The WWAMI Area Health Education Center (AHEC) works to improve the diversity, distribution, and quality of the health workforce in Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. The AHEC program relies on partnerships with communities in the states of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho (the "WWAMI" states) to promote health career pathways, create educational opportunities for students from junior high school all the way through professional and post-graduate training, and support health care providers in underserved populations.
The WWAMI AHEC continues its more than two decades of work as an integral part of the larger WWAMI program, a 30+ years old medical education program serving the five state region. Consistent with the overall aims of the federal AHEC program, the WWAMI AHEC supports activities that provide health workforce development and education away from large cities through partnerships with independent AHEC Centers. By sharing resources with the WWAMI medical program, the WWAMI AHEC is well-positioned to help improve the quality and distribution of all health professionals into the mostly-rural region.
Who we are
The WWAMI AHEC Program Office, based at the University of Washington School of Medicine, provides program support to the AHEC Centers through core program funding from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the University of Washington. Four AHEC Centers receive AHEC funding through the Program Office: the Wyoming AHEC, Idaho AHEC, AHEC-Eastern Washington, and the Western Washington AHEC. Although Alaska and Montana have their own AHEC programs, these two states’ AHEC programs remain part of the WWAMI AHEC network through affiliation agreements which preserve long-time partnerships among the WWAMI AHECs.
What we do
The WWAMI AHEC delivers many ongoing programs that support health workforce development in the regions and continually works to build partnerships and promote collaborations to initiate new efforts to support its objective.
Examples of AHEC activities:
- Supporting WWAMI Rural/Underserved Opportunities Program (R/UOP): This program, aimed at introducing medical students to rural/underserved practice throughout the five WWAMI states, is supported by the AHEC Centers in the region through their assistance linking students with rural practices and by providing logistic support for the student experiences.
- Delivering University-based education and service learning opportunities for all health sciences students that promote workforce diversity and experiences with underserved populations (Program Office).
- Providing Summer intensive clinical “internship” experiences for high school students in rural and underserved areas (AHEC-Eastern Washington and Western Washington AHEC).
- Linking community-based dentists with rural high school
- Supporting health professionals recruitment and retention programs (Idaho AHEC).
- Promoting increased collaboration among Critical Access Hospitals, Community Health Centers and Rural Health Clinics located within the same community (Montana AHEC).
- Encouraging Alaskans from disadvantaged backgrounds into health careers (Alaska AHEC)