AHEC HistoryArea Health Education Centers (AHEC), a national network of Academic-Community partnerships, were first proposed by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education in the early 1970's as a means of addressing the maldistribution of health professionals in medically underserved areas throughout the nation. All AHEC Programs strive to improve the supply, distribution, diversity and quality of the health care workforce, ultimately increasing access to health care in medically underserved areas. Presently, there are AHEC Programs in 44 states.
Texas AHEC Program Offices provide state-wide coverage, serving 254 counties in Texas. Each Program Office covers a specific geographic region of the state (Texas AHEC Service Region), and is hosted by an academic institution:
- East Texas AHEC, a program of The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
- West Texas AHEC, a program of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
- South Texas AHEC, a program of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
The three programs have 19 regional centers, hosted by community organizations, to foster the development of the local health care workforce.
Each center develops activities that link community resources with AHEC and academic partners to:
- help young people and career-changing adults obtain information about health career education so they can become health professionals in their communities;
- provide real-life educational experiences in communities for medical and other health career students;
- promote practice entry (recruitment), professional development and retention of health professionals in underserved areas through continuing education, information dissemination, support for professional networking;
- promote healthy behaviors to children and adults through diverse programs tailored to meet communities needs.
Funding for AHECs comes primarily from three sources: 1) federal grants, 2) state line-item budget support, and 3) other grants, contracts and philanthropic private/public resources.