Male in White Lab Coat Standing by Corn Field.

FARM Program

Frontier And Rural Medicine (FARM), our rural track medical student program, is a unique opportunity for a select group of Pillar 2 students to receive nine months of their clinical training in rural communities.

Frontier And Rural Medicine (FARM), our rural track medical student program, is a unique opportunity for a select group of Pillar 2 students to receive nine months of their clinical training in rural communities.

The Sanford School of Medicine has long been recognized for our excellence in rural medical education: we are consistently ranked in U.S. News & World Report's top 10 medical schools for rural medicine. Our goal is to increase the number of primary care physicians who practice in rural South Dakota.

The FARM program affords students the opportunity for students to see the benefits of a rural lifestyle and experience the rewards and challenges of practicing in a rural community.

Clinical Experience 

At their rural clinical sites, students participate in the full spectrum of rural medicine as they provide supervised care, following 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 and gain an appreciation of the benefits of continuity in patient care. Students also develop strong bonds with instructors and other members of the healthcare team, who mentor them on the professional and personal aspects of being a physician and healthcare team member.

On-site specialty clinics, academic faculty visits, online cases, telemedicine and weekly didactic sessions are all used to help students learn.

Community Engagement

While living and learning in their FARM community, students become engaged with their communities outside of the healthcare setting as well. In addition to providing health care services, students complete a community project that addresses a need within their community. Projects can include health education for youth and adults, community service projects, helping to establish ongoing community support projects and many others. Students receive support from partners such as the South Dakota Area Health Education Center, South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care and the South Dakota Academy of Family Physicians

Up to 11 students (one to two per site) are selected each year to participate in the program. Students may apply to the program in the fall of their first academic year. FARM program leaders and community representatives give a presentation to first-year students explaining the program, after which students may apply. Applicants are interviewed by members of the FARM program selection committee and notified of the committee's decisions. Students are subsequently matched with communities on the basis of student preferences and community availability with the goal to honor one of their top choices.

The seven communities that participate in the program include:

  • Milbank
  • Mobridge
  • Parkston
  • Pierre
  • Spearfish
  • Vermillion
  • Winner

The sites were selected through a competitive process. Thanks to our longstanding rural family medicine preceptorships and clerkships, we have many excellent training sites to choose from and selected the areas best suited for the FARM program.

This scholarship endowment was established by Dr. Edward A. Kaufman, B.S.M.D. ’70, to honor his parents, Drs. Edward John and Dorothybelle McCree Kaufman. The endowment will provide scholarships each year to medical students admitted to the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine’s Frontier and Rural Medicine (FARM) program.
Maria Koenen posing with an award.

Community Project and Award

Maria Koenen (CO2023), Parkston FARM student, was the recipient of the Outstanding Community Project Award for 2022. Her project titled, "Comprehensive Community Concussion Education and Prevention in the Rural Setting" was selected by a group of faculty evaluators. In addition to providing training to local area athletes and coaching staff, Maria spent countless hours on the sidelines of local sporting events using her athletic training education to ensure athlete safety.  Maria received a plaque and a cash award for her project sponsored by the South Dakota Academy of Family Physicians.

Faculty & Staff

Get to know the faculty and staff in the FARM Program. Our faculty are experts in their fields, contributing research and scholarship in health care and leadership.
Faculty Default

Susan Anderson

Chair, Family Medicine/Director, ICM
Bio Image for Faculty Member Janet Fulk

Janet Fulk

Assistant Director, FARM
Bio Image for Faculty Member Lacy Koth

Lacy Koth

FARM Program Assistant I

farm success story

Success story Keely Kolikowski smiling.
This program was not only a unique and memorable experience but a defining one. It was through [FARM] that I was exposed to the top-notch medicine that frontier and rural providers practice every single day. I gained the utmost respect for these “frontiersmen/women” as they really are the last vestige of all-encompassing medical care. It was here that I saw a singular physician run a code, deliver a baby, take care of inpatients, triage a trauma, all while having a full clinic. Despite “doing it all” there was never any sacrifice of top-tier care, grace, compassion, and expertise.

Keely Krolikowski

FARM Program '17
Winner, SD

Take the Next Step