One CEO’s Rx for a doctor shortage

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

Albany, Mo., population 1,730, was sorely lacking doctors and nurses. Nearly a quarter of Americans live in rural towns like Albany, but only a tenth of the nation’s doctors practice there.

Albany’s 25-bed hospital had re­­sorted to employing a recruiter.

“You pretty much took what you could get,” says the hospital’s retired CEO, John Richmond. At his wits’ end, Richmond decided it was pointless to try to lure people in.

He began speaking in local schools about the rewards of caring for family and neighbors, and he started “pipeline” programs in which kids would shadow medical staff on their rounds. He also gave students paying jobs.

And those who showed a spark got financial aid for their medical studies in exchange for coming home to work for a number of years. Second-careerists could do the same.

“I was a sophomore in college,” says one newly minted physician, “and Mr. Richmond was already calling me ­‘Doctor.’”

Bottom line: 23 nurses, two medical technicians and two doctors, plus a Harvard honors graduate who came home to run the hospital.

— Adapted from “Home Remedy: A Small Town Solves Its Physician Shortage,” David Freed, The Atlantic.

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