Area Health Education Center

Become an AHEC scholar.

The AHEC Scholars Program accepts new applications May 1-July 30 each calendar year. Students interested in the AHEC Scholars program should apply via the application link.

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, the partnership between Meharry Medical College and Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center (MWCHC) established in September of 2018 supports the goals and strategic priorities of both organizations to increase diversity and distribution among healthcare professionals, enhance health care quality by training the physicians, dentists, clinicians and medical staff of the future and improve health care delivery to rural and underserved areas and populations by serving as Central Tennessee’s Area Health Education Center. For more information about TN AHEC, please visit their website.

For more information on becoming an AHEC scholar at MWCHC, contact Rosalind Shelton-Drummond at

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 and the opportunity to become part of a network of current and future leaders in health care
  • 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
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
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
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 
  • 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


Training experiences will be team-based and include a formal, didactic component that addresses the following eight 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
  7. Virtual Learning and Telehealth
  8. Connecting Communities and Supporting Health Professionals


  • 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
Download the AHEC Reference Letter template.