The mission of the AHEC program is "Connecting Students to Careers...Professionals to Communities...and Communities to Better Health." We will work to carry out this mission by exposing students in health careers through education and outreach; encouraging health professional students to work in areas that need greater access to primary care professionals, and enhancing professional development opportunities for health professionals.
The MI-AHEC program has far-reaching implications for quality health care in Michigan. With a network of regional centers, it will help ensure a well-trained health professions workforce and improved access to high quality primary care for all Michigan residents, including its most vulnerable populations. New funding from individual, corporate and foundation partners will support these goals.
While the federal grant provides seed funding to launch the structural components, MI-AHEC will require $4.5 million in matching funds over the next five years from community partners to move the initiative forward and support programmatic endeavors. Programmatic details will develop over time as the regional centers open and determine the needs of their communities. However, all MI-AHEC activities will remain centered around three areas of focus. These focus areas provide opportunities for donor support.
- Introduce students to health care professions and provide a pathway to enter the field. The MI-AHEC will expose students from kindergarten through college to careers in health care. Recruiting underrepresented minorities and disadvantaged students to the field will be a specific focus. Once interest is identified and cultivated, MI-AHEC will connect students to academic enrichment programs, preparing them for the academic requirements and rigors of professional training in health care.
- Increase clinical placements of health care career students in underserved areas. Students will participate in interdisciplinary training and learn from health care professionals practicing in underserved areas, an experience that can lead to a stronger commitment to underserved communities. The Indiana AHEC found that 45 percent of primary care students in AHEC clinical rotations reported a strong commitment to practice in medically underserved communities following graduation.
- Provide workforce development opportunities for health care professionals in urban and rural settings, medically underserved populations, and health professional shortage areas in Michigan. Resources, including Wayne State University's distance learning technology, will be leveraged to provide health care professionals in remote Michigan areas with access to training and continuing education. These professional development opportunities will ensure health care professionals have the knowledge, resources, and expertise to serve their local population.
The MI-AHEC initiative at Wayne State University has the potential to impact every resident of Michigan, improving health on a scale that extends statewide. Most especially, the program will serve vulnerable populations by positioning young students toward careers with tremendous growth potential and increasing the diversity and distribution of the health care workforce. Support from individuals, corporations and foundations with a vested interested in enhancing the quality of life in Michigan will help ensure that Wayne State University and its community partners will realize the full vision of the MI-AHEC initiative.