JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO -- FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- 5th Medical Recruiting Battalion (MRB) leaders believe that good, ol' Army-issue discipline trumps the bells and whistles of today's high-tech recruiting tools when it comes to achieving mission success.
It's a mindset Lt. Col. Michael Peacock and Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Castellano, 5th MRB's command team, made central to the battalion's 2017 Annual Training Conference (ATC) held here, Dec. 12 -- 14.
The battalion hosts the peer-led training conference to introduce new recruiting tactics, techniques and procedures and to re-emphasize others, bringing together officers and NCOs from the battalion's three companies, based in Kansas City, Mo., San Antonio and Houston, with the medical and chaplain recruiters who man 15 centers in 10 states.
This year's conference included sessions on effectively using cyber recruiting tools and social media platforms to reach applicants, managing a school recruiting program, and various topics regarding the nuts and bolts of medical recruiting. It also featured Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Schwab, of the Medical Recruiting Brigade, who was the guest speaker during the ATC dining-out and who closed out the conference by updating the group on the current state of recruiting.
At its core, this year's ATC was also a sort of call to arms as Peacock continually stressed to the approximately 87 recruiters in attendance the need to take a disciplined approach to all phases of recruiting, beginning with in-process reviews (IPR), planning, and prospecting.
"That's the biggest thing I want them to walk away with is thinking, 'When I approach work … I need to think ahead," Peacock explained. "I need to be focused on what I am doing; I need to be disciplined in ensuring I am putting out a full-fledged effort every day; and I am ensuring that everything I do is approached in a professional, disciplined manner."
He said responsibility rests with battalion leadership to clearly communicate standards during weekly IPRs with station commanders and officers in charge (OICs) and throughout the recruiting cycle. Peacock and Castellano used small-group break-out sessions with station leaders to spell out expectations and clarify the battalion's line of attack for fiscal year 2018.
"Our mission hasn't necessarily increased drastically," said Peacock, citing a combined total of 262 active duty and Reserve medical physicians, nurses and chaplain recruits needed for fiscal year 2018, which is only a total increase of 21 recruits from fiscal year 2017's mission. "It's how we are approaching (the mission) that has changed this year.
"Instead of providing a year-long mission that stations can spread out through the year and focus on as they choose, we are with them setting stricter milestones by quarter with phase lines that we will then hold them accountable for by AOC (area of concentration) completion. That's the bigger difference this year, more how we're approaching (the mission) as supposed to what we're approaching."
For new team members like Capt. Virginia Bailey, a first-year OIC of the New Orleans Medical Recruiting Station (MRS), the battalion's hands-on management is welcomed.
"We have a lot on our plates. Everybody knows that … but prioritizing what needs to be done each day is helpful," Bailey said. She added that it's a plus to draw from the experiences of more seasoned recruiters, so she'll be "taking tidbits from each station on what things work and what things don't."
Like other professional conferences, the ATC provides an opportunity to connect and strengthen relationships for peers who may have shared emails and phone calls throughout the year but had never met, said Peacock.
Staff Sgt. Cullen Burns, a new station commander of Omaha MRS, agreed, adding, "Sitting down face-to-face, sharing experiences and an understanding of medical recruiting from the ground-level is great to kind of get the meats and potatoes behind everything we do."
That is no accident, according to Peacock, who considers the networking and peer development as much a value as the training provided.
"You walk out of here with a network of recruiters and station commanders that you can turn to when you have a 'crazy' question," said Peacock, during his opening remarks to the group. "Creating a network is key in everything you do."