What is AHEC?
The National AHEC Organization supports and advances the Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Network to improve health by leading the nation in recruitment, training and retention of a diverse health work force for underserved communities.
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. The AHEC program helps bring the resources of academic medicine to address local community health needs. The strength of the AHEC Network is its ability to creatively adapt national initiatives to help address local and regional healthcare issues.
Today, 56 AHEC programs with more than 235 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.
Imbalances in our healthcare system result in marked inequities in access to and quality of healthcare services. This perpetuates disparities in health status and the under-representation of minority and disadvantaged individuals in the healthcare workforce. AHEC programs play a key role in correcting these inequities and strengthening the nation’s health care safety net. Through community-based interdisciplinary training programs, AHECs identify, motivate, recruit, train, and retain a health care workforce committed to underserved populations.
The National AHEC Organization represents a network of more than 300 AHEC program offices and centers that serve over 85% of United States counties. The NAO mission is to help its members achieve the AHEC mission through advocacy, education, and research. The AHEC mission is to enhance access to quality health care, particularly primary and preventive care, by improving the supply and distribution of healthcare professionals via strategic partnerships with academic programs, communities, and professional organizations.