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USD Sanford School of Medicine Leads Nation in Rural Practice Doctors

Rural HEALTHCARE Photo USD is ranked no. 1 in the country for the proportion of medical graduates who practice in a rural area.

VERMILLION, S.D. – Statistics released by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) indicate that the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine produces among its graduates a greater percentage of physicians practicing in rural areas than any other medical school in the United States.

The recent national study rated USD’s medical school as no. 1 in the country for the proportion of medical graduates who practice in a rural area. This marks the second year in the last three years that South Dakota’s only school of medicine has achieved this distinction. There are 145 medical schools in the nation.  

“There is a great need for physicians in rural areas, and we are proud that so many of our graduates choose to practice in these communities,” said Dr. Mary Nettleman, dean of the USD Sanford School of Medicine. “The medical school and its partners have created several successful programs that connect our students to small communities and rural areas in South Dakota, and the State of South Dakota has generously supported these important programs.”

Founded as a two-year medical program in 1907, USD’s medical school expanded to a four-year, M.D.-degree granting institution in 1974. The medical school has produced more than 3,800 alumni, and approximately 700 doctors currently serving in South Dakota are graduates of the medical school. More than 90 percent of the students enrolled in the medical school are South Dakota natives or have family connections to South Dakota.


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 84 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.


Hanna DeLange
USD News