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Professional Training

Area Health Education Centers (AHEC)

The Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) program was developed by Congress in 1971 to recruit, train, and retain a health professions workforce committed to underserved populations. The AHEC program helps bring the resources of academic medicine to address local community health needs. The strength of the AHEC network is its ability to creatively adapt national initiatives to address local and regional healthcare issues.

The AHEC mission is to enhance access to quality health care, particularly primary and preventive care, by improving the supply and distribution of healthcare professionals via strategic partnerships with academic programs, communities, and professional organizations. In turn, these partnerships and networks support strategic priorities to increase diversity and distribution among healthcare professionals, enhance health care quality, and improve health care delivery to rural and underserved areas and populations.

In September 2007, Cherokee Health Systems (CHS) established a partnership with Meharry Medical College to serve as East Tennessee’s Area Health Education Center (AHEC).  CHS continues to serve as the East Tennessee AHEC and, in fall 2022, will begin development of a Southeast Tennessee AHEC in Chattanooga.  Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center in Nashville is the AHEC in central Tennessee, and Christ Community Health Services in Memphis will develop a center in west Tennessee. 

AHEC initiatives include:

Workforce Development and Distribution: CHS will contribute to a statewide workforce development plan designed to recruit and retain health professionals in practice in rural and urban medically underserved areas (RUMUAs)

    ●High School to Practice Pathways (HSPP): CHS will promote awareness of

health professions careers among high school and college undergraduate students and will offer support to established HOSA clubs. 

Continuing Education on cutting-edge topics will be sponsored to ensure that the CHS health care workforce is prepared to deliver high quality care in a transforming health care delivery system with an emphasis on rural and underserved areas and communities.

The AHEC Scholars Program is a unique interprofessional training opportunity designed to prepare a diverse, culturally competent health care workforce that is representative of the communities it serves. In general, eligible trainees are graduate students entering the final two years of their training programs. The program involves a two-year commitment.  Each year will include 40 hours of team-based, interprofessional clinical exposure and 40 hours of didactic learning focused on eight core topics: Patient-Centered Clinical Practice Transformation; Interprofessional Education, Cultural Competence, Social Determinants of Health, Behavioral Health Integration, Virtual Learning/Telehealth, Connecting Communities and Supporting Health Professionals, and Current/Emerging Health Issues. At least 15 Scholars will be selected annually by each of the east, central and west Tennessee centers; Southeast Tennessee will begin accepting Scholars in 2023.  Accepted Scholars will receive a $500 Participation Award upon completion of Year 1 requirements and an additional $500 Participation Award upon completion of Year 2 requirements.

Interested in becoming an AHEC Scholar? 
Please click here for the AHEC Scholars Program Brochure. For the Letter of Recommendation Form, click here. To apply, complete the application here and submit as indicated.

AHEC Program Resources:

**At this time, Tennessee AHEC does not offer housing or have resources to support housing for Scholars or other trainees.

2022-2024 AHEC Scholars

Samantha Morris (ETSU, pharmacy)

Olivia Knoll (ETSU, medicine)

Lynsey Hinnenkamp (UTK, counseling psychology)

Kara Gilliam (ETSU, medicine, public health)

Jasmine Aguirre (UTK, counseling psychology)

Jane Kim (UTK, clinical psychology)

Femi Oyedeji (UTK, public health)

Cody Rocha (LMU, medicine)

Autumn Locke (ETSU, pharmacy)

AJ Brenk (LMU, medicine)

Ahauve Orusa (ETSU, medicine, public health)

Kerri Qualls (UTK, nursing) 

Sai Dwarampudi (ETSU, medicine)

Hannah Shoaf (LMU, medicine)

Carrie Trawinski (UTK, social work)

2021-2023 AHEC Scholars

David Tierney (UTK, counseling psychology)

Ethel Ngene (ETSU, pharmacy)

McKenzie Martin (UTK, clinical psychology)

Jennifer Davis (ETSU, medicine)

Nomathamsanga "Noma" Mgutshini (ETSU, pharmacy)

Araminta "Minta" Ray (ETSU, medicine, public health)

Stella Uchendu (ETSU, social work)

Zack Lindsey (ETSU, medicine)

Grayson Aldridge (ETSU, medicine)

Kody Sexton (UTK, counseling psychology)

Marcia Thacher (ETSU, medicine)