YANKTON, S.D. – For the fifth consecutive year, Chamberlain is welcoming health professions students for a four-week rural health experience. Kelsey Westad, University of South Dakota medical student from Fairbault, Minnesota, and South Dakota State University medical laboratory science student Emily Spates from Mitchell, South Dakota, will follow providers at Sanford Chamberlain Medical Center.
Chamberlain joins 14 other South Dakota communities selected to participate in Rural Experiences for Health Professions Students (REHPS). REHPS communities must have populations under 14,000 people and house a critical access hospital. The program is designed to bring health professions graduates to rural South Dakota for rewarding careers.
In its ninth year, REHPS will bring 30 students to 15 South Dakota communities. Each community hosts two students from different areas of health care who were selected through a competitive process. The REHPS program began in 2011, when three communities welcomed six students. Students are inspired by the experience, due in large part to the host communities, and their professionals’ mentoring skills.
SDSU pharmacy student Baily Lear studied in Chamberlain last year with USD clinical psychology student Chelsey VanNess.
“Here, the staff takes time for us,” Lear said. “They aren’t too busy with their work, and they make an effort to give us a great experience. The personal touch here in Chamberlain changes everything for me as a student. I truly believe this is the ideal learning environment.”
The 2019 REHPS communities are: Bowdle, Britton, Burke, Chamberlain, Hot Springs, Huron, Martin, Miller, Parkston, Platte, Redfield, Scotland, Sisseton, Sturgis, and Winner. The REHPS program connects interprofessional groups of students enrolled in clinical psychology, family nurse practitioner, medical, medical laboratory science, occupational therapy, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant, and social work programs at SDSU and USD.
Cheri Buffington, REHPS program director, explained what they look for when matching students with communities.
“When selecting a site to host REHPS students, we look for a facility interested in the education of health professions students along with an understanding of the importance of giving them a firsthand look at how rewarding a career in rural medicine can be,” Buffington said. “We are also looking for vibrant and active communities who will welcome students and hopefully entice them to return when they are finished with their education. I would encourage families willing to host students for dinner or a family outing to contact the facility to make those arrangements.”
REHPS receives funding from the Office of Rural Health/South Dakota Department of Health and is managed by the Yankton Rural Area Health Education Center.