Anderson also acknowledges what he calls "the elephant in the room:" recruiting missionaries to a tax-supported hospital.
"There were a couple of board members who had trouble with the idea of recruiting missionaries to a non-faith-based hospital," says Anderson, who is himself a Christian. But he insists that religion is kept out of the exam room and that "the boundary between faith and medicine…[is] not violated."
Anderson says Ashland's new recruitment model has promise for other rural areas—and he'll give the blueprint to anyone who asks for it.
He says the hospital has already recruited eight or nine people using this model, and they're still recruiting for other positions, such as a part-time physician and long-term care nurses. But it's not as easy as simply promising eight weeks off.
"It's about creating a paradigm that encourages service," he says. "The provider needs to find the mission in their work locally or they won't stay. That's the retention plan."
He also notes that members of the Millennial generation—those born after 1980—are often driven but by a desire to serve.
Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.