Anderson knew that something had to change. So he consulted with the faculty at Wichita-based Via Christi‘s medical residency program to develop the hospital’s current recruitment strategy: offering eight weeks of paid time off to physicians in order to allow them to complete mission work overseas.
For other employees, the paid time off ranges from four to eight weeks, depending on their contract and time of service, but any hourly employee starts with four weeks off.
Although employees can use their time off for anything they want, "these people here will use it for international mission work. But you don't just want to allow it," Anderson says. "You want to encourage it. You want to show that the same people that are working overseas in mud huts in Africa are people that can compassionately care for rural Kansans as well."
Despite some major differences between rural Africa and rural Kansas, there are similarities, too, such as a lack of access to care. But even though they're recruiting physicians who want to work in underserved areas, Anderson acknowledges that rural Kansas is not the third world.
"This can be one of the most comfortable places to live," he says. "We're simply saying that there are similar challenges between here and overseas and the same solutions apply."
Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.