USD medical students help rural areas fight coronavirus

Published: May. 11, 2020 at 5:27 PM CDT
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Like all others in higher education, medical students across South Dakota had to hit pause on in-clinic training and move online in March. But it hasn’t stopped some from gaining some very important experience.

Some students at USD Sanford School of Medicine are staying at least four weeks in rural communities helping out at the hospitals and clinics during this pandemic. Rural communities don't always have as many resources on hand and with the unpredictability of COVID-19, resources are even tighter.

"Healthcare workers may become ill, their families may become ill and we need students really to assist and fill a void in those situations,” said Susan Anderson Dean of Rural Medicine at USD.

So medical students like Carl Lang and Riley Schaap are volunteering their time to help out. They are currently in Winner.

"We're in this profession to serve others, to help other patients and so I’d say that was the main reason myself and other classmates wanted to come to these rural locations to help out in ,” said Lang.

They are also gaining important experience.

“To learn how we can benefit our patients in the future if this were to happen again,”said Lang.

"Actually learning about how does a local community, how does a local hospital and clinic prepare for a pandemic that can be unpredictable? Because unfortunately we'll probably be in a similar situation again sometime during their career,” said Anderson.

They're helping out where needed. For Lauren Von Hove who is in Wagner,” I go in and I talk with the patients before the doctor goes in and I report back to her as to what's going on with them.”

Albert Wu is in Redfield, focusing on educating community members about the disease.

“Doctors can only do so much. If we can keep the patients out of the hospital by teaching them how to properly and protect themselves from the virus that's the best thing we can do for them,” said Wu.

So far students say it's been a great learning experience.

"I've just seen how people support each other and how much responsibility each person takes in all this, so that's really encouraging to see,” said Lang.

This is just one of the ways students are helping out in communities right now. Others are taking this time to do things like babysit for medical workers or help with food distributions.