Landing a long-sought physician is only half the battle. The real challenge: convincing that doctor to plant roots in the community, especially if it's rural areas.

Board members and executives can be influential, making sure that the doctor has sufficient backup not only to avoid burnout, but also to thrive professionally, says John Supplitt, senior director of the American Hospital Association's Section for Small or Rural Hospitals.

"There has to be an incentive for them to live in a rural area that has certain lifestyle demands and certain isolation. It's not simply more money," he says.

Create a safety net, whether it's tapping the help of other doctors or mid-level practitioners, so the physician can leave town for more than an occasional vacation, Supplitt says. Physicians also need to attend professional conferences and other educational events. While online interactions are helpful, Supplitt believes there's no substitute for in-person networking.

"They often don't have a peer group," he says. "They need a professional sounding board against whom they can bounce off ideas, so they can learn more and practice better."

Meanwhile, don't ignore the personal side of the equation, says Mark Doescher, M.D., director of the Washington-Wyoming-Alaska-Montana-Idaho Rural Health Research Center.

Today's doctors are increasingly part of two-career couples, which means that the spouse will need to find meaningful work nearby, he says. Plus, pay attention to the caliber of other community amenities, such as the schools, because physicians will be vetting them.

"The best way to recruit is to not have to," says Travis Singleton, senior vice president, Merritt Hawkins, a physician recruiting firm based in Irving, Texas. "Reach out to your current physicians. Find out if they are happy, if they are not happy, and what you can do to make their lives better."