Skip to main content


Grant aids University of South Dakota Rural Health Service and Education

Feb 21, 2016 04:50PM ● By MED Magazine

The University of South Dakota’s Division of Health Sciences will use a $500,000 federal 

 grant from USDA to strengthen health care services in 24 rural South Dakota communities while giving USD medical school and nursing students working in rural locations firsthand experience in telemedicine and improved communications with instructors and scientists at university campuses.


USD’s project, called “A Bridge to the Frontier: Preparing South Dakota’s Future Doctors and Nurses for Rural Practice”, creates new telemedicine connections linking health education facilities at the University of Dakota’s campuses in Vermillion, Pierre, Rapid City and Sioux Falls with 28 rural hospitals and clinics in 24 communities throughout South Dakota.  Students in the university’s school of medicine and nursing program will benefit by the telemedicine and communications network to be better prepared to practice healthcare in South Dakota’s rural areas.


The three-year project will enhance learning for an estimated 675 USD students, including 100 nursing and 125 medical students each year.


Rural hospitals and clinics will benefit by connecting to USD healthcare facilities and professionals, and also by being able to provide improved educational opportunities for USD nursing and medical school students studying in rural locations.


Network hubs for the project include USD and USD Sanford School of Medicine facilities in Vermillion, Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Pierre.


The following hospitals and clinics will be recipients or end users of telemedicine connections and information as outlined in the grant: Avera Medical Group Milbank; Spearfish Regional Hospital; Avera Dells Area Hospital (Dell Rapids); Mobridge Regional Hospitals and Clinic; Winner Regional Healthcare Center and Winner Wegional Clinic; Coteau Des Prairie Hospital and Clinic (Sisseton); Sanford Chamberlain Medical Center; Community Memorial Hospital (Redfield); Avera Medical Group (Flandreau); Custer Regional Medical Clinic; Sanford Webster Medical Center; Avera St. Benedict Health Center (Parkston); Avera Hand County Memorial Hospital (Miller); Avera Gregory Hospital; Freeman Regional Health Services; Platte Health Center Avera; St. Michaels’ Hospital Avera (Tyndall); Avera Weskota Memorial Hospital (Wessington Springs); Landmann-Jungman Clinic (Scotland); Viborg Medical Clinic (Pioneer Health Services); Philip Health Services; Faulkton Area Medical Center; Douglas County Memorial Hospital (Armour); Pioneer Memorial Hospital (Viborg).


According to Dr. Mary Nettleman, Vice President for Health Affairs at USD, and dean of the USD Sanford School of Medicine, “This telehealth initiative is critically important to advancing our curriculum for medical students and nursing students. We feel strongly that physicians and nurses of the future must be able to leverage technology to its fullest in order to maximize the health of our rural populations.”


USD’s award was among the largest grants provided by USDA as part of the agency’s Rural Utilities Service Distance Learning and Telemedicine program. To assist rural healthcare across the nation USDA awarded approximately $23.4 million in grants, including to 75 projects in 31 states.  The grant to USD was the second largest of all the grants awarded.