Pediatrics Residency Program

Training Pediatricians in Compassionate Care

The Sanford Pediatrics Residency Program at Sanford Children's Hospital at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine is a unique and vibrant educational community dedicated to developing the finest pediatric leaders in the world.


We invest in children and their families by improving local, national and global pediatric health care.


The Sanford Health Pediatrics Residency Program, officially accredited by the ACGME, is an exciting training program accommodating six residents per year in a three-year training curriculum.

Sanford Children's Hospital serves as the center of training for our residents. The program also will take advantage of the distinctive characteristics of health care in South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota, including rural pediatrics and the unique aspects of caring for Native American children. Our residents can take advantage of the exceptional training and research opportunities by the national and international Sanford Health children's clinics, as well as additional research opportunities at the Sanford Children's Health Research Center. In addition, our residents work side by side with medical students from the Sanford School of Medicine of The University of South Dakota, family medicine residents and other health care trainees from the region.

The faculty, along with residency program director Joseph Zenel Jr., MD, see this residency as an opportunity for learning how to be a leader in pediatrics. Our immediate goal is to enhance the care of the children of the Upper Midwest by training specialists in children's health who will populate our communities, both large and small. Just as important, residents will receive a foundation of pediatric medicine that can serve as the basis for the most rigorous subspecialty fellowship programs.

Pediatrics Residency Overview

The Pediatrics Residency Program of the Sanford Children's Hospital, Sanford School of Medicine of The University of South Dakota trains medical school graduates to practice general pediatrics. Because of the rural nature of South Dakota, a strong emphasis is placed on residents obtaining the intellectual and procedural skills necessary for preventive and primary pediatric care and for advocating and caring for all children with behavioral, developmental and/or complex multi-system disease, in the inpatient, outpatient and community settings. For those residents interested in pursuing a career in clinical research, there is ample opportunity to participate in the Sanford Children's Research Center, a two-site campus at Sioux Falls, SD, and La Jolla, CA, dedicated to developing translational research for pediatrics.

The program consists of 36 months of training in pediatrics leading to eligibility to sit for the certifying examination administered by the American Board of Pediatrics. The program is an integrated program with rotations at Sanford Children's Hospital, Sanford USD Medical Center, Children's Care Hospital and School and other facilities throughout the region and world. Graduates of the residency program will be able to practice general pediatrics, pursue further training in a pediatrics subspecialty and/or develop a career in academic medicine.

Pediatrics residents are required to care for a group of children over a period of time in a specific, outpatient setting, frequently called a "continuity" clinic. In general, residents spend one half day per week in a continuity experience where they see a "sufficient number and adequate variety" of children of all ages from birth through young adulthood, well children and children with chronic illnesses. This clinic serves as a medical home, in which residents learn to provide ambulatory care within a network of nurses, social workers, nutritionists, interpreters and physical, occupational and speech therapists. Patients are recruited from schools, the newborn nursery and the hospital wards. Frequently these are patients who do not have a pediatrician or assigned medical home.

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