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Tyler Hemmingson of Rapid City found the joint South Dakota State University and University of South Dakota online Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) program expanded his opportunities in all the right directions.

Currently working with the Regional Value Improvement System at Regional Health, he collaborates with teams to establish process improvement initiative in the health-care system, putting the skills developed through his M.P.H. coursework to good use on a daily basis.

"The program has already greatly impacted my career," said Hemmingson, who earned a bachelor's degree in biology from South Dakota State University in 2011. "It has helped me develop new skillsets, and the support of program leadership has helped me focus on my public health interests."

Tyler Hemmingson  USD
Tyler Hemmingson

One of the programs Hemmingson and other M.P.H. students had the opportunity to participate in was the USD School of Sanford Medicine's frontier and rural medicine program as a part of a research study. Working with rural residents and hearing their stories while gathering data at the Vermillion frontier and rural medicine show provided Hemmingson with the context to the patient-centered aspect of public health. From that experience, Hemmingson presented a poster at the South Dakota Public Health Association Conference October 2015.

"The study with the interprofessional team of students and faculty enhanced my understanding of interdisciplinary collaboration. Analyzing the study results furthered my knowledge of applied biostatistics and population health indices, and the subsequent conference presentations have allowed for strengthened public speaking skills and an expanded professional network," Hemmingson said. "I am thankful that the M.P.H. program has provided such opportunities to students."

The online aspect of the course has furthered Hemmingson's ability to pursue opportunities and collaborations surrounding his current work and involvements.

"I have been employed full-time since beginning the program, and the online platform provides great flexibility for those like myself who are already in careers," Hemmingson continued. "It may be especially advantageous to those who regularly collaborate with professionals from other disciplines. I would recommend an M.P.H degree to anyone in the health-care system."

Pursuing work as a research associate with the Center for Health Outcomes and Prevention Research at Sanford Research, a coordinator with the Research Initiatives for Student Enhancement - Undergraduate Program and Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disorders programs at the USD Sanford School of Medicine's Center for Disabilities, led Hemmingson to the M.P.H. program, allowing him to further expand upon his learning through each experience.

"My favorite part has been the number of learning opportunities and the accompanying support that program leadership has provided," Hemmingson said.