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Palliative Care Program Led by USD Nursing Benefits from Bush Foundation Grant

Sabina Kupershmidt headshot Sabina Kupershmidt, Ph.D., assistant professor of nursing, interim director of the Ph.D. in Health Sciences program and IHEC chair, is the project director for the palliative care program.

VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota Department of Nursing and a statewide coalition of health professionals supporting and promoting palliative care is a recipient of a $208,500 grant from the Bush Foundation.

The mission of the coalition is to foster an increased understanding and application of palliative care in South Dakota and the region. Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life for patients and their families facing challenges associated with a life-threatening illness.

The Bush Foundation grant allows the coalition to continue their training and education work, including allowing USD’s nursing department to utilize USD’s Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) technology for training and mentoring purposes. With ECHO, subject or content experts are connected through technology with health care practitioners in local communities. This amplifies and spreads specialized knowledge, increasing the capacity to help those in underserved areas.

When the coalition was first established in 2015, its focus was on advanced care planning which is an important pillar of palliative care. That emphasis is now expanding to other aspects of palliative care.

Project director is Sabina Kupershmidt, Ph.D., and clinical director is Cheryl Fischbach, DNP, both of USD nursing. Numerous community partners including Avera Palliative Care Services, the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations and Monument Health participate in and benefit from the programming. A geographic emphasis of the project is to serve rural and underserved areas of the state and region. 


USD’s School of Health Sciences is a national leader in interprofessional health sciences education. South Dakota’s comprehensive School of Health Sciences develops scholars, practitioners and leaders in health and human services, including addiction counselors, dental hygienists, health science practitioners, medical laboratory scientists, nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, physician assistants, public health practitioners and social workers.


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