Feb. 9, 2024: State Advocacy Update


A bill that passed out of the South Dakota Senate would expand existing confidentiality and other protections for physicians seeking care for burnout and wellness to medical students.

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As one of the first states in the nation to adopt legislation protecting physicians from inappropriate disclosure of treatment for burnout—along with potential stigma and punitive repercussions—South Dakota has already proven its dedication to helping physicians feel safe in seeking care. Senate Bill (SB) 136, which is strongly supported by the South Dakota State Medical Association and the AMA, “demonstrates South Dakota’s continued leadership in taking the next critical step: to protect medical students,” wrote AMA Executive Vice President and CEO James L. Madara, MD, in a letter (PDF) of support for the legislation. 

“As physicians continue to face long hours and unrelenting patient loads, there is an urgent need for support. The South Dakota Physician Well-Being Program is providing a support system and addressing their well-being needs. This legislation will expand a very successful program to include medical students,” said Denise Hanisch, MD, president of the South Dakota State Medical Association. “This year our residency programs opted residents into this program so they would become familiar with the resources available to them. Our intention is to do this for medical students as well. We’re working to create a culture of well-being within our physician offices and hospitals as well as within the clinical learning environment.” 

“By making it safer to seek care for medical students, SB 136 helps South Dakota become an even more attractive place to learn—and practice medicine,” wrote Dr. Madara. 

Learn more about AMA’s support for physicians’ health and well-being. 

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