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Our members know their states! This week brings us South Dakota expertise from our SD member, Jill Dean!

Name: Jill Dean

City, State: Pierre, South Dakota

Organization: South Dakota Department of Health, Office of Rural Health 

How long have you lived in South Dakota? Why do you choose to live there? People in South Dakota choose to live here due to the wide open spaces, clean air and water, and the friendly people.

What are the best cultural events that happen in South Dakota? South Dakota’s culture reflects the state’s American Indian, rural, western and European roots. There are nine Native American tribes in South Dakota and each of them have a unique story to tell.  Every year, the Native American tribes hold powwows which are social events with singing and dancing that can last several days.

Why should a health professional choose South Dakota over surrounding states? South Dakota is a great place to live with friendly people, and a low cost of living.

What loan repayment programs does South Dakota have? Anything that makes those programs unique? The South Dakota Office of Rural Health administers a Recruitment Assistance Program which offers an incentive payment for healthcare professionals who agree to a three year full-time work commitment at a rural health care facility in our state. This program currently offers an incentive of $219,000 for physicians and dentists, and an incentive of $65,000 for physician assistants, nurse practitioners and nurse midwives.

South Dakota also administers a Rural Healthcare Facility Recruitment Assistance Program which offers a $10,000 incentive for a three year full-time work commitment at a rural healthcare facility.  This program is available for nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, paramedics, pharmacists, medical lab technologists, dietitians, respiratory therapists, radiologic technologists, speech therapists, and healthcare social workers.

How is the J-1 Visa Waiver program utilized in South Dakota? South Dakota is committed to assuring that all South Dakotans have access to quality and affordable healthcare, and has established the J-1 Visa Waiver Program to help rural communities recruit foreign or international medical graduate physicians. Applications must be submitted by the employing facility and the employing facility must be located in or serving residents of a shortage area as determined by the South Dakota Department of Health and designated by the federal government.

Are healthcare professionals valued in South Dakota? Do you have any examples? South Dakota values our healthcare professionals and offers generous recruitment incentive programs with the goal of retaining those healthcare professionals long term.

Why do people travel to South Dakota? People travel to South Dakota to visit Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, and the Badlands. Many people also come to South Dakota for the abundant fishing and hunting opportunities that are available.

What is your favorite local food? South Dakotans favorite local foods are beef, walleye, pheasant, and fry bread. The state dessert is kuchen, a cake and pie combination topped with creamy custard. 

What is South Dakota best known for? South Dakota is best known for Mount Rushmore, a national monument with the presidential faces of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt carved into the granite hillside. South Dakota is also known for the Black Hills which are covered with evergreen trees and are the highest mountains east of the Rockies.

Laura Ingalls Wilder is one of South Dakota’s best-known writers and drew upon her life growing up on a homestead near DeSmet, South Dakota as the basis for five of her novels.

What are the biggest industries in South Dakota? In addition to the cattle and agricultural crops grown in South Dakota, we also have abundant hunting and fishing available across the state.

How is the weather/climate in South Dakota? Because of the considerable size of South Dakota which is 380 miles long and 210 miles wide, there are several geographic areas with different weather patterns. Our state enjoys four distinct seasons of weather, ranging from hot summers to cold winters.  South Dakotans enjoy vibrant colors in the fall with all the leaves changing color, and our state also enjoys the regrowth of green trees and plants in the spring. 

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