#418. Yankton Rural Area Health Education Center

Posted on | The Agurban
We love to hear how communities work together for the good of their citizens. Adequate healthcare availability is essential for all citizens; Southern South Dakota has their people covered!

Yankton Rural Area Health Education Center

“Connecting students to careers, professionals to communities, and communities to better health”

Since 1979, the Yankton Rural Area Health Education Center (YRAHEC) has strived 
“to enhance access to quality healthcare, particularly primary and preventive care, by improving the supply and distribution of healthcare professionals through community and academic partnerships”. The YRAHEC has successfully developed program collaborations with organizations and entities sharing the same commonalities and goals of improving access to high quality healthcare services in medically underserved areas of South Dakota (SD).

Creating a sustainable healthcare workforce in rural/frontier SD is crucial to a small community’s survival. The recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals supports a strong local economy and potential for future growth. 
Education, outreach and programmatic activities are provided to a primary service area of 24 counties with additional services provided to 10 counties in western SD.

The services provided for grades K-12 include: 

  • Scrubs Camps:  interactive health career fairs for grades 9-12
  • Shadow First Program:  healthcare job shadowing experience for grades 9-12
  • Career and Science Fairs
  • In A Box:  hands-on learning modules and curricula for grades 4-8
  • Great Hospital Adventure:  multimedia healthcare careers and healthy behaviors program for grades K-4
  • Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Institute:  Avera Health Quality Award winning program for students ages 16-19
  • Partnership with 4-H clubs to train leaders and students in CPR and use of anautomated external defibrillator (AED)
In addition, continuing education is provided to secondary health education students, including the Rural Experiences for Health Professions Students (REHPS) which matches healthcare students to rural facilities for a four-week educational experience; and the SD Disaster Training, where nearly 400 healthcare students from the University of SD (USD) and SD State University (SDSU) representing 10 disciplines attend basic disaster response and teamwork skills training.

Special programs are also made available for healthcare professionals. These include Lunch and Learn programs that have covered topics such as Breast Cancer/Health and Management for Patients, and Prevention of Violence & Trauma of Women & Girls; Veterans Care Conferences; Chronic Kidney Disease Update Conference; Smoking Cessation program; Preceptor Training, in which participants explore techniques, effective behaviors, and requirements related to providing excellent field training for health professions students; PAVE (Partnership for Adult Vaccination and Education) project; and Partnership with Yankton County Emergency Management (EMS) to fund training for Emergency Medical or Emergency Medical Technician courses.

The South Dakota Area Health Education Center (SD AHEC) has a mission to “connect students to careers, professionals to communities, and communities to better health.”   Established in 2009 through a HRSA grant awarded to the Sanford School of Medicine, the statewide program currently has two centers, the Yankton Rural AHEC and the Northeast AHEC.

To learn more about what the Yankton Rural Area Health Education Center provides to its citizens, and to see what events they have upcoming, visit