Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) were first proposed by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education in the early 1970s as a means of addressing the maldistribution of health professionals in medically underserved areas throughout the nation. Presently, there are 42 AHEC programs currently active in a national network that includes 40 states. All AHEC programs work toward the goal of decentralizing the educational training of health professionals in order to improve the distribution, supply, quality, utilization and efficiency of health care personnel. This is accomplished by linking communities with academic health centers in a manner that promotes cooperative solutions to local health problems.

Central Florida Area Health Education Center, Inc.:

The Central Florida Area Health Education Center was legally chartered as a non-profit entity in Florida in 1989 and resides in the rural community of Apopka, Florida. Since that time, it has continued to serve isolated and medically underserved populations throughout a large, nine county, primarily rural areas encompassing Orange, Seminole, Lake, Sumter, Brevard, Osceola, Polk, Highlands, and Hardee. Many of the communities encompassed within this region consist of high proportions of indigent, multicultural, multilingual migrants as well as other residents with little or no access to health care. A Board of Directors, consisting of a wide variety of practitioners, administrators of health care facilities, social service agencies, educators, and consumers, has been carefully selected based on their expertise, interest in AHEC, and is the key to grass roots development of AHEC within the local communities as well as to enhancing cultivation of local input so necessary to effective planning implementation.

Since its inception, the CFAHEC has been effective in reaching the many needs of health care professionals by developing linkages with civic, government and health professions to develop timely and innovative services and programs to meet significant needs in this region.

Major Program Objectives:

Continuing Education Programs:

Developed to meet the needs of health care providers in the CFAHEC area and is primarily aimed at county health departments, community/migrant health centers, rural community hospitals, and a myriad of other rural health care providers.

Library Without Walls Program:

Developed to meet the needs of the health care providers in underserved areas of the Central Florida and Everglades AHEC areas. Approximately eighty sites in this system. Services include: Online Searches, Grateful Med Training, Interlibrary Loan, NCME Tapes for Cat 1 Credit, and HIV/AIDS, Child Abuse, and Cultural Sensitivity Clearinghouses.

Health Careers Recruitment Program:

Innovative strategies to recruit students from rural communities into health professions. Summer Health Careers Camp for qualified students to study health professions options.

Rural Medicine Program:

Clinical rotations for students in Medicine, Physicians Assistants, and other Allied Health fields from NSU School of Osteopathic Medicine and Health Professions Division.

Other University and Community College Affiliations:

Collaboration with local health professions training programs to establish clinical training experiences in a wide variety of rural and urban underserved settings.

Nova Southeastern University AHEC Program (NSU):

The CFAHEC Program is affiliated with the NSU College of Osteopathic Medicine. NSU’s AHEC Program officially began on October 1, 1985 with a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. With this award, NSU became the first medical school in Florida to begin an AHEC Program as part of the State funded Florida AHEC Network. The NSU AHEC Program consists of a Central Program Office located on the NSU Main Campus and the two affiliated centers, (Central Florida AHEC AND Everglades AHEC).