USD Medical School grant will help underserved populations

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The Sanford School of Medicine of The University of South Dakota has received $1.1 million in second-year federal funding for the South Dakota Area Health Education Center (AHEC). The program addresses a critical health care and economic development need in the state – a shortage of health care professionals in rural areas.

The first-year funding established a statewide program as well as the Yankton Rural Area Health Education Center, which is located on the campus of Avera Sacred Heart Hospital. Funding for the second year will be used to establish a second AHEC, add staff, support minority student programs and help create a rural clinical track for students at the medical school.

The Yankton Rural AHEC’s agenda will include developing a program for students to shadow health professionals, providing education on veterans’ issues and helping organize national disaster support training for medical students.

“This second year of funding confirms the good work done in our first year,” said H. Bruce Vogt, M.D., chair of the Department of Family Medicine and director of South Dakota’s AHEC. “It also provides us critical resources to enhance the programming and services we provide.”

Funding for Area Health Education Centers is provided federally through the Bureau of Health Professions, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.