Posted on Thursday - 10/06/2022 to Up Close
Cover photo: courtesy of South Bay AHEC
By Brandy Ramos Nikaido
The California Statewide Area Health Education Center (AHEC), established in 1972 to recruit, train and retain a health professions workforce dedicated to underserved communities, was awarded $1.98 million by the Department of Health Care Access and Information (HCAI) to support and encourage students from underrepresented regions and backgrounds to pursue health care careers. California AHEC is located within and administered by the UCSF Fresno Department of Family and Community Medicine.
“We are incredibly happy to have received this funding in support of HCAI’s statewide goals and local aspirations to increase and diversify our health care workforce,” said Ivan Gomez, MD, chief of the UCSF Fresno Department of Family and Community Medicine. “This is an acknowledgment of AHEC’s 50-year successful track record and an opportunity to expand and extend our work.”
AHEC’s five-year proposal focuses on developing high school to post-baccalaureate pathway programs and education. Additional support is provided for development of summer undergraduate internship programs at various outpatient clinical sites and a high-intensity experience for a limited number of post-graduate fellows focused on careers in the health professions, specifically those working with federally qualified health centers (FQHCs).
California AHEC receives federal funding through state initiatives and from the Bureau of Health Workforce under the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). UCSF Fresno administers the funding and subcontracts with a network of 12 AHEC centers, serving 58 counties, located in under-resourced areas of the state to provide population-based education and training for students and health professionals. Each center, in collaboration with their regional advisory boards develops programs to respond to specific health care workforce needs of the community. The AHEC centers conduct their programs through many educational, clinical and community partnerships.
From 2018 to 2021, California AHEC provided professional education and support to 16,318 participants; health careers promotion and preparation to 15,893; and 1,922 in rotations, clerkships, internships and community experiences.
The UCSF Fresno-managed California AHEC was one of 20 organizations statewide to receive a grant. Overall, HCAI awarded $40.8 million to be administered through the Health Professions Careers Opportunity Program, which focuses on students entering the fields of primary care, behavioral health, geriatrics, nursing and oral and allied health.
In the San Joaquin Valley, Fresno State and Kern Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Residency Program also received grants. In addition, AltaMed Health Services Corporation, an AHEC center and FQHC network with more than 100 clinics, also received an award.