Sample is Family Doctor of the Year
By CHUCK CLEMENT, Staff Reporter
Dr. Richard Sample had considered a career as a pharmacist and even graduated from the College of Pharmacy at South Dakota State University before he turned toward another health-care field: practicing medicine as a family doctor.|
The Madison physician who grew up in the small town of Wakonda originally thought he would have a career as a pharmacist and follow in his father's occupational footsteps.
However, as he completed his pharmacy studies, Sample said some of his fellow students were considering the changes that were under way in the field and thinking about switching to practicing medicine. According to Sample, those considerations made him think about the changes he had witnessed in his hometown.
"I grew up in Wakonda, S.D., where a family-practice doctor practiced when I was a child," Sample said. "I noticed the impact on the community when this doctor ended his practice. People with illnesses and injuries had to drive to Vermillion or Yankton for help."
His eventual decision to enroll in medical school at the University of South Dakota brought Sample to his current practice as a physician with Interlakes Medical Center and a staff member with Madison Community Hospital.
After decades of treating patients and serving the community, Sample was recognized by his peers as the state's 2013 Family Doctor of the Year. He received the award from the South Dakota Academy of Family Physicians during a reception during the organization's winter seminar.
While he was still attending school, Sample's family moved to Sioux Falls and he met Barb, his wife of more than 40 years, during his final two years of high school. They found that they both were interested in pharmacy, and they both graduated from SDSU's School of Pharmacy.
But before Sample switched career directions and joined USD's School of Medicine, he decided to take care of his military commitment by serving two years in the U.S. Army. Military service sent him to a medical unit operating at the Sierra Army Depot, a small base in northern California. Sample remembers wearing many hats, including pharmacy officer, ambulance officer, safety officer, supply officer and assistant executive officer.
"Our hospital personnel were from all walks of life and from all areas of our country," Sample said. "I developed an appreciation for what it takes to make a medical unit work, as I was involved with these people and so many aspects of the clinic and hospital."
Sample flew back to South Dakota while on a three-day pass for an interview at USD. He said that one of the medical school's goals -- to educate doctors to practice medicine in South Dakota -- matched his goal to work as a family-practice physician in a rural area.
Sample's professional goals have taken him to his current medical service, which includes inpatient treatment, ambulatory care, emergency room coverage, obstetrics and nursing-home resident care. He finds many enjoyable aspects to working in the health-care field as a family practitioner.
"I enjoy working with babies, children, adolescents, adults, and people at the end of their lives," Sample said.
He also contributes toward the education of other health-care professionals. Holding a position as a clinical associate professor, Sample provides his knowledge and experience working as a medical school preceptor. He has helped medical students and family-medicine residents learn their skills and has mentored physician assistants, emergency medical technicians and nurse practitioners.
Sample said that South Dakota doctors who are involved in teaching provide real-world experience, and the work is a two-way experience.
"The rural rotations, for the most part, are in the areas where there are no specialists practicing full-time," Sample said. "It gives students a good look at what people need and expect in a little town.
``The students provide enthusiasm, curiosity and freshness. They ask `Why?' which keeps everyone on their toes and current with the latest information."