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What the heck is an AHEC?

National AHEC Organization History

National AHEC History

The AHEC (Area Health Education Centers) 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 local and regional healthcare issues.
Today, 54 AHEC programs with more than 200 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 AHECs to improve health for underserved and underrepresented populations.



  • More than 379,000 students have been introduced to health career opportunities.
  • More than 33,000 students received more than 20 hours of health career exposure, information, and academic enhancements to prepare them for health professions training programs.


  • More than 44,000 health professions students received training at 17,530 community-based sites.
  • Nearly 8,000 of the community-based training sites were located in underserved areas, including over 3,500 in designated Health Professions Shortage Areas (HPSAs) and almost 1,000 at community health centers.
  • More than 60% of the health professions students were physicians (42%) or nurses (19%).


  • More than 482,000 health professionals received training through AHEC continuing education programs.
  • Almost half of the continuing education program participants were physicians (26%) or nurses (20%).
  • Awarded 1.1 million contact hours of continuing education programs.


NAO Committee on Research and Evaluation 2008, CPMS/UPR AHEC funding
at the federal level is through the Bureau of Health Professions, HRSA
Click here for more information on the National AHEC Organization.

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