Friday, August 01, 2014

South Dakota trying to recruit doctors to rural areas; med school begins rural residency program

South Dakota is trying to find ways to recruit doctors to rural areas with programs aimed at sparking interest among students in middle school, high school and college into pursuing physician jobs in the state's medically under-served areas.

One problem facing hospital recruiters in states like South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and North Dakota is the extreme winters, Dr. Tad Jacobs, chief medical officer for Avera Medical Group, told Joise Flatgard of the Capital Journal in Pierre. But those fears can be offset by a high quality of life, said Angie Bollweg, director of a Sanford Health clinic in the state capital of 14,000 people. She told Flatgard, “We do try to emphasize the different opportunities available in Pierre, everything that Pierre/Ft. Pierre has to offer. There are great schools, churches, great healthcare and an array of activities and groups to be involved in. The hunting, fishing, recreational activities and sunsets are a plus. It’s a wonderful place to raise a family and work and grow here, too.”

Sanford Health has been working to attract youth to the medical field through the Program for the Midwest Initiative in Science Exploration, Flatgard writes. Also known as PROMISE, it "was created to inspire middle school, high school and college students, along with anyone else interested to learn about science and research. In a classroom, educators and scientists are able to lay the groundwork for educating South Dakota physicians." (Read more)

While smaller towns are trying to interest local youth in entering the medical field, the University of South Dakota has created the Frontier And Rural Medicine program, which "puts third-year medical students into hospital systems in communities with less than 10,000 residents," Katherine Grandstrand reports for the Aberdeen News. FARM Director Dr. Susan Anderson told Grandstrand, "Hopefully, what's going to happen long-term is that the students are going to consider, when they're done with all their training, coming back to one of those communities or a similar-sized community in rural South Dakota to practice. Students tend to practice in or close to where they trained." The first class to participate in the program consists of six students working at five rural hospitals. (Read more)

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