How I hire with Melissa Putikka

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Do you need a change? Do you need a new challenge? Tri-County Health Care is looking for gifted professionals! In the coming months, we’ll be moving into a new building, and it would be great to fill that building with people passionate about healthcare. In the meantime, I’ll share some fine details about how I hire.

Melissa’s take

We’re finally emerging from pandemic-era conditions, and I’m super excited about things returning to normal. Pandemic or not, healthcare as an industry needs a constant flux of new ideas, new life-saving techniques, and new talent. We’re hiring at Tri-County Health Care, and I would like this opportunity to speak directly to my pool of potential candidates.

I’m writing this now with a slew of resumes in my inbox. I’ve pulled a couple off the top and have been surprisingly impressed and tepidly disappointed. There are highly qualified individuals with cover letters rife with spelling errors and underqualified candidates with resumes crafted with near-laser precision. The psychology of resume writing is fascinating to me and often a reflection of the person behind the text processor. It’s a window into your personality.

We must remember that this is a hospital and high attention to detail isn’t just important; it’s vital to our success. People may say I should let up a bit and forgive the occasional resume faux pas, but I can’t. The nature of our work always comes rushing back to me. I suddenly remember this person is going to be caring for others. If proofreading is too much for them, then surely they can’t handle an operating room or the back of an ambulance.

Hiring with a modern touch

I take pride in our hiring practices and how I hire is unique. I know what it’s like to be filtered through the machine and have my years of hard-earned education and experience broken down into binary code in a piece of software. This is why we do things a little differently. It starts with a resume, but it ends with the person. We never forget the person. That’s why if chosen for an interview, you’re not subjected to a stuffy corporate board picking apart your life with invasive questions. We want to get to know you; we want to find who the person is behind the qualifications and shiny pieces of paper.

A person can be highly qualified for a job but not a good culture fit. Ultimately, when I’m in an interview, I want to engage with the person in a non-intimidating way, I pretend this person might be occupying an office just down the hall from me. Do I want that? Will they be someone I want to interact with every single day? The interview is the moment for me to answer those questions.

And please, just as a general piece of advice, don’t complain about current or past employers. We don’t like these types of conversations because it tells us about their values and characteristics. Furthermore, It concerns me they will add a negative touch to the organization versus a positive one and likely won’t fit with our culture of ownership. How I hire is very culture-centric, and I believe every organization should employ similar tactics.

Melissa Putikka: How I hire

Melissa Putikka

How I hire and how I grow

Tri-County Health Care is a special place. You’re not a cog in the machine; you’re a unique driver of innovation within your role. We are all about growth! We want to grow and to do that, we need you to succeed. Employees must feel like they are refining their knowledge while contributing to an overwhelming force of good. Upon hiring, managers will find ways to add value to your already vast repertoire of skills.

Right now, Tri-County Health Care is trying to fill crucial medical positions in nursing and emergency medical services. If you’re interested in a role at Tri-County health, visit our careers page.

2022 Summer interns: Part one

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The 2022 summer interns recently made their way through the halls of Tri-County Health Care. They learned valuable lessons about the medical field and the numerous departments that work in tandem to create a place for healing. We want to introduce the first set of 2022 summer interns. Please take this opportunity to get to know their faces. You might see them at Tri-County Health Care in the years to come!

Cally Robertson

2022 summer interns

Cally Robertson

Brainerd High School

Plans after graduation?

Go to college, go Pre-Med.

Why did you apply for the internship?

I knew I wanted to enter the medical field, but I wasn’t sure where. This internship intrigued me because it would help me decide.

What do you like to do for fun?

Read, swim, run, play soccer, and nordic ski.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

I would change the world so that everyone has equal opportunities.

What is your favorite book, movie, and food?

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Wonder Woman, and avocado toast.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? Why?

The ability to fly. I think it would be so cool to have no limits above you.

Tell me about one big life goal you have.

I want to become a surgeon.

What were some of your favorite experiences during your internship?

I loved watching surgery and hanging out with other people my age interested in the medical field. I also loved learning about the lab and finding something new that interested me.

Would you recommend others apply for the internship at Tri-County Health Care?

Yes! This internship helped solidify my decision to go into the medical field as my profession. It also helped to narrow down where in the medical field I would like to choose to pursue.


Ava Eckhoff

2022 Summer Interns

Ava Eckhoff

Henning Public School

Plans after graduation?

I plan on getting my Bachelors in Nursing. I do not have a college in mind yet.

Why did you apply for the internship?

I found this opportunity through my school; my sister has also gone through this program.

What do you like to do for fun?

I enjoy hanging out with my friends, playing basketball, and hanging out by the lake.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

If I could change one thing about the world, I would have people on Earth treating it better.

What is your favorite book, movie, and food?

My favorite book is Where the crawdads sing; my favorite movie is How to lose a guy in 10 days; my favorite food is chicken nuggets.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? Why?

If I could have one superpower, I would choose the ability to fly because I could go anywhere I wanted.

Tell me about one big life goal you have.

One big goal that I have is graduating from college.

What were some of your favorite experiences during your internship?

My favorite experiences would have to be experiencing surgery, getting to follow different doctors around, and meeting lots of new people.

Would you recommend others apply for the internship at Tri-County Health Care?

Yes! 100%, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my future, but this opportunity has shown me a few careers that I can see myself doing in the future.

Choosing the right provider

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Happy new year, everyone! I’m excited to start the new year with fresh eyes and exciting new goals. One goal, in particular, is to continue living the mission of Tri-County Health Care and sharing that mission with potential providers. Choosing the right provider is tough, so I would like to start the new year with an added layer of transparency. I hope this blog will help me do that. In the world of recruitment and hiring, I see a lot of misaligned expectations and miscommunication. I want to clear all of that up and share my insider perspective about hiring potential providers with you. I hope that students will find this blog and take this information on their career adventure.

Students to professionals

Provider Recruitment is very different from typical recruitment as it is a longer, more complicated process. Often times, recruitment occurs over many years. I start tracking students and go to events to meet all sorts of people studying in the medical field. Each student that comes through our building is a potential hire. I start talking to them when they are still in undergraduate school. This is a planting the seed moment because I get the opportunity to introduce my organization while they are still finding their place in the world. Sometimes people need a little guidance or even a little push in the right direction. I want Tri-County to be a student-friendly place that can harness all natural and earned talents.

Lifelong learningChoosing the right provider is about choosing the right student.

My background is in education and what I admire most about providers is their appreciation for education. They spend so much of their lives pursuing knowledge and are lifelong learners. I observe this every day when I interact with our staff. Hearing them talk about this illness or that fracture, or even just talking about the human body in general, is always so fascinating. What I’m really getting at is, if I think someone is a good fit for Tri-County, they need to have an intense drive to acquire knowledge. Recruiters should look for perpetual learners that absorb every shred of knowledge they can. I want the people who stay up until 2 a.m. watching the Discovery Channel or someone who would rather play a trivia game instead of shooting pool during a night out.

Expectations and the changing medical landscape

I don’t want to alarm anyone reading this, but the medical community is in a state of disarray at the moment. I’m not just talking about the pandemic. There is a lack of trained medical staff in our country. Then, COVID hit and every provider was stretched professionally and personally. We can’t afford to lose providers. When I’m out on a recruiting mission, I see the value in each potential hire. I often find myself saying, “This is someone who could save lives; they just need the appropriate facility and tools.” Students should be aware of their value moving forward in their career but also know with high value comes great responsibility and often high expectations from employers. In many ways, choosing the right provider is about selecting the right student. Remember that.

What am I really looking for?

I think about that a lot so I sat down to itemize the things I’m looking for in a potential provider. I think this makes up a good candidate, and I actively look for these things when I’m recruiting.


  • A good fit is someone who wants to live in a rural area. Any provider we bring to interview must know upfront that we are in a rural area. Lots of trees and cows, if that’s not for you, we understand. If a provider is looking for a certain lifestyle that doesn’t fit what we can offer, it wouldn’t be a good mix.


  • A solid self-starter is always an attention grabber. I look for physicians who can handle working independently with a certain level of autonomy. To a certain extent, they will be operating their own practice; I want them to feel a sense of ownership and even crave it. This fosters a positive work setting for them instead of an overly corporate “do what you are told” environment. This leads to everyone being a lot happier, physicians and patients alike.


  • I’m always on the lookout for someone compassionate and caring. I need to detect a genuine desire to help others. A person can have all of the fancy degrees, be at the top of their class, and still have terrible bedside manner with no desire to care for the patient. The difference is readily notable; you can’t hide it.


  • Knowledge is a big part of choosing the right provider! You need to be smart or at least display the ability to gain knowledge semi-quickly. Like I discussed above, being a lifelong learner is pivotal in this role. You won’t make it in any hospital or clinic if you don’t keep your mind sharp. Learning doesn’t stop after you take the cap and gown off.


  • A clean record is always good. Over the years, I’ve trained myself to look for red flags. I work with a dedicated team that assists me in noticing if a potential candidate is running from something, quits jobs abruptly without notice, or likes to overly embellish their expertise. Be honest with yourself and me.

Susan Marco

The end goal

My hope is someone will read this blog, maybe one of those students eyeing graduation, wondering where life will take them next. I hope you will consider Tri-County Health Care. I promise I’m not that hard to please. Choosing the right provider is important. I just want Tri-County to align with people who genuinely care about helping others.

Susan Marco-Provider Recruitment Specialist

As a former professor, Susan is a purveyor of lifelong learning. Five years ago, she joined the Tri-County family and has since recruited some of the finest physicians and advanced practice providers around. She is an avid reader, published author and enjoys spending time with family when she isn’t exploring TikTok.