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USD School of Medicine Helps Lead Effort to Boost State's Health Care Workforce

Dr. Susan Anderson, 2019 Distinguished Alumni winner. Dr. Susan Anderson is the program director of South Dakota's AHEC and chair of family medicine at USD's Sanford School of Medicine.

VERMILLION, S.D. – A statewide coalition led by University of South Dakota's Sanford School of Medicine that aims to boost South Dakota’s health care workforce has expanded its reach to the Black Hills and western South Dakota.

Leadership from USD’s medical school heads the Area Health Education Center (AHEC) in South Dakota, an initiative that connects high school and college students and others to health care professions, with an emphasis on steering those students to work in rural and medically underserved locations in the state. AHEC now has offices in Yankton and Aberdeen and will soon open an office in Rapid City on the campus of Western Dakota Tech.

AHEC, a federally funded program helping inspire, educate and generate health care professionals, was founded in 1971. AHEC’s South Dakota affiliate was established in 2009.

“The addition of the West River AHEC Center will provide even more opportunities for South Dakota AHEC to make strides in healthcare workforce development across the state, and we are excited to partner with entities in western South Dakota, “ said Dr. Susan Anderson, SD AHEC program director and chair of family medicine at USD’s medical school.

Anderson described a broad collection of engaged and committed partners and collaborators working with USD to help establish the West River AHEC office. AHEC’s West River partner organizations contribute meeting and program spaces as well as a variety of additional resources to support AHEC’s work.

According to Anderson, it is a significant mission of USD’s Sanford School of Medicine and the university’s School of Health Sciences to supply physicians and health care professionals to our state and to our state’s rural places. “USD and the medical school are involved in a variety of activities and strategies to build South Dakota’s health care workforce,” Anderson explained. “AHEC is a critical component of that effort.”


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