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NAO is the national organization that supports and advances the Area Health Education Centers(AHEC) network in improving the health of individuals and communities by transforming health care through education.

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National AHEC Organization
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Oak Creek, WI 53154
Phone 888-412-7424
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Volume 11, Number 3 January 2010
Connecting Students to Careers, Professionals to Communities, and Communities to Better Health

NAO e-news is a quarterly electronic publication that is offered as a benefit to NAO members. Your feedback regarding this publication is important to us; please take a moment to send us your thoughts by clicking on Readers’ Forum and completing a form. NAO e-news is brought to you by the NAO Communication Committee.

In This Issue:

President's Letter

  1. Looking Ahead

Best Practices

  1. Arkansas

Health Careers & Recruitment

  1. Chart the Course Health Career Academy
  2. D.C. AHEC Scholar Program Combines Experience, Online Learning

Who’s Who

  1. West Virginia’s Hilda Heady Begins New Career

AHEC Highlights

  1. Georgia
  2. New York

Official Business/Upcoming Events

  1. National AHEC Recognition of Our Most Outstanding Projects and Individuals
  2. Summer 2010 Conference Planned in Las Vegas
  3. Donít Forget: NAO Quarterly E-news Deadline†March 16, 2010

President's Letter


1. Looking Ahead

Dear AHECers,

Happy New Year to you all. I hope you had an opportunity to relax and rejuvenate over the Holidays!

This latest edition of NAO e-news is, as usual, full of innovative, valuable, and timely updates from our AHEC programs and centers throughout the country. Please be sure to give it a read.

As healthcare reform wends its way through Congress, the work of the National AHEC Organization has never been more important. I am sure you’ve all been following the healthcare reform process closely, as I have, and, thanks to the NAO Public Policy Leadership Team, the National AHEC Organization has been able to provide critical and timely comment regarding NAO priorities to the conference committee. I am sure that we will see our labor bear productive results.

Equally important to and reaffirming of our national work is the recent Bureau of Labor Statistics Report that projects that more than 3 million jobs in the healthcare industry will be created this decade, ranging from highly paid neurosurgeons to home health aids making barely above minimum wage. Nearly 600,000 new jobs for registered nurses will be created by 2018, and more nursing jobs will be created in the next decade than in any other single profession. The median annual wage for a registered nurse is more than $62,000 — almost twice the average for all occupations, so clearly a field worth promoting and pursuing.

Despite perhaps the worst recession in a generation, the need for jobs in the healthcare field ceases to abate. Our national network of AHEC Programs and Centers is highly strategically and geographically positioned to play an influential role in the recruitment, retention and the continuing education of this projected healthcare workforce, which, to my mind, clearly reinforces the National AHEC Organization’s goal of “being the nation’s go-to organization for workforce development.” If ever there was a time for AHECs throughout the country to make a lasting impact, this is it!

It is a new decade, a new time in the United States, and potentially, a whole new world in terms of access to quality, affordable health care for millions of Americans. Our work has never been more important, and, on the cusp of healthcare reform finally being a reality in this country, there exists the opportunity to move a step closer towards meeting our vitally important mission.

I thank you all for your hard work and the commitment displayed every day to the health of your communities; keep up the great work! As we go forward in this new decade, the impact of the National AHEC Organization is only going to increase. We need all of you — those in rural areas, in urban areas, in academic healthcare settings and in centers in the most remote parts of the country — to continue to play a vital role in improving the health of individuals and communities by transforming healthcare through education.

Again, please accept my very best wishes for a Happy New Year.

Rob Trachtenberg, MS
NAO President


Best Practices


1. Arkansas
Expansion of UAMS AHEC Program
By Mark B. Mengel, MD, Vice Chancellor, UAMS Regional Programs and Executive Director, UAMS AHEC Program

REGP Mission figure.jpgBecause of an increase in Arkansas’ tax on tobacco products, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ AHEC Program was fortunate to receive an additional $3.4M in state funding in fiscal year 2010. The governor and state legislators (three-quarters of which had to vote for the bill in order for it to pass), were supportive of AHEC’s desire to close gaps in the health professions pipeline in Arkansas to encourage more Arkansas residents to select a career as a healthcare professional and practice in a rural area. Additionally, particularly rural legislators, wanted us to improve our clinical practice and adopt the Patient-Centered Medical Home, improving our delivery of preventive services and management of patients with chronic illness.

To date, monies have been used to expand our programs and mission in the following areas (see figure):

  • Add an additional first year Family Medicine Residency slot at four of our Family Medicine Residency Programs (located in El Dorado, Texarkana, Pine Bluff and Fort Smith);
  • Hire a pre-health professions recruiter at seven of our AHEC centers to work with junior high, high school and college students in rural areas. Our eighth AHEC, in Jonesboro, already possessed a pre-health professions recruiter);
  • Hire a community outreach coordinator at six of our AHEC centers to develop programs working collaboratively with the communities in diabetes education, prescription assistance, a school-based education program on healthy lifestyles for elementary school children called “Kids for Health,” and cardiovascular disease screenings at health fairs and local businesses (two of our centers already have robust outreach programs);
  • Develop a Division of Practice Improvement and Faculty Development, headed by Robert Price, Ph.D., which will plan development opportunities for our faculty, develop plans for each of our clinics to adopt Patient-Centered Medical Home innovations, and work with our newly financed Center for Clinical and Translational Research to involve our AHEC centers in translational research activities;
  • Expand our Rural Hospital Program into a Center for Rural Health, which will maintain its work with rural hospitals and workforce development, and expand into health professions recruiting for rural hospitals and support of health professions students on the UAMS campus who would like a career practicing in rural areas of the state.

The involvement of our eight center directors was key to mobilizing support among rural legislators for the tobacco tax increase, which also funded additional health programs like a new trauma network, other than the UAMS AHEC Program. We were extremely pleased by the show of support by rural legislators, and feel that by closing some of the gaps in the pipeline, we will be able to produce more health professionals for rural Arkansas.


Health Careers & Recruitment


1. Chart the Course Health Career Academy

By Jennifer Camp

Three Rivers AHEC in Columbia, Ga., wanted to create a program for high school seniors to enrich their educational experiences and to prepare them for entry into a post-secondary educational health-career program.  In fall of 2006, the Chart the Course Health Career Academy was born.  For the inaugural year, the requirements were that the students be high school seniors and have a strong interest in a health profession. Twenty students were accepted. 

Since then, the Academy has grown as well as the requirements. The students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average and have a letter of recommendation from a teacher or counselor.  For the 2009-’10 year, we accepted 25 students out of the 35 who applied.  Once accepted to the Academy, the students must complete at least 20 hours of work – half of the hours are obtained by attending Academy-sponsored events and half by coordinating healthcare-related volunteer experiences in a healthcare setting.  Academy-sponsored events have included:  The Bodies Exhibit in Atlanta along with tours and hands-on activities at area hospitals, physical rehabilitation centers, orthopedic clinics (cadaver dissection), hospice center, telemedicine site, Georgia Bureau of Investigation (autopsy observation), technical college, and simulation labs.  Upon successful completion of the Academy, the students are awarded a $250 scholarship after enrolling in a health-professions educational program.

For the first three years of the Academy, a total of $8,250 in scholarship money has been awarded to 33 students to assist them as they pursue their healthcare profession.  Where are they now?  A total of 30 are attending 14 schools in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Kentucky, with the following majors declared: 11 biology, 2 radiology tech, 1 C.N.A., 3 pre-med, 2 physical therapy, 1 health science, 8 nursing, 1 allied health assistant, and 1 pre-pharmacy. Two have completed their training and are working and 1 remains undecided.

The Academy is a tool of self-discovery and has had a great impact on these students. The Academy affords these students the opportunities to make connections in their healthcare fields of interest thus helping them “chart their course” to a health career.

For further information on the program, contact Jennifer Camp at

2. D.C. AHEC Scholar Program Combines Experience, Online Learning

The District of Columbia AHEC launched its D.C. AHEC Scholar Program with a Kick-Off event on Nov. 17, 2009.  The program is an innovative educational opportunity to prepare medical, nurse practitioner, and physician assistant students for clinical practice in primary care settings with a special emphasis on underserved populations.  The program combines experiential learning and online coursework for students who are interested in career-building experiences that focus on community health advocacy and social justice.  It was developed by faculty members from the AHEC partner schools in Washington, D.C. 

The inaugural cohort has 19 scholars who are a select group of diverse students in health professional programs across the District of Columbia.  This includes three medical schools, four nurse practitioner and two physician assistant programs.  Each cohort is two years in length.  During this time, in addition to the requirements of their educational programs, the each scholar is required to:

  • Perform 20 hours of community service.
  • Complete the AHEC online curriculum (nine modules, approximately 20 hours)
  • Complete a clinical clerkship at a local AHEC training site.
  • Produce a capstone project that is linked to a volunteer experience or work with a faculty on community-based research.
  • Participate in the annual AHEC Scholar Summit and present a capstone project.


Upon completion of the program, the scholars will be recognized at their respective commencement ceremony.  The scholars additional work will be a demonstration to their commitment to primary care in underserved communities and maybe helpful as they pursue post-graduate opportunities and loan repayment programs.

The D.C. AHEC Scholar Program is administered by Capital City AHEC (CC AHEC).  CC AHEC staff will work closely with the scholars to identify local outreach activities and provide mentoring and professional development experiences. 

More information on the program can be found on CC AHEC’s website at


Who’s Who


1. West Virginia’s Hilda Heady Begins New Career

Hilda R. Heady

The West Virginia AHEC Program extends a heartfelt thank you to Hilda R. Heady, MSW and program director for the West Virginia AHEC, for the leadership, loyalty and service she has provided to the statewide program.

Effective Jan. 8, Hilda began a new career path with Atlas Research LLC as Senior Fellow and Chair, Rural Health Research and Policy Group, and she will be joining the faculty of Georgetown University.  This is a promotion to a national stage, which will provide the opportunity for her to advance issues related to rural Veterans’ access to health and mental services in rural communities and the rural health workforce across the county.

Making a national impact is nothing new for Hilda.  Among her many accomplishments: she was 2005 President of the National Rural Health Association, and has served on that association’s Board of Trustees, Policy Congress and other committees for many years; she  served as the CEO of a small 58 bed rural hospital in West Virginia and provided the needed leadership to turn around this nearly bankrupt hospital; she has been actively engaged in NAO committees and activities, most recently co-chairing the Advocacy Work Group Subcommittee for NAO.  Her numerous awards include: recipient of the 2009 Distinguished West Virginian Award; 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award in Rural Health, NRHA; HRSA award for Outstanding Achievement in Expanding Community-Based Training in 2005; and the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Rural Health in 1996. She is a national speaker and has published many articles on rural health issues, such as recruitment and retention in rural areas. 

Hilda is also the Associate Vice President for Rural Health at West Virginia University, the Executive Director  of the West Virginia Rural Health Education Partnerships Program, and a Board Member of the West Virginia Rural Health Association.  She is known all around that state for visionary efforts and her commitment to community-based education, training and research.  Her presence will be missed.

Please join us in wishing Hilda great success in her new role.

(Submitted by program and center staff of the West Virginia AHEC Program)


AHEC Highlights


1. Georgia

The Anchor: Clinical Training in West Central Georgia
By Hannah Lydiate, Preceptor Coordinator, Three Rivers AHEC,Columbus, Ga.

In 2007, discussions began between Three Rivers AHEC and regional hospitals to create a clinical training track in Columbus and the surrounding counties that would bring medical students to town for an extended period of time while they complete clinical training, in order to help fill physician shortages in west-central Georgia. Georgia Campus-Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (GA-PCOM) was very new at the time, as its first class had just begun two years earlier.  Since Osteopathic medical schools emphasize training students to be primary care physicians, GA-PCOM seemed to be a natural fit.

In June 2009, Three Rivers AHEC welcomed 12 third-year GA-PCOM students to west-central Georgia as part of its Anchor program. They will remain in the region for the year while completing all of their core clinical rotations and many of their electives. Our goal is to help our students make connections that will draw them back to the region upon completion of residency.  They are a diverse group with many different experiences and backgrounds. Some of them are:

  • Non-traditional students — entering medical school after years in another field,
  • From bordering states,
  • From our local area,
  • A State Medical Education Board “Country Doc” scholar wishing to return to her hometown,
  • Interested in our local residency program and joined The Anchor to gain exposure,  
  • From rural south Georgia and interested in returning.

The AHEC has had a special opportunity to develop relationships with the students, something that isn’t possible when they’re here for one or two rotations during their third year in medical school.  The students have become involved in community volunteer organizations, joined recreational sports leagues, and attended AHEC organized continuing education programs. We even have a few students who will participate on a panel to answer questions from high school seniors who are interested in medical school. They have truly immersed themselves in the community. 

The response from the medical community has been profound. We are gaining physician interest each month, which will help us expand the program. Because of its success, GA-PCOM has asked that we expand next year. Beginning in June 2010, we will welcome 12 new third year students, and in addition, 12 senior students. This fourth-year group will be made up of current third-year students who wish to stay, and students who have heard great things about The Anchor and wish to join us.

The students completed an initial survey to gauge their interest in the area and will repeat that survey in December 2009 and May 2010.  We look forward to gathering and sharing those results as well as using them to improve and expand the quality of the program.


2. New York

Central and Rural AHECs Partner to Provide InService Solutions™ in Western New York State
 By Maria Hopko, Media and Communications Manager, CNYAHEC

The Central New York Area Health Education Center (CNYAHEC) and the Rural Area Health Education Center (R-AHEC) of Western New York have formed a partnership to launch InService Solutions, an online in-service training program, to health facilities in 12 counties in western New York State. 

CNYAHEC’s InService Solutions is an innovative on-line system for managing health care facilities’ in-service requirements.  Developed by healthcare professionals for healthcare professionals, InService Solutions frees healthcare facilities from the costly and time-consuming burden that often accompanies mandatory in-service training requirements.  Accessible on any computer with high-speed internet access, InService Solutions™ dramatically streamlines the testing, review, and reporting process while delivering high level training available online, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

R-AHEC is the first AHEC to join the InService SolutionsAHEC Partnership Program, which was launched in September to AHECs across the country.  The program allows AHECs nationwide to partner with CNYAHEC in offering InService Solutions to healthcare facilities within their region.  R-AHEC serves 12 counties in western New York. They are Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Steuben, Yates, Wayne, and Wyoming counties.

Through theInService Solutions™ AHEC Partnership Program, AHECs can effectively improve the quality of their regions’ healthcare workforce while addressing the demanding in-service training requirements healthcare facilities must meet.  The partnership program also provides AHECs with a valuable opportunity to increase their financial sustainability.

The InService Solutions™ AHEC Partnership Program was developed by CNYAHEC in response to inquiries from several AHECs expressing interest in offering InService Solutions in their own regions.  InService Solutions™ has been successfully marketed to healthcare facilities in the Central New York region since 2006.  Facilities using InService Solutions™ are very pleased with the system and have provided excellent feedback. 

Revenue generated from InService Solutionsis used to continue CNYAHEC’s mission of improving the supply, training, development, and distribution of health professionals throughout the Central New York region. 

For more information about the InService Solutions™ AHEC Partnership Program, please contact CNYAHEC’s Education and Training Manager, Erica Haray-Butcher, at (607) 756-1090, or via email at

CNYAHEC serves 14 counties in Central New York: Broome, Cayuga, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Herkimer, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, Schuyler, Seneca, Tioga, and Tompkins.


Official Business/ Upcoming Events


1. Nominations for NAO Awards: Deadline February 26, 2010

The NAO Awards Committee is now accepting nominations for the NAO Awards for Excellence, which will be presented at the 2010 National AHEC Conference in Las Vegas, NV. Soon you will be able to visit the NAO Web site ( and check the upcoming events section for the link to the awards page. You may nominate an individual for their outstanding commitment to NAO, or you may nominate yourself, as sometimes, you are the person/organization who best knows your work. Organizations and projects will also be considered. No individual or organization may receive more than one award in a given year and no program or initiative may receive an award more than once.

The deadline for nominations is Feb. 26, 2010.

For further information about the 2010 NAO AHEC Awards, please contact either of the Awards Committee co-chairs:

Sandy Ryman
Northeast Oregon AHEC
ph: 541-962-3801

Mary J. Sienkiewicz, MBA
New York State AHEC System
ph: (716) 898-4699



2. Summer 2010 Conference Planned in Las Vegas

The NAO 2010 Conference in Las Vegas is planned June 20-24. The basic conference registration fee of $425 covers participation in conference sessions and meal, but does not include additional events such as networking dinners or pre-conference workshops. Individuals registering now will be notified in spring when the full conference registration period opens so that you may sign up for the additional activities.The Flamingo Hotel is the official hotel of the conference and rooms are being held there. Reservations can be made online by clicking here or by calling the hotel at (800) 835-5686 and giving the reservation agent Group Code SFNO10. To obtain an advanced registration form, please contact NAO Customer Care at (414) 908-4953 (Ext. 450) or



3. Don’t Forget: NAO Quarterly E-news Deadline March 16, 2010

Please take the opportunity to submit articles, project information, updates, and other items of interest to the AHEC community. Submit articles to by March 16, 2010, for inclusion in the April 2010 quarterly e-news. Possible topics:

  • State highlights from both Programs and Centers (think USA Today format – brief updates!). We will highlight as many states as possible in each edition based on information received. Example: new programs implemented, Program/Center anniversary, new Center opening.
  • Personnel transitions or special interest stories.
  • Information on products or services Centers and Programs would like to make available to AHECs.
  • Resources of interest (grants, Web sites, agencies, manuals, books, etc).
  • NAO Special Project Updates
  • PDCG/CDCG Updates and items of interest: meeting dates, special activities.
  • Legislative Update
  • Items from State/Center Newsletters that might have broad interest to other AHECs. (Please edit the articles and review or explain local references which might not be understandable or important to a national audience).
Guidelines are available here.



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