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Medical school partners with USD School of Health Sciences to educate South Dakota health care providers about COVID-19

The University of South Dakota School of Health Sciences’ video-conferencing platform, known as ECHO, offered an eight-week series of informational programs about the COVID-19 pandemic to South Dakota’s health care professionals and health professions students. Partnering with the health sciences school on this project was the medical school.

Programs relevant to the pandemic were offered each week during April and May on Thursday evenings, and each hour-long program featured experts addressing selected topics. Participants were able to ask questions and interact during the hour-long sessions. The ECHO project is especially useful to deliver important information to rural health care providers who otherwise might not have direct access to expertise about COVID-19 and related issues. USD will also be offering ECHO programs about other health issues facing South Dakotans.

“Our staff, faculty and partners are creating invaluable content to share with our state’s health care professionals who benefit from ECHO’s information-sharing capabilities,” said Haifa Samra, dean of the USD School of Health Sciences, sponsor of one of South Dakota’s two ECHO hubs. “ECHO provides a unique and interprofessional platform for our students, faculty and for health practitioners across the state. It allows for those of us in the health professions to share and exchange information, ideas, experiences and best practices to address current challenges.”

Leading medical school contributions to ECHO’s pandemic series was Dr. Susan Anderson, dean of rural medicine at the medical school. Anderson emphasized the distinct contribution of the ECHO program, particularly to rural health care providers. “I believe we filled a niche,” she explained, “as there was and is a lot of information about the pandemic communicated through a variety of mediums on a daily basis, and the ECHO programs provided a unique platform offering discussion and sharing.”

Attendance for the eight-week series was strong, including health care professionals from all regions of South Dakota. For more information about ECHO, visit the ECHO USD website at or contact ECHO via email: