posted on February 27, 2015 17:05
This year marks 20 years since 3RNet began helping connect health care professionals with jobs in rural and underserved areas across the country. To celebrate this achievement, we’re sharing related blog posts throughout the year. Last month we featured our current executive director, Mike Shimmens and what 20 years of 3RNet means to him, and our organization. You can read that blog post here.
We would be remiss if, in celebrating our 20-year history, we didn’t take some time and showcase 3RNet’s founder, Fred Moskol. Although there are many people who deserve much credit in forming 3RNet, Fred is arguably the biggest reason there is a 3RNet today.
Fred’s education and work experience prior to the idea of 3RNet is much richer than can be explained in this blog post, but in short, Fred served as the Director of Wisconsin’s State Office of Rural Health, where he really came face-to-face with workforce issues in rural areas (Fred also served in the Peace Corps where he learned a lot about public health and was a pharmacist by training) beyond what he already knew about health care.
Fred realized quickly that local people knew their communities best, and that could be used to strengthen recruitment and retention efforts; he knew Wisconsin communities and had relationships with the communities he worked with. He also felt strongly that states who were actively recruiting should gather together and share ideas.
Most important, Fred was a visionary. As he was forming the idea of a national network to support recruitment and retention efforts in rural communities, he was also figuring out how technology could play a role. Ironically, technology stood in his way, but he trudged through to make 3RNet, an online job-board, a reality.
“This was really before the Internet was available to the majority of the public. I was trying to get others to be much more in tune with creating community profiles, community development,” Fred said. “I had to carry around a modem, computer, and projector and try to do presentations. I had a browser but most people did not have the Internet. I had to login through the University and it would disconnect all the time.”
We think hauling around a computer (that had a 20 megabyte hard drive) is cause enough to celebrate Fred, but this story doesn’t end there:
“I was never full-time with 3RNet. When I retired in 2001, I was still running the 3RNet out of the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health. I worked as a pharmacist part-time. I was boot-strapping it basically!” Fred said.
When asked what really stands out when he thinks back on his time of working to get 3RNet up-and-running, Fred shared, “I remember the first time we actually exhibited at an NRHA meeting. We put together a pretty nice exhibit; that was a watershed moment for me. That was a lot of fun to be able to exhibit as 3RNet. People who had heard about this project hadn’t seen a name. The name was coined only about two months prior to the event.”
Another fond memory for Fred is when people started to embrace the technology.
“The fact that people began to appreciate how important technology was a key to making this a successful program. When I started, very, very few organizations had email. When I left, everyone did! The incorporation of technology—even though it was a struggle—felt really good,” Fred said.
Fred is a perfect example of why our history as an organization is so important to 3RNet, and we’re so glad he gave so much to create our nation-wide network! (In fact, we’re so grateful to Fred we’ve named an award after him that we give out at our annual conference. You can read more about that here.)
Thanks for everything, Fred!