This summer, 18 university students will learn first-hand about providing healthcare in rural South Dakota. This is thanks to nine communities’ collaborations with a grant program designed to raise awareness for the healthcare services needs in underserved areas of the state.
Miller is one of the communities selected as “Beset Practice Model” for the Rural Experiences for Health Profession Students Program (REHPS) in 2013. The program connects interprofessional students enrolled in physician, physician assistant, doctor of nursing practice and pharmacy programs through the University of South Dakota and South Dakota State University with medical professionals in the nine rural South Dakota communities. The program has expanded from three sites in 2011, to six in 2012, and to nine in 2013.
The students selected for the Miller site are Rebecka Bogue, physician student from Beresford, and Claire Carson, pharmacy student from Custer.
REHPS’ Summer Experience has seen significant growth; in just its third year, both students and communities are recognizing the opportunities gained by the experience. Exposure to a rural setting early on brings new professionals back to these areas after graduation. In addition to the enriching career experience, students will also be involved in a community project designed to provide interaction with people outside of a clinical setting. The students will call their new communities home for four weeks.
South Dakota is experiencing a shortage of healthcare workers. The number of high school graduates in the state decreases as the number of retirees is increasing. Between now and 2018, 10 percent of the new jobs in South Dakota will be healthcare related. Fifty-nine of South Dakota’s 66 counties are designated as medically underserved.