The Eastern Shore Area Health Education Center (AHEC) is a private, non-profit, 501(C) 3 organization, which became operational in 1997. Governed by a 16 person Board of Directors, AHEC services the nine counties comprising Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
AHEC’s goal is to increase the number of health care providers who provide services in rural and underserved areas and eliminate health disparities among diverse populations of the Eastern Shore by providing and coordinating programs that improve the health status of all. In the face of rapidly changing demographics in the region, AHEC leverages federal, state and local resources to support health careers promotion, health professions student rotations in underserved rural communities, continuing education, and community health promotion activities.
Since 1997, Eastern Shore AHEC has achieved important impacts in the region: significant increase in rural rotation site development with 162 participating preceptors; 17,000 health professionals participated in the Continuing Education program; delivery of health careers educational activities for 63,000 K-12 students; development of a rural oral health outreach program that has increased access to oral health services to over 35,000 low-income children; conducted interdisciplinary training for 800 health professions students in geriatric settings; 16,000 interlibrary loans have been fulfilled; and 1,869 participants have successfully completed Aging Simulation Sensitivity Training since 2005.
WHAT IS THE AHEC PROGRAM?
The AHEC Program began in the early 1970s when many areas of the United States were faced with severe shortages of health care professionals, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and public health workers. Recommendations issued by the Carnegie Commission addressed how colleges and universities could help ease these shortages.
One of the Commission’s recommendations led to the development of Area Health Education Centers (known as AHECs). In 1972, Congress awarded funds to establish AHEC programs in 11 states. Today, there are 56 programs and over 235 centers in almost every state and the District of Columbia.
Maryland Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) Program
The MAHEC Program and its first center, Western Maryland Area Health Education Center (WMAHEC), were established in 1976. The Eastern Shore Area Health Education Center (ESAHEC) was the second center established in 1995 and the third was the Baltimore Area Health Education Center (BAHEC) in 2002.
The Mission of the Maryland AHEC is to improve the health status of Marylanders through community educational partnerships that foster a commitment to enhancing healthcare access in the rural and urban underserved areas of the state.