says there are no demands placed upon clinicians' paid leave.
"It can't be faith-based because we are not a faith-based hospital," he says. "We are telling them you can use it however you want. It just so happens we are meeting quite a few people that are faith-focused, and that is OK. If that is what motivates them and the results are excellent, compassionate care, great. Go for it."
Anderson says any rural hospitals can copy the Ashland blueprint if it has a "mission-focused CEO."