- Develop and sustain a robust and diverse local health workforce in Nebraska by engaging youth and others to complete health professions training programs and enter health careers
- Recruit health students to consider working in rural underserved areas of the state by providing clinical experiences in these communities during their training
- Retain health professionals in these regions by offering accessible continuing education and professional development opportunities
About Area Health Education Center (AHEC)
Through the Rural Health Education Network (RHEN) Office, UNMC applied for and received federal funding to establish Area Health Education Centers (AHECs) in Nebraska. UNMC received its first AHEC funding from the Division of State, Community and Public Health within the Bureau of Health Professions (BrHP) under the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) in September 2001. These funds allowed the development of a program office at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, which is housed in the Department of Family Medicine within the College of Medicine under the direction of Dr. Michael Sitorius.
The AHEC Program is based at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and is implemented through five regional centers; four rural centers located in Kearney, Norfolk, and Scottsbluff, as well as one urban center located in Omaha. Regional centers enable AHEC to carry out local programs with efficiency and provide statewide local services to provide high quality, efficient, effective and flexible services that meet local needs. Collectively, the five centers provide services to all 93 counties in Nebraska. Two centers operate as independent 501(c) (3)s and two centers are hosted sites. Omaha Area AHEC is hosted by the University of Nebraska Omaha and Central Nebraska AHEC is hosted by the University of Nebraska Kearney. Southeast Nebraska AHEC is currently in transition as a new site is currently being located.
The Nebraska Area Health Education Center Network works throughout Nebraska to improve access to basic health care by linking local community groups with the resources of the University of Nebraska Medical Center and other health professions training programs.
AHEC improves access to health care by:
- Recruiting minority students into the health professions. AHECs work with Nebraska's public schools to provide health career programs for grades 8-16.
- Partnering with community organizations to address local health issues. AHECs have helped local groups secure federal and private funding by ensuring and effective group process.
- Providing continuing education that improves the care received by vulnerable populations.
- Developing and supporting community training opportunities for health professions students. The AHEC Program has been instrumental in helping UNMC place more of its students in underserved communities.
- Developing and implementing the Nebraska AHEC Scholars Program for health profession students designed to give students a deeper understanding of rural and urban health care, caring for underserved populations, and the importance of transformation in a clinical setting.