Sisseton to host health professions students in 2016

Sisseton joins 13 other South Dakota communities in welcoming health professions students for four weeks during the summer of 2016. Ashley Reierson, South Dakota State University (SDSU) pharmacy student from Pollock and University of South Dakota (USD) – Sanford School of Medicine medical student Rebecca Jarratt from Sioux Falls will follow providers at Coteau des Prairies Health Center starting May 31.

Communities selected to participate in Rural Experiences for Health Professions Students (REHPS) summer experience must have populations under 10,000 people and house a critical access hospital. The program is designed to bring health professions graduates to rural South Dakota for rewarding careers.

Starting its sixth year, REHPS will bring 28 students to 14 South Dakota communities. The students were selected in a competitive process earlier this year. Each community hosts two students from different areas of healthcare. The REHPS program began in 2011, when three communities welcomed six students. Students are inspired by the experience, due in large part to the host communities, and their professionals’ mentoring skills.

“I would have to wrap up this experience as one of the best choices I have made in my program to pursue. … I mentioned my fondest memory will be having shared a moment with a provider that is retiring while following her with one of her patients of 30 years. He was weeping, wondering where he would find care. Nothing is more intimate than a man telling you that you are like a daughter to him. As I witnessed this, I felt that this physician is such a reminder of what it means to be rural. She stuck by this man through so many things in his life. I consider her a role model for providers. I hope to experience this someday in my career. As I exited the site, I had to let her know she raises the bar very high for providers everywhere. I look forward to looking for employment as a future NP in the near future and I do look forward to seeking a position (in) a rural community,” said SDSU family nurse practitioner student Kelli Hinsch about her experience last year in Sisseton with USD master of social work student Dana Martens.

The 2016 REHPS communities are: Bowdle, Chamberlain, Custer, Faulkton, Hot Springs, Miller, Parkston, Philip, Platte, Redfield, Sisseton, Sturgis, Wagner, and Winner. The REHPS program connects interprofessional groups of students enrolled in clinical psychology, family nurse practitioner, medical, medical laboratory science, physician assistant, pharmacy, and social work programs at SDSU and USD.

“When selecting a site to host REHPS students, we look for a facility interested in the education of health professions students and an understanding of how important it is to give these students a first-hand look at how rewarding a career in rural medicine can be. We are also looking for vibrant and active communities who will welcome students and hopefully entice them to return when they are finished with their education. I would encourage families willing to host students for dinner or a family outing to contact the facility to make those arrangements ,” said Cheri Buffington, REHPS Program Manager.

REHPS receives funding from the Office of Rural Health/South Dakota Department of Health and is managed by the Yankton Rural Area Health Education Center. Follow the student’s experiences at

Ashley Reirerson


Rebecca Jarratt