"I don't say that lightly. That is often the missing link," he says. "For administrators it isn't as simple as paying somebody for time off. We want to quantify things. What is the cost for me? There is an intrinsic cost and certain intrinsic or intangible benefits. An administrator has to get it and if they don't when they recruit these people they aren't going to stay. Doctors have to know the administration is as committed to the mission and the organization as they are."
Once that happens, Anderson says, hospitals can recruit staff whose personal mission matches the organizational mission.
"But if you don't understand your own personal mission or vision, or that mission or vision is to stay open another day, that isn't exciting," he says. "Doctors don't run to 'I want to stay open another day.' They want to do it for something bigger than just staying alive."
The program at Ashland Health has been so successful that all of the hospital's 90 or so full-time employees—from doctors to dishwashers—have the opportunity to serve overseas.
"There is a direct parallel. So the more people in our facility that we can get over to see those things before their hearts are changed and the more our local culture is enriched," Anderson says.
Even though Kansas is a world away from Africa, Anderson says all humans share a need for compassionate and accessible care.
"I am fascinated by what serving orphans and widows and people in poverty in Africa does to open our eyes and ears and hearts to needs of orphans and widows and people in poverty here," Anderson says. "It's transforming the culture inside our walls."