Funds will be used to address persistent and critical health care workforce challenges in rural and underserved communities in the state.
The National Center for Rural Health Professions at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford (UICOMR) will receive a grant for nearly $6.5 million over the next five years to fund the Illinois Area Health Education Center Network (IL AHEC) Program.
IL AHEC includes nine centers throughout the state in rural areas and Chicago, with the program office for the statewide network housed at UICOMR. Hana Hinkle, PhD, MPH, serves as director of the network.
IL AHEC seeks to address the critical health workforce needs in rural and underserved communities in Illinois by providing access to training and education opportunities for anyone interested in pursuing health careers in Illinois’ most affected communities. Since 2010, the IL AHEC Network has reached more than 100,000 participants at all levels of training and education in the health professions.
The program’s funding provides critical training and education for high school and college students searching for careers in the rural and underserved health care workforce and for practicing health care providers. Programs offered through IL AHEC include job shadowing, classroom-based presentations and pipeline programs that allow students to train in communities throughout the state where they can experience health care delivery in areas of highest need. IL AHEC also offers AHEC Scholars, a competitive, two-year program for professional-level students from across the state.
IL AHEC is funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration, the federal agency charged with training health professionals and improving health care for people who are geographically isolated, economically disadvantaged or medically vulnerable.