3RNET Blog

Thanks for visiting the 3RNET blog!

If you have an idea for a blog post, or are interested in writing one, please contact Kristine Morin, Director of Communications and Marketing, at Morin@3RNET.org.

First, Next, Forever. Beulah, North Dakota

First, Next, Forever. Beulah, North Dakota

This is Dr. Ann Ruffo’s Story

This is Dr. Ann Ruffo’s Story

Ann Ruffo, DO, grew up on a rural dairy farm in Minnesota, where she learned the value of hard work—but also the importance of neighbors and the difference one caring person can make. Her time as a cadet at West Point and moving forward in the Army reinforced these lessons.

As Ann transitioned out of the military and into medicine, she came to realize there were many parallels between military service and service to a rural, underserved patient population. Tea with the Afghan police chief as a lieutenant was not so different than meeting with the family of an ailing patient.

Dr. Ruffo was looking for an opportunity where she could succeed in the same ways she had growing up on the farm and during her time in the military: through teamwork and fostering relationships. Her diverse experience taught her there is no place she’d rather live, work, and raise her family than a rural area.

Ann and her husband have family near Hazen, and after a couple of visits to the area, they knew they’d found home—both personally and professionally.


Stacy Kusler, Workforce Specialist

Stacy Kusler is the workforce specialist at the Center for Rural Health, at the University of North Dakota (UND) School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS). For the rural, urban, underserved, mental health, and Indian Health Services/tribal facilities whom she supports with recruitment and retention strategies, she is a lifeline.

As the North Dakota 3RNET Network Coordinator, Stacy connects health professional job seekers with opportunities across her home state. Stacy knows communities’ exact needs and keeps recruiters posted on updates and referrals. North Dakota can pose a greater challenge when it comes to recruiting, but that does not deter Stacy. She knows 3RNET’s philosophy of finding the right candidate for an opening is vital for the employers with whom she works. On paper, Stacy shares her workforce expertise and best practices with recruiters. In reality, she’s a champion and cheerleader for the important work being done to ensure access to quality healthcare remains in a state where 90% of communities have less than 2,000 residents.

Dr. Ruffo is the second physician Coal Country Community Health Centers has hired through 3RNET.

Jocelyn Bertsch, In-House Provider Recruiter

Coal Country Community Health Center (CCCHC) is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in Beulah, North Dakota with additional locations in the communities of Center, Hazen, and Killdeer. CCCHC has been nationally recognized for its innovative relationship with the local Critical Access Hospital, Sakakawea Medical Center, located in Hazen.

Jocelyn has recruited in Beulah for six years—and in her role she drives the recruitment efforts for all three human resources (HR) departments: the long-term care facility, the hospital, and CCCHC. When she first came on board she supported newly hired HR employees in creating up-to-date systems and processes. As they became more comfortable, she transitioned into her more full-time recruitment role.

When Dr. Ruffo registered on 3RNET, she reached out using a website feature which allowed her to tell CCCHC she was interested in their posted position. From there, Stacy immediately reached out to Jocelyn to let her know someone was interested.

Jocelyn knew she had to act fast and contacted Dr. Ruffo the very next day. They had a site visit the next month. Being the savvy recruiter she is, Jocelyn connected Dr. Ruffo’s husband with a local community member who is passionate about the community and keeping the health care system alive and well. Dr. Ruffo and her husband were able to bring two of their children with and leave their third child with family in a nearby community—another key selling point for both sides.

During a second site visit, Dr. Ruffo was able to sit in-clinic. Jocelyn said, “You would never know she didn’t already work there. She could have easily been mistaken for a current provider.”

Ann fit right in with her colleagues and, despite a snowstorm (in true North Dakota fashion) derailing a few plans during this visit, she and her husband seemed to fit right into the community, too.

View Dr. Ruffo's story here.