What is AHEC?

Through the Rural Health Education Network Office, University of Nebraska Medical Center (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 under the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) in September 2001.

The Nebraska AHEC Program is based at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and is implemented through five regional centers; four rural centers located in Kearney, 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 deliver high quality, efficient, effective and flexible services that meet local needs of all 93 counties in Nebraska.

The Nebraska Area Health Education Center Network works throughout Nebraska to improve access to basic healthcare by linking local community groups with the resources of UNMC and other health professions training programs. Thus, AHEC improves access to healthcare by:

  • Working with Nebraska's public schools to provide health career programs for grades 8-12.
  • Developing and supporting community training opportunities for health professions students.
  • Providing continuing education that improves the care received by vulnerable populations.
  • Partnering with community organizations to address local health issues.

HRSA Update

HRSA recently implemented changes to improve the outcomes of several programs, including AHEC. Across the country, AHEC will accomplish our work by focusing on the following three priorities:

  1. Improving workforce distribution.
  2. Increasing the number of diverse and culturally competent primary care providers.
  3. Supporting health care practice transformation.

The Nebraska AHEC Network will continue to provide a link between health training programs and Nebraska's rural and urban underserved areas by exposing students to health career options, enhancing community-based and clinical training opportunities for students, and addressing issues related to health care access and quality through continuing education for primary care providers. Moving forward though, HRSA requires that the AHEC program have a greater focus on students enrolled in health profession training programs and providing them enhanced community-based and clinical training opportunities in the state's rural and urban underserved communities. The Nebraska AHEC Network will support health career education to students and continuing education for providers through enhanced partnership with existing efforts.