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Introducing the Southwest Washington Area Health Education Center

In September of 2022, the Association formed the Southwest Washington Area Health Education Center (AHEC). AHECs are innovative centers that work to strengthen the healthcare workforce in rural and underserved communities through gap assessments, strategic partnerships, and/or direct programming. They work alongside the National AHEC Organization (NAO) to engage and provide leadership within their region.

AHECs in Washington There are four regional AHECs in Washington State, each seeking to support their unique community needs and demographics:

  • Eastern Washington AHEC (EWAHEC)- Serving Eastern Washington as a program of Eastern Washington University

  • AHEC Western Washington (AHEC WW)- Serving Western Washington, managed by Whatcom Community College

  • Southwest Washington AHEC (SWWAHEC)- Serving Southwest Washington, operated by the Association.

  • Central Washington AHEC (CWAHEC)- Serving Central Washington as a program of Wenatchee Valley College.

These regional AHECs are supported by the University of Washington AHEC Program Office and the National AHEC Organization (NAO).

Southwest Washington AHEC Programs

The goal of the Southwest Washington AHEC is to ensure that area health centers can recruit and train a diverse, culturally competent primary care workforce that meets the needs of the communities they serve. Below is an overview of the programs we offer to reach that goal.

Career Pipeline Events

Preparing the workforce of tomorrow requires inspiring the youth of today to consider healthcare careers. These regionally focused events are aimed at supporting 9th- 12th grade students who have experienced racial, income, and other disparities that create barriers to access when applying to or entering health professions.

Rural Underserved Opportunities Program (RUOP)

RUOP is a four-week, elective immersion experience in community medicine for medical school students in their first year of medical school. During their four-week rotation, students live in rural or urban underserved communities and work side-by-side with physicians to provide healthcare to those populations.

AHEC Scholars

This two-year interprofessional certificate program prepares and supports a diverse, skilled primary care workforce in rural and underserved communities. The program is available to students from Latino, Native American, and other excluded communities who are studying health care across Washington. The no-cost program includes coursework, visits to underserved and rural healthcare sites, and networking opportunities.

Continuing Education

Continuing education for healthcare professionals is a fundamental AHEC service and is offered via education specialists with a wide range of clinical, business, and healthcare expertise. Topics are driven by the needs of underserved healthcare sites.

You can learn more about the Southwest Washington AHEC on our website or by reaching out to Pat Lange, AHEC Director.

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