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Published on July 23, 2018

Avera Health and USD Partner for History-Making Scholarship

Avera Health has established a history-making scholarship fund for American Indians at The University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine.

The Avera Health American Indian Scholarship Program Fund will provide educational opportunities for American Indian medical students. Recipients will be encouraged to provide care in underserved South Dakota areas.

“This is an amazing opportunity, one that breaks new ground and provides more than just educational opportunities,” said Bob Sutton, Avera Health President and CEO. “It will build pathways to enhance health care in places where it is most needed.”

The scholarship will provide $24,000 for American Indian students who are enrolled members of federally recognized tribes located in South Dakota or the upper Midwest. The first recipient scholar will be announced in July.

“This partnership will allow Sanford School of Medicine to provide opportunities to promising American Indian students, who as future physicians will serve their communities directly,” said Mary D. Nettleman, MD, Dean of USD’s Sanford School of Medicine. “Indirectly, their examples will inspire future generations. We are deeply grateful to Avera Health for this important scholarship fund.”

The program aligns with Avera Health’s mission to make a positive impact upon the lives and health of persons and communities, all while considering future needs and the stewardship of resources, including talented students. In addition to the funding, the program includes a mentorship program.

"In addition to financial assistance, the Avera Health American Indian Scholar program includes a mentorship component which is a partnership between Avera and the medical school,” said Gerald Yutrzenka, PhD, Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion at Sanford School of Medicine. “This robust program is designed to support these students throughout their medical education.”

Avera and the medical school will collaborate to recruit potential student scholars for the program, and the health system’s ongoing outreach on reservations will make these steps more effective.

“We envision recipients coming from many parts of the region, and this partnership’s strength will be the enthusiastic embodiment of our health system’s mission as well as Avera’s Indian Health Initiative program,” said J.R. LaPlante, Avera Director of Tribal Relations. “With the collaboration of Sanford School of Medicine, we see this program as one that will truly shape, with knowledge and compassion, those students willing to dedicate their lives to the well-being of Indian reservation communities.”

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