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Dr. Robert Hayes Memorial Scholarship


South Dakota Academy of Physician Assistants


Dr. Hayes was a South Dakota physician and health care pioneer.  He worked tirelessly to improve rural health care in South Dakota.  Additionally, Dr. Hayes was a long-time advocate of the four-year medical school at USD and was also instrument in getting legislation passed to create the physician assistant (PA) as a health occupation in the early 1970’s.

The law creating the physician assistant as a health occupation was one of the first of its kind in the nation and a good example of why Dr. Hayes was so often described as ahead of his time. 

Dr. Hayes received his undergraduate degree from St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Iowa, in 1943. He received his doctor of medicine degree from the University of Iowa in 1950.

He was involved in the private practice of medicine in Winner until 1966. From 1966-1967, he was medical officer in charge of a surgical team of the US Public Health Service located at Nha Trang, South Vietnam.  From 1966-1969, he was program coordinator for the South Dakota Division of the Nebraska-South Dakota Regional Medical Program and a professor of clinical medicine at the University of South Dakota School of Medicine in Vermillion.

He was state health officer and secretary of the Department of Health for South Dakota from 1970-1975. Subsequently, he was the director of the Physician Extender Program of the School of Medicine at the University of South Dakota, chief of professional services for the state Department of Health and a staff member for the US Veterans Affairs Hospital at Fort Meade. He was a medical advisor to the Wall Clinic from 1975 until his retirement in 1987.

Dr. Hayes served in the Navy in the South Pacific from 1943 through 1946. He was active with the South Dakota National Guard, attaining the rank of colonel before retiring after 43 years of military service. He was state surgeon for the South Dakota National Guard and a consultant to the Army Surgeon General’s Advisory Council for Reserve Officers prior to retirement.


2017 Scholarship Award             2018 Scholarship Award        2019 Scholarship Award

2020 Scholarship Award