AHEC Scholars and Rising Scholars

Both the AHEC Scholars and Rising Scholars programs are now accepting applications at bit.ly/AHECScholarsApplication.



  • Basic Information
    AHEC Scholars

    AHEC Scholars is a two-year program designed to supplement and broaden a student’s healthcare training. An abreviated form of the program, requiring half as many hours, is available to students enrolled in a degree or certificate program of less than two years’ duration. AHEC Scholars covers six topic areas related to the practice of healthcare.

    Each year, students are required to complete 40 hours of classroom or online training and another 40 hours of community-based learning out in the field. Many students will complete their community-based learning in a small rural community, but there is also an option for working with urban underserved populations. We hope, but do not require, that students return to the same community in their second year for followup and expansion on their projects. Students may be able to double-count some academic coursework to meet AHEC Scholars requirements.

    The community-based learning takes place in a clinic, hospital or community organization. Students work side-by-side with healthcare professionals on a project which may vary from year to year and student to student. After their first 40 hours of community-based learning students will present their projects for the general public. There will also be a final presentation at the end of the entire program.

    Students in their second year serve as mentors for first-year students and may also have the option of serving as teaching assistants in some courses. Second-year students also have more discretion regarding placements for the community-based learning.

    Who can participate?

    Students must be currently enrolled in a degree- or certificate program related to healthcare. As of February 2018, AHEC recognizes all the following programs:

    • Behavioral Health Aide
    • Certified Nursing Assistant
    • Clinical Psychology
    • Community Health Aide/Practitioner
    • Community Health Worker
    • Dental Assisting
    • Dental Health Aide/Therapist
    • Dental Hygiene (AAS, BS)
    • Diagnostic Medical Sonography
    • Emergency Medical Technician
    • Health Sciences
    • Human Services (AAS, BHS)
    • Medical Assisting
    • Medical Coding
    • Medical Lab Science (AAS, BS)
    • Medicine
    • Nursing (AAS, BS, MS)
    • Nursing Practice (Doctorate)
    • Occupational Therapy
    • Paramedical Technology
    • Pharmacy
    • Physical Therapy Assistant
    • Physician Assistant
    • Public Health
    • Radiologic Technology
    • Social Work
    • Speech-Language Pathology
    • Veterinary Technician
    Rising Scholars

    AHEC also offers the Rising Scholars program for students in high school or undergraduate pre-major studies. The Rising Scholars program is identical with the AHEC Scholars program, except that the community-based hours are reduced and the course curriculum is less technical.

  • About the Curriculum
    Basic Curriculum Requirements

    AHEC Scholars is a two-year program, including a total of 80 hours in classroom- or online training plus another 80 hours per year of community-based learning. Students will typically do 40 hours of each category
    in each year.

    AHEC Scholars is set up with a modular format, so different students can complete different coursework to satisfy the curriculum requirement. Students can assemble any collection of modules they choose so long as they meet all the criteria below. Most of the curriculum offerings are available online but some may require face-to-face interaction. Not all courses will be accessible in all places. Contact the nearest AHEC regional office for the most up-to-date list of courses available in your area.

    Curriculum Checklist for Complete Two-Year Program

    At least 80 hours of online or classroom modules, including all of the following:

    • Orientation module
    • At least 5 hours from each of the six topic areas:
      • Interprofessional education
      • Behavioral health integration
      • Social determinants of health
      • Cultural competency
      • Practice transformation
      • Current and emerging health issues


    Two poster- or video presentations summarizing project to date:

    • Presentation 1 (after 40 hours of community-based learning)
    • Presentation 2 (after 80 hours of community-based learning)
  • About the Community-Based Learning

    Map of AHEC Scholars sites across AlaskaThis map shows communities that potentially participate in AHEC Scholars. Not all communities will participate in any given year. Communities are added or removed from the available list depending on staffing, finances, student capabilities and community demand.

    Community-Based Learning

    “Community-based learning” is essentially field experience. Students will spend 40 hours per year in a clinic, hospital, community organization, government agency, etc., learning how healthcare is provided in the real world outside the classroom. AHEC Scholars provides two tracks for the community-based learning.

    The rural track sends students out to small towns and villages across Alaska. Small communities may have no more than one or two healthcare providers, so the scope of the job is very wide. Students will typically have a lot of latitude to choose their own projects and a lot of freedom to carry them out. On the downside, resources to support the projects are limited. AHEC will cover the costs for students’ transportation, food and housing during the rural experience and pays a small stipend to cover incidental costs.

    The urban underserved track addresses city populations which suffer from lack of access to affordable or effective care. The community-based learning takes place in Anchorage, Fairbanks or Juneau. AHEC pays a small stipend to help defray living expenses but students will need to manage their own housing and food.

    All students will be expected to come up with a project idea before departing for their community-based experience. The experience is your chance to be creative in developing your own skills as a practicing professional, as well as producing a product that can be shown to academic reviewers and potential employers. It is also a chance to leave a lasting mark on the community you visit. Students have some freedom in choosing a project, but may want to consider the following:

    • Community assessment
    • Public outreach
    • Clinical research
    • A report on the clinical rotation or practicum experience


    Factors to consider in designing a project include sustainability, available resources, impact, and the limits of your own time, skill and energy.

    Students will make two public presentations to show the results of their work, one for each year of the AHEC Scholars program.

  • Requirements for Admission
    AHEC Scholars

    Students must meet all the following requirements for admission to the AHEC Scholars program:

    • Be currently enrolled in a healthcare degree- or certificate program
    • Complete the online application at bit.ly/AHECScholarsApplication
    • After being accepted, students will need to complete the following:
      • Online registration form
      • Media release form
      • Photograph
      • Background check through the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS). This step can take considerable time, so students are advised to get started quickly.
      • Show proof of vaccination against Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR); Varicella (Chicken Pox) and a negative test for tuberculosis (TB) within 12 months prior to beginning the program. The TB test must be either a single-stage Quantiferon Gold test or a two-stage skin prick. The following vaccinations are strongly recommended, but not required: Hepatitis B; Tetanus, Diptheria and Pertussis (Tdap); current strains of influenza (flu).
    Rising Scholars

    Requirements for admission to the Rising Scholars program are the same as for the AHEC Scholars program, except that students do not need to be currently enrolled in a healthcare degree- or certificate program.

  • Contact Us
    For more information

    Contact Dave Berry at drberry@alaska.edu or call 907-786-4853.




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