Promote Rural Health Experiences for Students

Developing a sustainable health care workforce in South Dakota requires a partnership involving government, industry, education and private partners. A critical component of this partnership is promoting and offering more rural experiences to health care students.

Purpose of the Promote Rural Health Experiences for Students program: Provide and promote quality rural health experiences to students.


  1. Increase the number of quality rural health experiences for students enrolled in primary care post-sedondary educational programs.
  2. Have the Department of Health establish a clearinghouse for rural health experiences for primary care post-secondary educational programs. 

Rural Experiences for Health Professions Students (REHPS)
With the majority of the state designated as a Primary Care Health Professional Shortage Area and/or Medically Underserved Area/Population, South Dakota faces current and emerging challenges related to both the supply and demand for health care professionals. In response, the Yankton Rural Area Health Education Center is sponsoring a program, Rural Experiences for Health Professions Students (REHPS) that will give first and second year medical, physician assistant, pharmacy and certified nurse practitioner students a four week experience in a rural setting. The goal of the REHPS program is to increase the number of medical professionals who practice in rural and frontier communities in South Dakota.

Prairie Futures
Rural counties in South Dakota face a number of challenges, including an aging population, health care work force shortages and economic development issues. The Prairie Futures initiative harnesses the energy of three key partners to provide training and opportunity for personal growth and success for individuals, businesses and health care recipients in central South Dakota. The mission of Prairie Futures is to promote rural economic development through supporting non-traditional students living in rural areas as they complete post-secondary degrees.

Frontier and Rural Medicine (FARM) Program

The FARM Program, The University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine’s rural track medical student program, is a unique opportunity for a select group of third year medical students to obtain nine months of their clinical training in rural communities. The ultimate goal of the program is to increase the number of primary physicians who practice in rural South Dakota.

If your organization has a rural experience program for health professions students that you would like to share, please contact the Department of Health at