The Alaska Center for Rural Health (ACRH) was created in 1987 by rural health care providers, educators, and administrators. Its mission is to help strengthen systems to deliver comprehensive and culturally relevant health care to rural Alaskans. It serves all aspects of Alaska’s rural health system: Native and non-Native, physical and behavioral, within all disciplines as they struggle to address our state’s health delivery problems.
AHEC is a statewide university-industry partnership focused on strengthening Alaska’s health workforce. Specifically, it works in three distinct areas:
* Encouraging Alaskans from disadvantaged backgrounds into health careers;
* Coordinating clinical rotations, to encourage health professions students to secure employment in underserved areas and with underserved populations; and
* Provision of Continuing Education/Continuing Medical Education in underserved areas, towards the retention of those health care workers.
The AHEC Program Office contracts with industry partners and health organizations that have created AHEC Centers, serving distinct geographic areas. In its first three years of funding, the Alaska AHEC Program has three partners: the Yukon Kuskokwim-AHEC at YKHC, Fairbanks-Interior Alaska-AHEC at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, the South Central-AHEC at the Providence Alaska Learning Institute (PALI), and the SouthEast AHEC at the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). With small contracts, AHEC is concurrently supporting workforce development planning and programming at Ilisagvik College and Maniilaq Corporation. The AHEC Program Office and Centers work to synergistically bridge the gap between professional training schools and under-served populations.
The AHEC funding enables ACRH to engage in strategic planning with a wide variety of health agencies. The AHEC Program Office and its Centers convene regularly to share ideas, brainstorm new activities or new approaches to current activities, and support each other. Each AHEC Center serves a distinct geographic area with different resources and needs. Interestingly, each AHEC Center brings very different experience and capacity to the table as well. With shared funding and a common goal, the Centers support each other’s learning, growth, and capacity.