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Health disparities are an ongoing issue in the state of South Dakota, specifically within rural and Native American communities. An explicit goal of the Sanford School of Medicine (SSOM), the sole medical school in South Dakota, is to improve health care for the citizens of the state with an emphasis on rural and Native communities. Many initiatives have been undertaken by SSOM to address these existing disparities; however, few opportunities exist for undergraduate premedical students to contribute. The purpose of this paper is to develop a program that establishes meaningful connections between premedical students and Native American communities in South Dakota. A well-designed cultural immersion program has the potential to influence the career paths of pre-professional students. The goal of the proposed program is to facilitate relationship-building between medical pre-professionals and their potential patient populations to influence future generations of South Dakotan medical professionals towards addressing rural health disparities. Specific goals for individual program participants include engaging in critical self-reflection, learning Native history, and developing cultural humility. The program goals are to be accomplished through a variety of theoretical frameworks, such as Transformative Learning Theory, and best practices established through a comprehensive literature review. Discussion will include relevant theories, methods, logistical considerations, evaluation tools (e.g. Intercultural Development Inventory), practical applications, and other considerations for accomplishing the previously stated goals of an undergraduate cultural immersion program.

First Advisor

DenYelle Kenyon

Second Advisor

Damon LeaderCharge

Research Area

Interdisciplinary Honors Program