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In 2022, the Washington Association for Community Health received a HRSA grant to become the Southwest Washington Area Health Education Center (AHEC), the state’s fourth regional AHEC.

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Washington State AHEC Mission & Vision

Mission: The four Area Health Education Centers work with the national AHEC movement to support healthcare delivery systems and access to care through activities that strengthen the healthcare workforce in rural and urban-underserved communities.

Vision: The Area Health Education Centers in Washington State are innovative centers, providing leadership engaged with diverse rural and urban-underserved communities to ensure access to quality healthcare and health workforce education.

AHEC across Washington: Our state has 4 regional AHECs. They are: WWAMI AHEC, Eastern Washington AHEC, AHEC Western Washington, and our newly-established Southwest Washington AHEC.

Visit the state’s AHEC website to learn more.

Southwest Washington AHEC

Establishing the Southwest Washington AHEC aligns with the Association’s focus on ensuring our state can recruit and train a diverse, culturally competent primacy care workforce that meets the needs of the communities we serve. As Washington’s primary care association, we have numerous ties to community health centers across the state and a long history of serving the educational needs of providers working in  and rural and underserved communities. Through this new AHEC designation, we’ll provide the following programs. 

  • Career Pipeline: Career Pipeline events are geared toward 9th -  12th grade high school students including career fairs, immersion opportunities, career planning, and educational support for students seeking to entrance into healthcare professions. 

  • Rural Underserved Opportunities Program (RUOP): The RUOP program is a four-week elective immersion experience in community medicine for students between their first and second year of medical school. This experience focuses on rural and underserved communities and allows for students to gain first-hand experience in a healthcare setting.  

  • AHEC Scholars: This two-year, national certificate program prepares and supports a diverse, skilled primary care workforce in rural and  high barrier communities. The AHEC Scholars opportunity provides students with an interprofessional healthcare experience for students in a degree/certificate program with opportunities for expanded clinical training, experiential projects or service learning. 

  • Continuing Education (CE): Continuing Education trainings through SW WA AHEC will focus on high quality professional development covering a wide range of healthcare topics as requested by the local healthcare community. These trainings will seek to assist professionals with increasing competency and maintaining licensure. 

Advisory Board

The Southwestern Washington AHEC Advisory Board members will lend their expertise, skills, and guidance in the Center’s  inaugural year by supporting and guiding SW AHEC Director and staff in first- and second-year implementation of RUOP (Rural Underserved Opportunities Program) preceptor recruitment, statewide evaluation activities, Continuing Education (CE), 9th- 12th grade pipeline events, strategic partnership formation, AHEC Scholars program recruitment/development, and best practices for workforce education and training as it pertains to healthcare and career development.  


Board members are by invitation and are  chosen for their expertise  in healthcare and workforce development.  The SW AHEC advisory Board is represented by leaders in health sciences, healthcare administration, tribal law, workforce development, STEM, high school and college Career Technical Education, college administrators, educators, economic development councils, and workforce development councils.  

Contact Information

If you’d like more information about the SW Washington AHEC, please reach out to Patricia Lange using the information below.

Patricia Lange, Health Education Manager/AHEC Director


Phone: (360) 786-9722 ext. 209

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