Central Tennessee Area Health Education Center

AREA HEALTH EDUCATION CENTERS (AHEC) 

The Area Health Education Center (AHEC) 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 address local and regional healthcare issues.

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. In turn, these partnerships and networks support strategic priorities to increase diversity and distribution among healthcare professionals, enhance health care quality, and improve health care delivery to rural and underserved areas and populations.

Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center (MWCHC) is committed to training the physicians, dentists, clinicians and medical staff of the future. Students range from high school students who are exploring healthcare careers to post graduate students entering residency programs. Students come from colleges and universities across Tennessee including: Austin Peay State University, Belmont University, Brightwood College, Fisk University, Meharry Medical College, Miller-Motte Technical College, Nashville State Community College, Tennessee State University, Tennessee Technology Center and Vanderbilt University. In September 2018, MWCHC entered into a partnership with Meharry Medical College to serve as Central Tennessee’s Area Health Education Center (AHEC).  For more information about Meharry Medical College AHEC, please visit their website at http://www.mmc.edu.

Other AHEC initiatives include:

  • Workforce Development and Distribution: MWCHC will contribute to a statewide workforce development plan designed to recruit and retain health professionals in practice in rural and urban medically underserved areas (RUMUAs) and will participate in at least two health workforce events per year to recruit and place health professionals in RUMUAs in Central Tennessee.
  • Continuing Education on cutting-edge topics will be sponsored to ensure that the health care workforce is prepared to deliver high quality care in a transforming health care delivery system with an emphasis on rural and underserved areas and communities.The AHEC Scholars Program is a unique interprofessional training opportunity designed to prepare a diverse, culturally competent health care workforce that is representative of the communities it serves. The program involves a two-year commitment. Each year will include 40 hours of team-based, interprofessional clinical experience and a 40-hour didactic program that addresses six core topics: Patient-Centered Clinical Practice Transformation; Interprofessional Education, Cultural Competence, Social Determinants of Health, Behavioral Health Integration, and Current/Emerging Health Issues.

Scholars Program Goals

  • Prepare 15 students in each of the three regional AHECs for practice in primary care in rural and/or underserved areas in Tennessee.
  • Provide didactic training on core topics key to effective practice in a transforming health care delivery system.
  • Provide interdisciplinary, team-based clinical training experiences for health professions students.

Eligibility

  • Have at least two years remaining in their required health professions program.
  • Be in good academic standing in a graduate level health professions program (e.g., medicine, dentistry, nursing, social work, physician assistant, public health, and other allied health professions). 
  • Commitment to participate in the two-year AHEC Scholars program.

The AHEC Scholars Curriculum

The curriculum includes a defined set of clinical, didactic, and community-based training activities (40 hours didactic and 40 hours clinical training per year). It is designed to promote knowledge and skill in providing culturally competent care and health equity through didactic and experiential learning.

Training experiences will be team-based and include a formal, didactic component that addresses the following six Core Topic Areas:
1) Interprofessional Education
2) Behavioral Health Integration
3) Social Determinants of Health
4) Cultural Competency
5) Practice Transformation
6) Cultural and Emerging Health Issues.

Requirements
Students interested in the AHEC Scholars program should complete and apply to the regional AHEC Coordinator.

Accepted AHEC Scholars will:

  • Complete a 40-hour (at least) clinical experience in a rural or medically underserved area during each of their two years as a Scholar.
  • Complete the 40-hour didactic curriculum, including all required readings, assignments and group discussions, during each of their two years as  a Scholar.
  • At the end of two years, if the Scholar has not completed the health professions degree program, he/she will be able to continue as a Scholar only on an approved basis.
  • If a student becomes unenrolled at the institution in which he/she is an AHEC Scholar, the student will not be allowed to continue participation unless he/she transfers to a school that already has an established AHEC Scholars Program in Tennessee and remains enrolled in a health professions degree granting program.

What are the benefits of becoming an AHEC Scholar?

  • $500 Participation Award upon completion of Year 1 requirements and an additional $500 Participation Award upon completion of Year 2 requirements.
  • Opportunities to participate in training programs designed for MWCHC staff providers.
  • Increased understanding of attitudes, such as mistrust, subconscious bias, and stereotypes which practitioners and patients may bring to the patient encounters.
  • Heightened awareness of the existence and magnitude of health disparities, including the multi-factorial causes and the many solutions required to diminish or eliminate them.
  • Skills to effectively communicate and negotiate across cultures, languages, and literacy levels, including the use of key tools to improve communication.
  • Certification as a TN AHEC Scholar, which sets the student apart in an increasingly competitive work environment.
  • Information about Loan Repayment Programs.
  • Opportunity to become part of a network of current and future leaders in health care.

Interested in becoming an AHEC Scholar?

Complete the AHEC Application, below, then submit as indicated. For additional information, please contact Natasha Yokley, AHEC Scholars Project Coordinator at nyokley@mwchc.org.

The TN AHEC is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Bureau of Health Workforce, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, under Grant No. U77HP03040. Any information, contents, and conclusions are those of the authors and should not be construed as the official position or policy, nor should any endorsement be inferred by HRSA, or the U.S. Governemnt.

 

Download application

Download your AHEC application here.

Download Reference

Download your letter of reference here.