VERMILLION, S.D. – The United States Public Health Service (USPHS) has recognized University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine student Avery Olson as a winner of the 2020 Excellence in Public Health Award.
Olson, a Rapid City native and a graduate of Colorado State University, was recognized for her extensive work in a community research program called “Walking Forward,” a program that educates rural and local health care providers about the causes of cancer and related health issues among American Indian populations.
Olson is a Pillar 3 student in her third year at the USD Sanford School of Medicine and is based on the medical school’s Rapid City campus. Dr. Daniel Petereit, a radiation oncologist in Rapid City and a clinical professor in the medical school’s internal medicine department, served as Olson’s advisor during the project.
Olson’s work in the Walking Forward program has focused on increasing awareness by local health care providers regarding lung cancer screening guidelines, the availability of low dose computerized tomography and billing procedures that encourage low dose tomography referrals. The project included education of 135 local health care providers in 30 clinics using online resources.
The awards program recognizes medical students in institutions across the United States who advance public health and exemplify the USPHS mission to protect, promote and advance the health and safety of the people of the United States.