Erin Rasmussen, physician student from Vermillion, will call Platte home for four weeks this summer as she learns first-hand about providing healthcare in rural South Dakota.
Rasmussen was selected in a competitive process to participate in the Rural Experiences for Health Professions Students (REHPS) in 2013. She is joined in Platte by Shelby Nielsen, pharmacy student from Castlewood. Platte was selected as a “Best Practice Model” site for REHPS this year.
The REHPS program connects interprofessional students enrolled in physician, physician assistant, doctor of nursing practice, and pharmacy programs through the University of South Dakota (USD) and South Dakota State University (SDSU) with medical professionals practicing in nine rural South Dakota communities. The program has expanded from three sites in 2011, to six in 2012 and to nine in 2013. Platte is joined by Custer, Miller, Parkston, Redfield, Sisseton, Wagner, Wessington Springs and Winner. Each community will welcome two students.
In addition to the enriching career experience, students also will be involved in a community project designed to provide interaction with people outside of a clinical setting.
Kassy Youmans, REHPS program manager, said the student summer experience provides a framework for community leaders to follow in efforts to successfully recruit and retain healthcare professionals.
“Rewarding, positive experiences early on in student training are influential in deciding future career paths. This opportunity exposes students to the exceptional healthcare services available in rural South Dakota along with the unique features of each community,” Youmans said.
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.