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Office of Health Research and Development


Area Health Education Centers

We contract with hospitals in those communities to hire the staff (with our approval) and to provide the space. Each AHEC has 6-7 staff and a medical library. The staff assigns medical and other students to practitioners in the area, interact with the community faculty, obtain evaluations, work with schools to promote an interest in health careers, promote community health, coordinate CME activities, and sometimes interact with legislators when appropriate. This is a strong program and one of the best in the country. Medical students spend one month in the third year and one month in the fourth year in an AHEC site. There is also a Health Education Training Center component which addresses the needs of special and minority populations in these areas.

The University of Kentucky Area Health Education (AHEC) Program is a collaborative effort with the University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center, and eight regional centers to affect positively the distribution of health professionals throughout the Commonwealth. The centers, or AHECs, affiliated with the University of Kentucky are strategically located at Morehead (Northeast AHEC), Mt. Vernon (Southern AHEC), and Hazard (Southeast AHEC). An additional AHEC in Newport (North Central) was established in July 1999 to encompass the north central portion of Kentucky. Each AHEC is directed by an Advisory Board composed of community leaders and health care practitioners representative of the area. AHECs were designed to coordinate student rotations in offsite practices in an effort to encourage more doctors to practice in underserved areas and to give students some appreciation of what it is like to practice in a rural area. The AHECs are funded by both federal and state funding. The AHECs are staffed by a Center Director and support staff that work with the universities, community medical facilities and practicing health professionals to accomplish the following goals:


  • Provide resident and student educational rotations away from the university medical centers;
  • Emphasize, promote, and support primary care;
  • Assist in the recruitment and retention of needed health professionals;
  • Maintain library/learning resource centers and networks that serve students, preceptors and practicing health care professionals in the areas;
  • Provide health education to communities through health awareness and health promotion programs;
  • Develop health careers awareness programs for youth, especially minority and disadvantages students, and recruit participants for health professions preparation workshops;
  • Increase awareness of the health care needs of Kentuckians through university faculty and local healthcare practitioners working together;
  • Provide continuing education programs at the local and regional level.

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Page last updated Friday, April 09, 2010