Betterment of area and rural health care mission for AHEC, MSU

Midwestern State University and the West Texas Area Health Education Center program office are committed to boosting health care in North Texas and beyond.

With that mission in mind, MSU Texas is proud to announce the opening of the North Central Texas AHEC center to better serve Wichita Falls and the surrounding communities. The new regional center is under the direction of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

The AHEC is a collaborative program that serves as an outreach for TTUHSC’s academic and health-care services. “Through these centers, we address community-based needs for health information and provide support to help sustain the current and future health-care workforce in each AHEC region,” said Tedd L. Mitchell, M.D., TTUHSC president and chancellor of the Texas Tech University System. "The addition of the North Central Texas AHEC center at MSU creates an opportunity for us to serve this area and help meet their needs, which will, in turn, benefit our entire state.”

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AHEC, a federal grant program established in 1971, has a mission is to recruit, educate, and sustain a health professions workforce committed to underserved and rural populations. There are six regional centers in the West Texas AHEC area and 261 centers nationwide. The office at MSU Texas serves 11 counties: Archer, Clay, Cooke, Denton, Jack, Montague, Palo Pinto, Parker, Wichita, Wise, and Young.

“The center brings additional resources and capacity to the area,” MSU Texas Provost Dr. James Johnston said. “We host it out of MSU Texas, but AHEC is set up to support the health-care network of our region. It’s really difficult for smaller health-care facilities to find health-care professionals, and what I have advocated for is to grow your own.”

Johnston said the recruiting of high schools in the region and adding awareness of the field to prospective students increases the chances of returning to their communities to work.

North Central Texas AHEC director Sarah Long is excited to have returned to the MSU Texas campus for this endeavor.

MSU Texas logo“Twenty years ago, I was a student here at MSU dreaming of becoming a health-care professional, and now that journey has come full circle,” Long said. “I am so thankful I’ve had the opportunity to become part of an organization so valuable for the future of the health-care workforce.”

AHEC clinical training placements put health professions students in a variety of real-world settings, such as migrant, urban, and rural community health clinics and health departments that provide health care.

“Our goal is to meet the needs of our communities, with a continual focus on improving the delivery of health care by working with our region's academic institutions, health-care settings, and community-based organizations,” Long said. “We offer creative, hands-on curricula for high school and college students seeking a career in health sciences or human services.”

Students who participate in AHEC service-learning programs develop an awareness of the economic and cultural barriers in the delivery of health care.

“(AHEC) works with the students we have on campus with internships or placement, extending that network, and helping our students who are here be successful,” Johnston said. “And they help coordinate continuing education credits, which we need to maintain our licenses.”

And AHEC will host seminars and conferences, and help students find available scholarship opportunities. AHEC connects students to community populations to facilitate future engagement and network alliance building for health career students to remain in their clinical practice region.

“To grow our own,” is how Johnston sums it up. And he’s excited about that growth and the benefits for health care and health-care professionals in this region.

For more information contact the North Central AHEC office by calling 940-397-8912 or 940-397-8913.

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AHEC director, MSU Texas Provost discuss benefits of new center