Through recent years, the need to strengthen the respiratory therapy and public health workforce has been identified, including here in South Dakota. The innovative BREATHE-SD (Bringing Resources, Education, Awareness, Training, Holistic care, and Empowerment to South Dakota) grant works to meet that need. The 3 year, $1.545 million BREATHE-SD grant, awarded by Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), is designed to meet rural health workforce needs and is a partnership between South Dakota State University (SDSU) Community Practice Innovation Center (CPIC) and Northern Plains Health Network Partners (Huron Regional Medical Center, Madison Regional Health System, and Brookings Health System). The three target counties for BREATHE-SD include Beadle, Lake, and Brookings. These counties are classified as rural and as a Health Professional Shortage Area by HRSA.
The 3 year grant will focus on initiatives such as,
- Respiratory Care
- Growing SDSU’s Respiratory Care program capacity from 24 to 40 A.S. students per year. This means SDSU added 2 additional faculty members, one at HRMC and one to split between Brookings and Madison. This faculty addition will allow the program to have capacity for 8 students at HRMC and 8 between Brookings and Madison. Additionally, all A.S. degree requirements also count toward the B.S. in respiratory care.
- Currently students must relocate to Rapid City or Sioux Falls. Therefore, creating opportunities for students to stay and complete clinical rotations in their rural communities (Beadle, Lake, and Brookings), will allow hospitals to recruit these students to their communities.
- Through the grant, there are half price tuition scholarships for the professional year of the program. In addition, many hospitals are offering sponsorships of their own.
- Public Health
- A five-course public health certificate is available as part of the grant and is designed to be completed at the student’s pace. The courses will explore fundamental concepts in public health theory, epidemiology, and application of public health concepts.
- Similar to respiratory care, half price tuition scholarships for the certificate are also available.
- Students will have the ability to continue to grow in their public health career by earning a master’s degree in public health. This degree is an online program offered jointly through USD and SDSU.
- Encourage and provide cross training for specialties such as, respiratory therapy, pharmacy, nursing, EMS, long term care nursing & CNA.
- Increase awareness of respiratory therapy and public health professions among the public, including K-12 students.