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Trailblazing rural physician training starts Wednesday July 9

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Wednesday, July 9 marks the very first day that medical students from the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine begin their contributions and learning as participants in the medical school’s new, trailblazing rural healthcare initiative called FARM (Frontier and Rural Medicine).

As part of the FARM program, six third-year students were selected to serve at five hospitals in five rural South Dakota communities. Each student will receive nine months of intense and hands-on clinical training at a single hospital that will help them understand the opportunities and conditions of practicing medicine in a small-town setting.

“We want to expose students to rural communities and rural healthcare,” said Dr. Susan Anderson, MD, director of the FARM program. “We’re trying to dispel the myths of rural medicine. There is a misunderstanding that small communities do not have modern technology or facilities. This is not true. We also want our students to experience the different level of care and relationships they will have with patients in small communities. They will find out that they often meet their patients around town, in the grocery store or in other places. Practicing medicine in a small community has its own rewards and challenges, and we want our students to understand that.”

Approved and funded by the South Dakota Legislature in 2012, the FARM program was specifically designed to combat the shortage of physicians in rural areas of South Dakota, a priority of the medical school and Gov. Dennis Daugaard.

“We are excited and proud of our first group of FARM students,” said Anderson. “We are also excited to partner with some excellent healthcare facilities around the state. This is a win-win-win situation, for our students, the communities, and the entire state. We think this program will successfully increase the number of physicians practicing in rural communities across South Dakota.”

FARM student - Community assignment & hospital - Student’s hometown

  • Nicholas Kohles – Milbank, SD/Milbank Area Hospital (Avera) - Hometown: Aberdeen, S.D.

  • George Ceremuga – Mobridge, SD /Mobridge Regional Hospital and Clinics - Hometown: Rapid City, S.D.

  • Josh Doorn – Parkston, SD/Avera St. Benedict Health Center - Hometown: Sioux Falls, S.D.

  • Erin Rasmussen – Platte, SD/Platte Health Center (Avera) - Hometown: Vermillion, S.D.

  • Heather Walker – Winner, SD/Winner Regional Health Care Center (Sanford) - Hometown: Vermillion, S.D.

  • David Kapperman – Winner/Winner Regional Health Care Center (Sanford) - Hometown: Hartford, S.D.


USD's Sanford School of Medicine is nationally known for excellence. With its award-winning curriculum, the school prepares medical students to practice in all fields of medicine and is particularly recognized and ranked for its reputation in family medicine and rural medicine. In addition to the M.D., it offers graduate degrees in basic biomedical science, sustains a vibrant and forward-looking research agenda, and is home to the interdisciplinary Center for Brain and Behavioral Research.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

This material is available in an alternate format upon request. Please contact University Relations at 605-677-5759. If you are a person with a disability and need a special accommodation to fully participate in any university activity or event, please contact Disability Services at 605-677-6389 as soon as possible, but no later than 48 hours before the event, so that appropriate arrangements may be made.


Hanna DeLange
USD News