About Missouri Area Health Education Centers
The AHEC Mission: To enhance access to quality health care, particularly primary and preventative care, by improving the supply and distribution of health care professionals through community/academic educational partnerships.
The AHEC (Area Health Education Centers) program was developed by Congress in 1971 to recruit, train and retain a health professions workforce committed to underserved populations.
AHEC helps to bring the resources of academic medicine to bear in addressing local community health needs. By their very structure, AHECs are able to respond in a flexible and creative manner in adapting national health initiatives to the particular needs of the nation's most vulnerable communities.
Today, 50 AHEC programs with more than 200 centers operate in almost every state and the District of Columbia. Approximately 120 medical schools and 600 nursing and allied health schools work collaboratively with AHECs to improve health for underserved and under-represented populations.
Through community-based interdisciplinary training programs, AHECs identify, motivate, recruit, train, and retain a health care workforce committed to underserved populations.
On October 1, 1988, the Missouri AHEC began functioning in Kirksville, Missouri at the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (KCOM), a private single-discipline, rural osteopathic medical school. Starting from a regionally focused 27-county project directed by KCOM, the MAHEC has grown into a statewide system involving three cooperating medical schools and numerous other health professions schools and serving all 114 of Missouri's counties. The KCOM-AHEC Program Office and the Northeast Missouri AHEC are now in their twentieth year of operation and the Southeastern Missouri AHEC in its eighteenth year. As a result of KCOMs success in building these two AHEC regions, the MAHEC was able to develop a strong collaborative relationship with the University of Missouri at Columbia, and in 1994, the MU-AHEC Program Office and the Mid-Missouri AHEC were funded and established.
The Northwest and Southwest AHEC regions were adopted into the MAHEC in 1996. The addition of these two regions significantly strengthened the MAHEC statewide presence and greatly improved its potential for impact and long-term self-sufficiency at the state and local levels.
In November 1997, the East Central Missouri AHEC office began developing collaborative partnerships with St. Louis University (SLU), Washington University, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Harris-Stowe State College, and other area institutions for AHEC activities. In 2001, a successful application from SLU for federal core funding now supports the SLU Program Office and the expansion of services available through the East Central Missouri AHEC.
In 1998, AHEC activities were initiated in the Kansas City area through agreements with the University of Health Sciences (UHS) and the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). The WCMO AHEC is now hosted by the Local Investment Commission of Kansas City. Both centers are successful with strong executive directors.
The MAHEC Operating Board heads the MAHEC operational structure. The board was formed through an agreement between A.T. Still University and the University of Missouri-Columbia that called for the collaborative operation of the MAHEC. St. Louis University was added to the Operating Board when they received Basic funding in 2001.
The MAHEC Operating Board consists of twelve members: three from the University of Missouri-Columbia, three from A.T. Still, three from St. Louis University, and three regional center directors. The position of President is annually rotated by the Program Office directors.
The Governor signed legislation on July 9, 2004, recognizing the Missouri AHEC program. MAHEC has since become incorporated. Application for 501(3)c status has been initiated.
Rural Missouri faces several challenges meeting the healthcare needs of its people including:
- A declining economic base
- Large numbers of elderly and poor
- Rising healthcare costs
- A shortage of health professionals
To enhance access to quality health care, particularly primary and preventative care, by growing and supporting Missouri's healthcare workforce.