The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (USDHHS/HRSA), recently announced funding for a 2-year, $1.3 million program awarded to the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) to develop a network of Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) throughout Illinois.
The Illinois Area Health Education Centers Network Program is a statewide initiative consisting of a program office located at the National Center for Rural Health Professions, University of Illinois Rockford, and a cooperating satellite program office in the Urban Medicine Program at the UIC College of Medicine Chicago. Other participating universities include Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Northern Illinois University, College of Health and Human Services and Illinois State University, Applied Social Research Unit.
The Illinois AHEC Network Program will establish two regional, rural centers in the first year – located in Polo and Centralia – followed by expansion to two new centers in the second year, including one in Chicago. The AHEC Network provides educational ‘pipeline’ programs to address the development and retention of the state’s health workforce in both rural and urban areas. The goal is to improve access to and quality of care for the underserved through health professions education, health careers development and community and public health promotion activities.
The establishment of the Illinois AHEC Network will be in cooperation with the recently funded HRSA “Rural Health Workforce Development Program” to increase the recruitment and retention of primary and allied health care providers in rural and underserved areas in southeastern Illinois.
The Illinois AHEC Network will join the national network of area health education centers in developing and offering innovative and long-term solutions to health and workforce disparities by linking students to careers, health professionals to communities and communities to better health.
For more information, please contact Kim Nielsen, AHEC Coordinator, National Center for Rural Health Professions at: firstname.lastname@example.org.