“This is a tremendous program for our students, the state of South Dakota and the medical community as it combines diverse surgical training opportunities with the expertise of so many outstanding committed teachers and physicians,” said Mary D. Nettleman, M.D., M.S., M.A.C.P., Dean of the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine. “The end result will be highly-trained surgeons dedicated to enhancing health care in rural communities.”

The five-year general surgery residency program will include 15 (three students per year in the five-year training program) surgery residents, who will acquire a diverse skill set in 12 different surgical fields, including cardiac and thoracic, head/neck and endocrine, neurocritical care, obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedic, pediatric, plastic, transplant, trauma acute care, vascular, urology and surgical critical care. Sanford Health will financially support the program and develop an innovative surgical simulation laboratory located in the Sanford Surgical Tower in Sioux Falls.

“This residency will be geared to train rural general surgeons hoping to meet the increasing national shortage of surgical access for patients,” explained Gary Timmerman, M.D., chair of the Department of Surgery, Sanford School of Medicine.

The surgical residents will experience a wide range of hands-on experience and training with rotations in general surgery, including rural surgery at community-based and federal hospital systems in Sioux Falls, Yankton, S.D. and the VA. It will be the fifth rural focus program in the nation for general residency and the only surgical residency in South Dakota. The program’s plan recently obtained approval from the national Residency Review Committee. The first residents are scheduled to begin next summer.

“This residency is going to be a major stepping stone for surgical care opportunities, with an emphasis on producing experienced and well-trained surgeons for rural communities,” said Thay Thambi-Pillai, M.D., a Sanford surgeon who will serve as the residency program director. “This is a building block for the future of health care in South Dakota.”

Sanford Health and USD have collaborated often to advance residency training in South Dakota. Sanford Health partnered with USD to develop a pediatric residency that launched in 2010 and a cardiovascular fellowship that launched in 2012.

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