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USD Med Students Begin Rural Training

University of South Dakota

A shortage of physicians is a problem in South Dakota's small towns. But a new initiative at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine is designed to help fix the problem by sending medical students to rural South Dakota hospitals.

This week the first group of students in the FARM, or Frontier and Rural Medicine program, started their work at five rural community hospitals as a part of their physician training. While other medical students rotate to different hospitals around the state for six week stints, these six students will study in one rural location for the entire nine months. Participating hospitals in the FARM program are in Milbank, Mobridge, Parkston, Platte and Winner.

Dr. Susan Anderson is chair of the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine’s Department of Family Medicine and director of the FARM Program. She discussed the initiative on Dakota Midday.


Karl was born to northeastern South Dakota crouton farmers, but was orphaned as a toddler during the Great Salad War (1966-67). Rescued by a flock of chickadees, he grew up in the woodlands of Sica Hollow. Legends of a bird boy living in the trees attracted the interest of renowned ornithologist and amateur bandoneon repairman Dr. Vogel Gehrke. With a handful of suet, Dr. Gehrke coaxed the timid boy down from the trees. He adopted him, named him Karl and taught him not to molt on the carpet. Dr. Gehrke’s book, The Bird Boy of Sica Hollow, was a best seller and Karl became a minor celebrity and teen idol. He appeared as a guest star on numerous television programs, most notably an awkward role on The Love Boat as the boyfriend of Captain Stubing’s daughter, Vicki. After critics panned his 1980 album, Bird Boy Does Disco, Karl retreated from public life and returned to Sica Hollow. Living in an isolated tree house, Karl achieved a reputation as a mystic. Pilgrims and seekers from around the world came to ask him about the meaning of life and for vinaigrette recipes. Growing tired of answering questions, he climbed down from his tree, shaved his massive white beard and took a job as the host of SDPB Radio’s Dakota Midday where he could ask the questions instead. After three years in that position, he ran out of questions and became host of Jazz Nightly instead. Karl makes his home in Vermillion with his charming wife Kari and three delightful children, Kodey, Kasey and Spatula. His hobbies include reciting the alphabet, combing his hair and doing volunteer work with delinquent songbirds.