To meet the state's health and health workforce needs. The Nebraska AHEC Program provides educational programs and services that bridge academic institutions and communities to improve the health of Nebraskans with a focus on rural and underserved populations.
To help lead the transformation of health care education and services in Nebraska
Collaboration, Diversity, Excellence, Innovation, Integrity
- 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 Grand Island, Norfolk, Scottsbluff, and Crete areas, 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. Four centers operate as independent 501(c) (3)s and one center, the Southeast Nebraska AHEC, is hosted by Doane University.
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 K-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.
Focus Areas of Nebraska AHEC Centers
The Central Nebraska AHEC was funded in September 2001. Its key focus areas include distance education, pre-professional development, Hispanic community interpreter training, and interdisciplinary education opportunities.
The Northern Nebraska AHEC site, based in Norfolk, was funded September 2002. Their focus areas include early health career recruitment activities, a major survey of health profession continuing education needs in their area, and working with the reservation and off reservation American Indian populations to increase health career opportunities in the high schools, tribal, community and state colleges. UNMC’s Family Medicine Rural Training Track (RTT) began placing medical residents in Norfolk in July 2003. The NNAHEC supports the development of this residency program.
The Nebraska Panhandle AHEC site was funded September 2004 and is based in Scottsbluff. Their focus areas include collaboration of services to overcome the vast geographical distance with sub-optimal transportation and telecommunications. The NP-AHEC is expanding upon existing collaborations adding partners to meet the regional health care education needs. These partnerships are working to expand telecommunication opportunities for health care education. The NP-AHEC coordinates area health education activities, assists in recruitment of students (with a focus on those from under-represented populations) into health care professions, and evaluates health care needs, demands, and existing services to identify deficiencies and opportunities.
Omaha AHEC was funded in September 2005. The OU-AHEC works to create a heightened awareness of the health professions among area young people with a particular emphasis on minority students. They also work with local health and community agencies to address and fill the health needs of the community. Their focus is serving the underserved through community health education and screening fairs.