- Report Published -
|Virginia Statewide Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Program Non-State Funding Report October 1, 2010|
|Virginia Statewide Area Health Education Centers|
|Appropriation Act - Item 293 (Regular Session, 2007)|
|The Appropriations Act directed Virginia’s AHEC Program to “submit a report by October 1 each year …that documents 1) the actions taken to secure non-state funding to support AHEC activities and 2) a cash match of at least 100 percent of the funds provided by the Commonwealth.”|
The Virginia Statewide AHEC Program was established in 1991 to increase access to primary care by Virginia’s citizenry. The program was developed in response to several recommendations from the Virginia Department of Health. This report highlights the accomplishments of the Virginia Area Health Education Centers over the past fiscal year. In spite of difficult budgetary times, the program has been able to support health professions students in community-based settings, provided continuing education to thousands of health professionals, served many elementary schools to college undergraduate students in our health career programs, and supported safety net providers with interpreter services and training. Additional historical background information is included as an appendix.
With their community infrastructure already in place, the Virginia AHECs are ideally suited to collaborate on many of the Governor’s Health Reform Commission’s (the Commission) recommendations. The Commission’s report made a number of recommendations related to health workforce that coincide with the mission of the national Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Program (DHHS, HRSA, Bureau of Health Professions). The Virginia AHEC program was established as part of the state Primary Care Plan developed by the Commissioner of Health in conjunction with the state’s medical schools and the Virginia Primary Care Association (now known as the Virginia Community Healthcare Association) to address primary care access issues in the Commonwealth’s underserved communities. Many AHEC programs throughout the country have created successful programs to help achieve the types of goals articulated in the Commission’s report. The key characteristics of these successful programs are clear and measurable state goals and sufficient state funding to achieve them.
The Virginia AHEC Program has a number of laudable achievements including serving as a national leader in providing language services, being an important catalyst in expanding telemedicine and technology services in rural areas and in exposing health professions students to practice in rural and underserved communities, often resulting in employment in those communities.
Unfortunately the Virginia AHEC Program has insufficient state financial support to match its federal funding or to capitalize on and replicate documented successes achieved in other locales.
The five mission areas of the Virginia AHEC Program are recruitment and retention, health careers promotion, clinical rotations, health promotion and administration. Direct patient care services must also be linked with recruitment, training, retention and health promotion programs in order to have a lasting effect. Current AHEC initiatives are designed to enhance the cultural competency and sensitivity of all health care providers, and to improve the recruitment and retention of underrepresented students choosing health careers.