Connecting students to careers, professionals to communities, and
communities to better health
Northern Vermont AHEC is one of two independent not-for-profit regional AHEC centers covering all 14 counties in Vermont. The network also includes the Vermont AHEC Program Office located at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont Office Of Primary Care.
Area Health Education Centers were created as part of a national strategy to address the mal-distribution of health professionals in 1972. The Vermont AHEC Network, with the support of HRSA, the Vermont Department of Health, and other community and academic partners, strengthens the primary care workforce by:
- Providing health career explorations programs for students throughout Vermont.
- Supporting the engagement of health professions students in community experiences to encourage future practice in Vermont.
- Reducing the debt of primary care practitioners in Vermont in exchange for service commitments through programs administered by the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont.
These strategies are informed by AHECs’ thirty years of experience addressing health care workforce shortages across the United States, and by numerous studies of students’ and physicians’ practice preferences. Physicians that are raised in, or have positive, formative experiences during their training in rural and underserved communities are significantly more likely to practice in rural, underserved areas than their counterparts who were from a non-rural background. We know this approach to be successful in Vermont because 41% of Vermont’s primary care physicians have received their training or completed their residency in-state.
Since 1996, the VT AHEC Network has engaged academic and community partners to improve the distribution, diversity, supply and quality of the health workforce in Vermont, especially in rural and underserved communities. VT AHEC Network works across the health workforce pipeline to reach from middle school students to practicing health professionals in the fields of medical, nursing, dental, and health sciences with programs including health careers awareness, summer programs, job shadow opportunities, pre-professional enhancement, clinical rotations in rural and underserved communities, interdisciplinary and community-based projects, and recruitment and retention programs. The VT AHEC Network is staffed by professionals with expertise in health care, public health, and education to carry out these programs successfully.