In the late 1970s, the federal government established Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) to address health manpower distribution through community based initiatives. Mississippi AHECs link the resources of university health science centers with local planning, educational and clinical resources. This network of health-related institutions provides multidisciplinary educational services to students, faculty and local practitioners, ultimately improving health care delivery in medically underserved areas.
Area Health Education Centers (AHECs) are academic and community partnerships that provide health career recruitment programs for K-12 students and increase access to health care in medically underserved areas. AHECs address health care workforce issues by exposing students to health care career opportunities that they otherwise would not have encountered, establishing community-based training sites for students in service-learning and clinical capacities, providing continuing education programs for health care professionals, and evaluating the needs of underserved communities.
Since its doors opened in February 2009, Central Mississippi Area Health Education Center (Central MS AHEC) has focused on the development of programs to increase the quality and number of primary and allied health care providers in the central part of the state through the development of K-12 pipeline programs and the provision of quality continuing education activities. This has been done primarily through partnerships and collaborations with organizations sharing the same goals and objectives. Examples of these organizations include the Mississippi Job Corps, the Mississippi State Department of Health and Jackson State University.
Central MS AHEC supports and advances the improvement of the health of individuals and communities by transforming health care through education and training by offering the following: 1) Development of pipeline programs that provides educational programs for K-12 and undergraduate students that increase knowledge of healthcare and health care careers and 2) Providing continuing education to existing health care providers in an effort to improve the quality of care for all Mississippians.
Sandra Hayes, DrPH, MPH, MCS
Tougaloo College Owens Health and Wellness Center