The hospital serves patients from 30 countries, Anderson says, most of whom are political refugees from some of the most challenged parts of the world—Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Burma, and parts of Central and South America.
Anderson says the refugees are a factor in recruitment. "People are coming because of them," he says. "What we're saying is there are people from 30 countries here, and you get to live among them. We'll give you time to go serve people overseas as well."
All physicians are given 10 weeks paid time off to use however they choose, but Anderson says they all use some of their time to volunteer overseas.
The providers, he explains, can be categorized into three groups—senders, goers, and bridgers. Senders are those who intend to spend their entire careers at Kearney County Hospital.
"What [the bridgers have] done for us … is they've stabilized our hospital … because they eliminate our need for locum work."
"They choose to spend some of their time going overseas, which reinvigorates them and encourages them as they serve here locally. It also equips them to serve locally," he says.
The senders are also motivated by the role they play in mentoring, training, and preparing the next group of physicians—the goers—to practice abroad.
Goers are physicians who come out of training and spend three to five years at Kearney County Hospital with the intent of moving abroad.
"[They] commit to coming here to get their loans paid off, to improve their language skills, to mature in their family relationships, and to strengthen their clinical skills so that they may move permanently overseas," Anderson says of this group. "They come here to live among Somalis, Burmese, Sudanese people so that they may move to those places and be better equipped."
The bridgers make six-month to one-year commitments to the organization, work a greater share of hours, and carry a heavier patient load in exchange for a short-term contract.
"What they've done for us, at least previously, is they've stabilized our hospital so that we can recruit goers and senders, because they eliminate our need for locum work," he says.
Anderson says the model has resulted in cost savings from elimination of costly locum tenens coverage. The organization has also seen an increase in operating revenue from $23 million to $31 million annually.
Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.