A Newsletter of the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine | March 2021
M.D. Update
From the Dean
Welcome to the latest edition of our newsletter. Our school continues to grow and thrive, evidenced by some of the highlights below. COVID-19 vaccination is proceeding well for our students, faculty, and staff, and we are hopeful we are starting to see some daylight in these trying times. Everyone has showed tremendous resilience and we look forward to life “post-pandemic.” Please enjoy all the wonderful things happening, and be sure to stop by if in the area!
Library Remodel Includes Spacious New Classroom
The Wegner Health Sciences Library has reopened after an extensive remodeling project. Located on the medical school’s Sioux Falls campus, this library is one of the region’s most important and comprehensive medical resources, serving not only medical and other health students and faculty, but also aiding practicing physicians and front-line medical providers. An integral aspect of the remodel is the creation of a large, new medical student classroom on the library’s second floor. This new learning space was dedicated Feb. 24 as the Mary D. Nettleman Classroom. Dr. Nettleman served as dean of the medical school from 2012 to 2020.
Match Day 2021: Soon-to-Graduate Medical Students Learn Post-Graduate Destinations
Pillar Three students set to graduate from the school of medicine received their post-graduate assignments on Match Day, held March 19, 2021. The new doctors – 64 in all, following graduation in May – will be performing the next stage of their training at clinics, hospitals, and health care facilities across the nation. Destinations for residencies include 26 states, with South Dakota leading all other states with 14 medical school graduates from the Class of 2021. Kansas and Iowa will host four graduates each. The most popular residency is Internal Medicine, with 12 graduates pursuing training in this field. Seven graduates will receive training in OB-GYN, six in psychiatry, and five will perform residencies in family medicine. In all, 18 different areas of medicine comprise the list of residencies matched by USD medical school graduates. Nationally, some 42,508 soon-to-be-physicians from all U.S. medical schools and some non-U.S. medical schools were vying for 38,108 residency positions in the U.S.

See the complete list here.
Pillar 3 Student Honored for Poster Presentation

Kristin Inman, fourth year student, presented a poster at the national Post Acute – Long-Term Care (PALTC-AMDA) meeting of the American Medical Directors Association. Inman worked with Dr. Oluma Bushen to evaluate patient satisfaction in nursing homes. Inman’s poster – titled Using the Kano Model for Quality-of-Life Improvement in the Long-Term Care Setting – was awarded first place/best poster in the Quality Improvement category.
Preparing Health Professionals to Treat Autism
Dramatically rising rates of diagnosed autism in South Dakota and the entire nation have created a severe gap in treatment opportunities. Nationally, about 1 in 54 children have been identified as having autism. Since 2010, there has been a 1,942 percent increase across the country regarding the demand for trained health professionals to help those with autism. The treatment gap has been a hardship for those with autism and for the parents and families of those with autism. Addressing this gap is a new two-year, graduate level certificate program designed by USD’s Center for Disabilities and offered through USD’s School of Health Sciences. A third partner in this important program is LifeScape, a Sioux Falls-based organization that serves children and adults with disabilities, including autism. 

USD is accepting applications until May 1 for the first cohort in this program to begin in the fall of 2021. Enrollment is limited, and further information and registration is available by visiting the online programs page at the University of South Dakota’s website.

Center for Disabilities Marks 50th Anniversary

The year 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the Center for Disabilities at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine. The Center for Disabilities was established as part of a national network of federally designated centers now known as University Centers for Excellence in Development Disabilities, Education, Research and Service (UCEDDS). The Center successfully advocates for improving the quality of life for South Dakotans with disabilities and their families. The organization benefits about 40,000 South Dakotans each year, including residents of tribal communities and reservations, said Eric Kurtz, Ph.D., executive director of the Center. The organization’s statewide programs are administered by a team of 35 staff members, more than 20 affiliated faculty and clinical providers and 30 students training to gain hands-on expertise. The Center’s main offices are at USD’s Health Science Center in Sioux Falls. Celebratory activities are planned for later this year.
Three Recent Grads Honored by USD
Three recent graduates of the medical school were named to the University of South Dakota’s “30 under 30” honor roll for 2020. This program annually recognizes 30 USD graduates under the age of 30 who are positively impacting their communities.
Daniel Davies, ’17, M.D., a physician at the Mayo Clinic
Molly Ervin-Person, ’20, M.D., a resident physician at LSU-health, Shreveport, LA
Tyler Sternhagen, ’20, M.D., a resident physician at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Children’s Hospital, Madison, WI
New Leadership

Sioux Falls Campus Education Coordinator
Amber Christian will serve, starting April 6, as the education coordinator of the medical school’s Sioux Falls campus. 

New OSCE Director
Benjamin Aaker, M.D. is the new director of OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination).

Assistant Dean, Diversity and Inclusion
Jacob Weasel, M.D. is the new assistant dean for Diversity and Inclusion at the medical school.

Distinguished Lecture in Native American Health
Lynelle Noisy Hawk, M.D., will be the presenter at the school of medicine’s 5th annual Distinguished Lecture in Native American Health. Noisy Hawk, a 2003 graduate of the medical school, is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Nation. She serves as clinical director of the White Earth Health Center, Ogema, Minnesota. Her presentation is titled, “From Growing up on the Poorest Reservation in America to Leading Native Hospitals to Excellence.” The lecture will be presented on Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 12:00pm via Zoom. 

Women in Medicine
Reflecting a progressive national trend, the number of women enrolled in the medical school has increased through the years.
Percentage of women in graduating classes at USD medical school
(Presented as an average through noted timeframe.)
  • 1954 to 1964 – 2.8 percent
  • 1965 to 1974 – 8.2 percent
  • 1975 & 1976 – records NA
  • 1977 to 1987 – 20.6 percent
  • 1988 to 2000 – 38.7 percent
  • 2001 to 2010 – 43.4 percent
  • 2011 to 2020 – 44 percent
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the percentage of women in the physician workforce likewise has increased. In 2007, women represented 28.3% of the nation’s physicians. By 2019, that percentage had increased to 36.3%.
Groundbreaking Set for New School of Health Sciences’ Building
A key health care and educational partner for the medical school, USD’s School of Health Sciences, will soon see construction begin on a new building and facility to serve its students, faculty and staff. The new structure will be adjacent to the existing Lee Medical Building, on the Vermillion campus. You are invited to witness the groundbreaking event for this historic and exciting development.
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