Rural Track Program
Frontier And Rural Medicine (FARM), 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.
The Sanford School of Medicine has long been recognized for our excellence in rural medical education. In 2012, U.S. News and World Report ranked the school 7th among U.S. medical schools in rural medicine. Four-week experiences in rural medicine during the 2nd and 4th years of medical school have been required curricular elements for many years. Building upon this tradition, and with the support of the South Dakota Board of Regents and Governor Dennis Daugaard, the South Dakota State Legislature approved an expansion in the school’s class size in the 2012 legislative session for the purpose of establishing the rural track program. Up to six students per year (1-2 per site) will be selected to participate in the program. The program will be established by July 2014.
FARM students will complete 12 weeks of prerequisites prior to moving to their clinical sites, including clinical clerkship experiences, hospital rotations in the intensive care of adults and children and advanced training in the Parry Center for Clinical Skills and Simulation. At their rural clinical sites, students will participate in the full spectrum of the practice of rural medicine as they provide supervised care and follow patients and their families over time in clinic, hospital, and extended care settings.
Training in rural communities offers medical students the opportunity to experience increased hands-on-education, gain an appreciation of the benefits of continuity in patient care, and develop strong bonds with instructors who mentor students on the professional and personal aspects of being a physician. Students will gain an understanding of the rewards and challenges of rural practice while living, learning and becoming engaged in their communities. They will not only be assisting in the provision of healthcare services but in community health education and will complete a community project as a part of the curriculum with the support of the South Dakota Area Health Education Center.
Learning will be enhanced through specialty clinics on-site, academic faculty visits, on-line cases, telemedicine, and videoconferencing. FARM instructors are provided faculty development opportunities to enhance their teaching skills. Community ambassadors will assist in introducing students to and engaging students in their communities. Scholarships will be available for participating students.
National studies have demonstrated that students trained in rural track programs, like FARM, perform at least as well as traditionally trained students on standardized and clinical skills testing.
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