For George Randall, the path to Wichita started with flying.
In 1977, Randall, an ear, nose and throat doctor – known as an ENT – flew to Wichita to meet with Dr. Norton Francis about starting a practice.
“I was a brand-new pilot and didn’t feel real comfortable with my navigation skills, but I knew I could fly straight up I-35 and get to Wichita without losing it,” Randall said.
The result of the meeting was Mid-Kansas Ear, Nose & Throat Associates, 310 S. Hillside.
Now, after practicing for more than 35 years, Randall plans to retire at the end of this month.
The practice now sees about 10,000 patients a year and performs about 3,500 surgeries a year.
“I was going to be the youngest guy here by about 20 years, and I thought it was a great opportunity in what was then an underserved area,” Randall said.
In 1969, Randall graduated from medical school at Washington University in St. Louis. In the early 1970s, he was an intern and resident in St. Louis. Randall then spent two years in the military at Reynolds Army Hospital at Fort Sill, Okla., where he learned to fly. Over the years, Randall would fly to towns in western Kansas that needed an ENT.
Now other physicians in the practice continue to serve patients in surrounding communities through clinics.
Randall never wanted to practice by himself.
“It was just a matter of selecting the right person to be your partner. It’s kind of like a marriage in a way. You have to get along, be on the same page as far as philosophy, and you want good, competent physicians,” Randall said.
“As time went on, as we got busier and busier, we felt we had a big enough practice to start (younger doctors) and help as they get established, which usually takes a year or two.”
One of those doctors is Eric Bunting, another physician at Mid-Kansas ENT.
“Dr. Randall helped me get a solid start in Wichita,” Bunting said. “He’s been a great mentor, and there’s been a lot to learn from him. He will be missed, but the practice he’s laid the foundation for is solid.”
In his retirement, Randall said, he will not miss being on call. He estimates that over the years, he’s had more than 150,000 patient encounters.
“Calls in the middle of the night, as you get older, it’s hard to recoup,” he said.
Sandra Spencer, a licensed practical nurse who has been at the practice nearly as long as Randall has, said it won’t be the same at Mid-Kansas without him.
“We will be sad to see him go, but he said he will still come in for lunch on occasion,” Spencer said.
Randall doesn’t plan to take up flying again during retirement. Instead, he plans to develop his new passion: piano.
He started lessons three years ago.
“I’ll have more time to practice, and hopefully, I’ll advance a little faster,” Randall said.