What the Heck is AHEC?
- Federally and state funded organizations
- Designed to promote and support health professions
- By educating, recruiting and retaining practitioners
- In order to reduce shortages and increase care for those in underserved areas throughout the United States
The AHEC (Area Health Education Centers) program was developed by Congress in 1971 to recruit, train and retain a health professions workforce committed to underserved populations. AHEC’s primary mission is to improve access to quality health care in rural and disadvantaged urban environments by facilitating and creating partnerships with communities, multiple academic institutions, and health care professionals that would otherwise not exist. The strength of the AHEC Network is its ability to creatively adapt national initiatives to help address local and regional healthcare issues. Today, 54 AHEC programs with more than 200 centers operate in almost every state and the District of Columbia. Approximately 120 medical schools and 600 nursing and allied health schools work collaboratively with AHECs to improve health for underserved and under-represented populations. The AHEC program helps bring the resources of academic medicine to address local community health needs.
The National Area Health Education Center Organization is the national organization that supports and advances the Area Health Education Center (AHEC) network in improving the health of individuals and communities by transforming health care through education. Their goal is to connect students to careers, professionals to communities and communities to better health.
The Indiana AHEC Network is coordinated by the IU School of Medicine’s Department of Family Medicine. A statewide Advisory Board of more than 40 health care and health professions stakeholders guides program development. Each regional AHEC is guided by a community advisory board. In Indiana’s medically underserved communities, shortages of primary care health professionals result in poorer health and increased health care costs. To learn more about Indiana AHEC Network go to http://ahec.iupui.edu/.
In Indiana, AHECs were established in 2001. Funding was provided by the Federal Government through its Health Resource and Services Administration (HRSA). There are eight regional AHECS in Indiana. Each is partnered with a variety of health profession programs. Since 2001, the AHECs of Indiana have collectively reached more than 20,000 K-12 students through its outreach programs, connected 1,500 or more health professions students to service learning opportunities in medically underserved communities, and provided access to continuing education programs for some 1,600 health professionals working among rural and urban Hoosiers.