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Area Health Education Centers

About AHEC Programs
Area Health Education Centers (AHECs) are long-term educational strategies.  These academic and community partnerships train health care providers in sites and programs that are responsive to State and local needs. Health career enhancement and recruitment programs for K-12 students are emphasized.

The mission of the AHEC Program is to improve the supply, distribution, diversity and quality of the healthcare workforce, ultimately increasing access to health care in medically underserved areas.

AHECs link the resources of university health science centers with local planning and educational and clinical resources.  This network of health-related institutions provides multidisciplinary educational services to students, faculty and local practitioners, and ultimately improve health care delivery in medically underserved areas.

The AHEC program requires major changes both in the traditional method of training medical and other health professions students and in the relationship between university health science centers and community health service delivery systems.

States with AHEC Programs
As of October 1, 2007, there are 53 AHEC Programs and 221 affiliated AHEC Centers ongoing in 45 states and the District of Columbia.  The states of Kansas, Michigan, North Dakota, and South Dakota and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico do not have federally funded AHEC Programs or AHEC Centers.

Legislative Authority
The Health Professions Education Partnerships of 1998 reauthorized the AHEC Program (Basic AHEC and Model AHEC). The Basic AHEC Program was initiated in FY 1972; the Model State Supported AHEC Program was initiated in FY 1993. Funding is provided via federal cooperative agreements/grants and matching state and local funds.

Eligible entities include public or non-profit private accredited schools of medicine or osteopathic medicine or accredited schools of nursing, if no AHEC Program is in operation in a state.

AHEC Centers
AHEC Centers include nonprofit 501© (3) organizations, local community colleges, community hospitals, and community health centers, with 75% of the AHEC Program award is contracted out with AHEC Centers.

In a typical year, AHECs

  • Train 37,000 health professions students (17,000 medical students and 20,000 other  health professions students) in community-based sites;
  • Work with approximately 1,500 federally-funded community and migrant health center sites and other underserved area sites, 800 health departments and 180 National Health Service Corps sites;
  • Provide health career enhance and recruitment activities of 20 hours or more to 50,000 students grades 9-12; and
  • Provide continuing education to 326,000 local health care providers

Advisory Committee on Interdisciplinary, Community-Based Linkages (ACICBL)
The AHEC Program supports the Advisory Committee on Interdisciplinary, Community-Based Linkages (ACICBL), authorized under Section 756, Title VII, Part D of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act.  This Committee 1) provides advice and recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services concerning policy and program development and other matters of significance related to the programs and activities described under Title VII, Part D of the PHS Act; and 2) prepares and submits a report describing the activities of the Committee including findings and recommendations to the Secretary; the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.   Programs represented by the Committee include Area Health Education Centers, Geriatric Education and Training Programs, Allied Health and Special Projects, among others.  For additional specific information, refer to the ACICBL.


Updated March 18, 2008


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