The Governor's Primary Care Task Force has presented its final report to Gov. Dennis Daugaard, recommending that health professions' education programs work more closely together in South Dakota and that training opportunities in rural areas be expanded.
The task force also recommends that Gov. Daugaard appoint an ongoing oversight committee to monitor progress and report to him, the Board of Regents and the Legislature.
"An aging population needing more health care, a declining school-age population to fill healthcare positions, and the concentration of health professionals in our most populous areas are making it difficult in rural communities to recruit and retain medical providers," the Governor said. "The task force's assignment was not easy, and I appreciate the time and effort devoted to it."
The task force report offers detailed strategies and recommendations in five areas:
Capacity of healthcare education programs
Quality rural health experiences
Recruitment and retention
Innovative primary care models
Accountability and oversight
Examples of specific strategies include payments to South Dakota medical providers who offer instruction and supervision of physician assistant students, and expanding rural experience programs such as the Frontier and Rural Medicine (FARM) program.
Gov. Daugaard said an oversight committee is crucial.
"Maintaining health care in rural South Dakota is a long-term commitment that requires continually tracking our efforts and checking the data to make sure we're making a difference," the Governor said. "The oversight committee will make sure these recommendations don't just sit on a shelf."
The 25-member task force was appointed in May to study primary medical care education in the state and recommend ways to train more family practice physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and other primary health care providers for South Dakota's rural areas. The group's full report can be viewed at http://doh.sd.gov/PrimaryCare/
Promoting rural health occupations is a key component of Gov. Daugaard's South Dakota Workforce Initiatives (WINS). South Dakota WINS is a workforce development program that brings together government, education and business leaders to help the state develop and attract a stronger, more-educated workforce. Find more information about the program at http://www.southdakotawins.com/