On January 7, 2019, 3RNet will say, ‘Farewell, friend!’ to one of our long-time members: Wisconsin’s long-time organizational member Randy Munson. Randy is set to retire at the beginning of the New Year after recruiting physicians for 30 years! Randy has recruited physicians in a private firm (Milwaukee), as an in-house recruiter (University of Wisconsin Health/Physicians Plus Medical Group-Madison), and since 1990 with the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health. Over his career, he has also served as the Wisconsin 3RNet member since our inception in 1995 and has served two terms on 3RNet’s board.
3RNet’s culture includes an important nod to our roots and history, so we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to hear more from Randy’s perspective. If you don’t know Randy, one of the first things you may learn about him is that he’s sort of a character! His easy banter coupled with his genuine dedication to his state and program, New Physicians for Wisconsin, are no doubt how he’s helped the New Physicians for Wisconsin program bring over 550 physicians into the state since 1979. His highest year ever saw 22 physician recruits.
“I started on December 3, 1990. That day is infamous for two reasons: because the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health hired me, but also because we had the one-day record snowfall (17 inches) in Madison. I did not make it work on my first day on the job!”, Randy said.
“I was in Milwaukee working in a private retained physician recruiting firm and wanted to get back to Madison. One of our consultants was at a meeting in Madison and Fred [Moskol] was there. Fred mentioned they were going to hire a recruiter. Several months later, and Fred and his small staff hired me. Fred was my boss, and he’ll tell you he regrets it ever since,” he added, with a chuckle.
3RNet’s founder, Fred Moskol, led the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health and incorporated 3RNet in Wisconsin. Being based in Wisconsin and around when 3RNet got its start, we of course wanted to hear how Randy remembers that time.
“Jerry Coopey was a big part of the 3RNet. If he and Fred couldn’t have gotten together and if Jerry couldn’t have gotten some money to back it, it would have been difficult to get going. It started with a small group: [Tom] Tucker, [Mary] Amundson, [Tom] Rauner, Jan Hurst, [Steve] Shotwell just to name a few. It was much more informal, but I think it’s amazing that Fred was able to start a national organization from basically nothing and that’s grown to what it is now,” Randy said.
After 30 years in this line of work, Randy has some wisdom to share, and he hopes his legacy has something to do with his honesty in connecting communities and providers.
“When I talk to a doctor, I ask two questions: What do you want to do in your specialty…and where do you want to do it here in Wisconsin? Just having worked with all these clinics and hospitals for so long you just pack in a few things upstairs. And because of this tenure, I’ve just garnered a few things,” Randy said.
“I’ve tried to always be honest with people in a positive way. One thing I’ve always feared is having a position I am working on but never having been to the town. What if a candidate asks me this? I’d be embarrassed to admit I’d never been there or seen it in person. When I’m on the road to visit these hospitals and clinics I ask myself: what were there any positives? I want to come up with some positive spin on what I just saw/heard. There’s got to be some things positive about the job, the facilities, the community. I’m honest with candidates about this. I’ve always tried to resist putting that square peg in the round hole, even though I am a fee-based program and always have that “need to make placements” in the back of my mind,” he added.
“Whether I go out to a health care system with ten in-house recruiters or a hospital where it’s an administrator who wears the recruiting hat, when I let them know there are fees involved and they ask if there is a guarantee, I semi-jokingly say that unless there is a physician out in my car waiting to start that very day simply I can’t guarantee I’ll find someone. But I do state that the only guarantee I will make is that I will try my very hardest on their behalf to find them a new physician,” Randy said.
The biggest change Randy has seen in recruitment?
“By far….the Internet. And more recently e-mail. When I started, if I wanted to contact a physician I sent a letter with job descriptions and community brochures by snail mail, or I waited until I was at home after work and I would call them. I tried to never call in the daytime(unless the physician specifically asked me to), because I did not want to take them from their more important work caring for their patients or their continuing education as a physician. So I called mainly in the evening, hoping they were home. One of the advantages of calling in the evening was that many times I got to talk to the physician’s spouse, and find out really where they wanted to live and what their main requirements for a job was. We would do mass mailings—not email blasts, actual snail mail from AMA physician lists. As for phone calls, you would many times have to play “private investigator” to try and find their home numbers. There was no online internet searching for any of that, we just had to use what we could,” Randy said.
New Physicians for Wisconsin and how Wisconsin utilizes their 3RNet membership is a unique model for our national network. Randy has used that flexibility to his advantage and is an excellent example of how 3RNet members can work together to help one another.
“I talk about 3RNet with every resident I meet. Being a part of the medical school here in Madison, physician candidates tend to view my program as a neutral “third-party”. We don’t just represent one clinic, hospital or healthcare system, but the entire state. I have had the privilege every year since I started of talking to all the family residents at their residency programs. I make about a dozen trips a year around the state and give a presentation about the New Physicians for Wisconsin program, state/federal/private loan repayment options, and also hand out 3RNet information to those residents who indicate they may not be staying in Wisconsin after they complete their training . I say, ‘I wish you all would want to stay in Wisconsin but I understand there are very valid reasons you may be looking in another state! And the need for family physicians is great everywhere. That’s when I present the 3RNet to them and add: “These are the good guys. They are all non-profits. They are state or university based programs. They have no motivation other than helping you find the best position/place based on your criteria. We are opposite from the private, for-profit recruiting firms. When I talk about loan repayment options, I also mention that when they talk to the 3RNet OM from another state, they can talk about loan repayment options and/or any visa issues they may and that they can get information with these as well,” Randy said.
When I present myself to a clinic, hospital or healthcare system that expresses an interest in working with New Physicians for Wisconsin, I am quick to point out that while I do many things any other recruiter can also do(advertising, career fairs, email blasts, etc.), there are things I can do that [other recruiters] cannot. Like present their opportunity to every family medicine residency in the state. Only I have the privilege of doing that, again being that “neutral third-party” person. 3RNet is the other thing. Only I have the ability to list their available position/s there to be seen by potential candidates.
What is Randy most proud of when he looks back over his career?
“Probably the physicians I’ve successfully placed in real small towns here in Wisconsin. I recruit for anybody that asks for my help; in both rural and urban locations. Critical Access hospitals and huge healthcare systems alike. This policy started long before I was hired. We have doctors here in Madison that see rural patients, so even providers inn urban places support rural patient populations. When I recruit a doctor to a place like Madison, Green Bay, or even Milwaukee, it does bring a smile to my face. But when I can recruit a physician to a really small town where that doctor is maybe 25-30-50% of their entire medical staff, that’s when my smile goes from ear to ear. It has such a huge impact not just for the clinic/hospital, but for the entire community”, Randy said.
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!
As for what the future holds, Randy says he’s keeping his options open, but definitely looks forward to spending more time driving his Corvette to car shows in summer, and playing with his four four-legged children (dogs) all year-round!
We hope the open-end to your next chapter is a great one, Randy! From your entire 3RNet family, thank you for all you’ve done to contribute to our national network over the years. Happy retirement!