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A rural hospital uses "mission-focused medicine" to recruit doctors

Insufficient insurance payments, administrative hassles tied to insurance claims and rising business and malpractice insurance expenses are among the most commonly cited contributing factors to the shortage of rural doctors in America.

Despite the challenges, a hospital in Kansas has had success getting medical professionals to come to its small town by adopting an innovative recruiting approach. As Shots reports, the hospital appeals to people who want to handle "problems most commonly found in third-world countries:"

...[Hospital CEO Benjamin Anderson] offers potential candidates eight weeks off to do missionary work overseas. Because he's found that a doctor who is willing to sleep on a cot in the Amazon or treat earthquake victims in Haiti is ready to serve in rural Kansas. He calls it mission-focused medicine.

"When you recruit a mission-focused provider, they want to see the ghettos," he says. "They want to know that there's no Spanish-speaking provider in more than a one-hour drive. They want to see houses that are falling down, widows that are uncared for. They want to know that there's need and that by them coming there, they would fill a disparity that would otherwise not be filled. So we reversed it."

It worked. Last July, Dr. Dan Shuman and his family moved here from the Austin, Texas, area. The difference between here and all the other needy areas was his ability to continue his missionary work in Haiti and Mexico during his eight weeks off. But Shuman says Ashland's own challenges were equally attractive.

Previously: Medical schools create programs to address physician shortage in rural United States, Newspaper series examines rural health-care challenges and Nun discusses health care in rural America

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