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From the Program Director

DesiRae MuirheadWelcome to the pathology residency program at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine.

We offer a four-year ACGME-accredited program in anatomic and clinical pathology. The pathology resident training program gives residents a broad, comprehensive pathology background and opportunities to gain experience in all sub-specialties. The concepts of graded and progressive responsibility under the guidance and supervision of faculty members, along with a focus on lifelong learning, are the core tenets of our educational program. We believe that at the completion of training, graduates are prepared for the challenges ahead and can look forward to the fulfillment that comes from pursuing a career that fosters life-long learning.

Our primary training location is Sanford Health which is the largest rural, non-profit health care system in the nation. Sanford is comprised of 41 medical centers, 291 clinics and more than 28,000 employees. The primary hospital is a 500+ bed non-profit tertiary care center with a cancer center. The pathology department is located in the primary hospital and provides pathology coverage for Sanford Health and the surrounding areas seeing approximately 50,000 specimens per year. These distinctive health care characteristics give our residents a strong foundation in all areas of pathology and provide great opportunities to pursue a career in pathology in a private or academic setting. In addition, our residents will rotate at the Sioux Falls Veterans Affairs Health Care System. The size of our program and the absence of fellowship programs allow one-on-one interaction with faculty from the beginning of training to help develop individual skills as a pathologist.

As an active staff member at Sanford Medical Center I practice general anatomic and clinical pathology. Medical students and residents are fully integrated into the clinic with a surgical volume of approximately 50,000. I am in clinic 5 full days weekly with designated time set aside for administrative duties.

COVID-19 has had a profound impact on medicine in general. We are fortunate that we have a well-funded, well-organized hospital system that has stayed on top of the current pandemic. We have not experienced a shortage of PPE. Residents are currently not performing post-mortem examinations of COVID-19 positive patients. Overall the pandemic has been manageable here in South Dakota and at this time Sanford has a very low census of COVID patients.

We have increased our virtual learning and meeting participation the last few months. We are equipped with the ability to present our histologic slides from the residents’ office for all multi-disciplinary conferences if need be. Unfortunately, interviews will be virtual this year but we look forward to meeting you and giving you a closer look at our outstanding program.

We hope that you enjoy exploring our program website, where you will find additional information regarding our rotations, conference schedule, benefits and living in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

DesiRae Muirhead, M.D.
Pathology Residency Program Director