The Vermont AHEC Network
Vermont Area Health Education Centers (VT AHEC) is a network of academic and community partners working together to increase the supply, geographic distribution, diversity, and education of Vermont’s health care workforce. The aim of the VT AHEC is to provide statewide programs that support an appropriate current and future health workforce so that all Vermonters have access to preventive and primary health care, including disadvantaged populations and those who live in rural and underserved areas.
The VT AHEC is funded through multiple grants and contracts including: federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), State of Vermont, Vermont Department of Health, University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine (UVM LCOM), Vermont’s 14 hospitals, and private foundations. Federal support for health workforce development in Vermont and throughout the nation has been steadily decreasing over the last decade, while state and private support has remained flat. In order to continue meeting its statewide mission, the VT AHEC Network now uses a new structure to provide services to Vermonters effective September 1, 2017.
The number of regional AHECs in the state, which provide educational services to health professionals and students in their local communities, has consolidated from three to two. This is the first such redistricting of AHEC regions since the VT AHEC Network was established in 1996.
The Southern VT AHEC (SVTAHEC) incorporated Addison County into its service area, serving a total of five counties (est. pop. 232,211). The Northern VT AHEC (NVTAHEC) added Franklin and Grand Isle Counties to its service area, covering eight counties (est. pop. 232,449). The University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine Office of Primary Care’s AHEC Program provides services in Chittenden County (est. pop. 161,382). See inset map showing AHEC’s statewide service.
Through a new grant from the Office of Minority Health Partnerships to Achieve Health Equity Program, science enrichment and health career exploration opportunities are now available year-round for 9th through 12th graders in Burlington and Winooski High Schools. This project is part of the VT AHEC Network’s shared aim to increase the diversity of the health workforce in Vermont.
VT AHEC works across the health care pipeline from high school to practicing health professionals (e.g., medical, nursing, dental, social work, public health) on programs such as health careers awareness and exploration, preceptor recruitment for student clinical rotations, interprofessional and community-based projects, workforce recruitment and retention (e.g., educational loan repayment programs, physician recruitment), quality improvement projects, and continuing education for health professionals.