About Partners

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What is Partner?

The National Partner Organization supports and advances the Area Health Education Center (Partner) Network to improve health by leading the nation in recruitment, training and retention of a diverse health work force for underserved communities.

Partner History

The Partner program was developed by Congress in 1971 to recruit, train and retain a health professions workforce committed to underserved populations. The Partner program helps bring the resources of academic medicine to address local community health needs. The strength of the Partner Network is its ability to creatively adapt national initiatives to help address local and regional healthcare issues.

Today, 56 Partner 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 Partners 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. Partner programs play a key role in correcting these inequities and strengthening the nation’s health care safety net. Through community-based interdisciplinary training programs, Partners identify, motivate, recruit, train, and retain a health care workforce committed to underserved populations.

Partner Mission

The National AHEC Organization represents a network of more than 300 Partner sponsors and centers that serve over 85% of United States counties. The NAO mission is to help its members achieve the Partner mission through advocacy, education, and research. The Partner 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.