Welcome to the Psychiatry Program

From the Program Directors

Welcome to the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine (USDSSOM) Psychiatry Residency page. Welcome also to one of medicine’s most exhilarating and intriguing specialties. Many new and exciting adventures await within the halls of our residency program, and we thank you for taking the time to visit our page and we encourage you to explore these opportunities with us.

Nestled between the corn and soybean fields of eastern South Dakota, the USDSSOM Psychiatry Residency program is located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a city nationally recognized for quality health care and quality of living. While Sioux Falls serves as a major regional medical center, the state is largely rural and relatively sparsely populated, which has made an outreach philosophy integral to the development of the Department. With 110 faculty members across South Dakota, clinical training sites in diverse settings have been established throughout the region, including non-profit and VA hospitals; private and public residential treatment programs; university clinics; community mental health centers; forensic settings; and chemical dependency programs. This allows for a wide breadth of experience and a large measure of choice and flexibility in clinical training, as well as allowing the program to provide residents with individualized training and mentoring as they carve their path towards their own psychiatric practice.

The Department of Psychiatry at the University of South Dakota School of Medicine was established in 1974. Due to the rural nature of the state, as well as the severe shortage of mental health providers in South Dakota, the Department of Psychiatry set out to help remediate some of these issues by starting its own Psychiatry Residency Program. After receiving its initial accreditation in 1986, the residency program went on to enroll its first class of residents in July of 1987. Having proven to be successful in helping to reduce the shortage of general psychiatrists throughout South Dakota, the Department of Psychiatry then took on the challenge of increasing the number of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists in the state, and in 1992, the University of South Dakota School of Medicine Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship was established. Currently, the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine Psychiatry Residency Program, which is an ACGME accredited residency program, is approved for 28 general psychiatry resident positions and 4 Child and Adolescent fellowship positions.

The USDSSOM Psychiatry Residency Program is a resident friendly, family friendly program, dedicated to the development of tomorrow’s leaders in the field of medicine and the specialty of psychiatry. Built in 2006, the center point for our training program is the Avera Behavioral Health Center. With over 70 adult beds, 40 Child and Adolescent beds, and 14 Geriatric beds, the Avera Behavioral Health Center has gained national attention for its world class mental health facility and programing. With the addition in 2019 of a 32 bed Avera Addiction Care Center; the Avera Institute of Human Genetics, which is now a world leader in twin genetics and personalized genetic medicine; and the Avera eCare facility, a nationally recognized leader in the field of tele-medicine, the USDSSOM Psychiatry Residency Program is well positioned to continue to provide its residents with a state of the art training experience.

The University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine Psychiatry Residency Training Program continues to strive to meet the ever changing educational needs of our resident and fellow physicians. We are constantly working with our residents/fellows to find new and innovative ways to enhance our training program. It is our hope that this page will provide you with a peek into the amazing opportunities that our program has to offer, as well as provide you with some insight into what a day in the life of one of our residents might look like.

Once again, thank you for stopping by our page and taking the time to see the amazing opportunities that await our current and future residents/fellows. Please feel free to contact us should you have any further questions about the residency program or the training opportunities that exist.



Shawn Van Gerpen, MD
Psychiatry Residency Director


Tamara Vik, MD
Child and Adolescent Fellowship Director


Timothy Soundy, MD
Psychiatry Department Chair