Release

Wayne State's Michigan Area Health Education Center receives $1.1 million grant from U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration to enhance statewide network of regional centers

October 31, 2014


According to the federal and state government, 79 of Michigan's 83 counties have at least partial designation as primary care health professional shortage areas, 76 have a shortage of dental professionals and 45 are designated as mental health care professional shortage areas. Michigan AHEC strives to address these shortages by working with schools, community organizations, government agencies and health providers to prepare underrepresented and disadvantaged youth for health care careers, promote clinical training opportunities for health professions students in shortage areas and provide professional development programs for health professionals. Five regional centers will manage these efforts: the Southeast Regional Center (Detroit), Mid-Central Regional Center (Mount Pleasant), Western Regional Center (Grand Rapids), Upper Peninsula Regional Center (Marquette) and the Northern Lower Regional Center, slated to open in 2015.

"Now, all 83 counties in Michigan will have access to a regional center. Federal funding for all five centers will allow us to expand our work to correct the maldistribution of primary care providers in underserved communities, particularly rural underserved areas," said Ramona Benkert, co-principal investigator of the Michigan AHEC grant and interim associate dean for academic and clinical affairs and associate professor in the WSU College of Nursing. "AHECs nationwide have been able to increase and diversify the health care workforce. HRSA's support will allow us to achieve similar results in the state of Michigan."

"Working in partnership with community organizations, health providers and government agencies, Michigan AHEC promotes health career opportunities to students and underrepresented minorities, encourages students and health professionals to work in areas with limited primary care providers, and enhances the knowledge and skills of a diverse workforce of health professionals throughout Michigan," said Dr. Valerie M. Parisi, dean of the School of Medicine and co-principal investigator of the Michigan AHEC grant. "This is critical to our state, which faces a dire shortage of physicians at a time our population is aging and needs more health care and more health care providers."

The Wayne State University College of Nursing and School of Medicine established Michigan AHEC in 2010 through a federal grant from HRSA. Additional program partners include the WSU Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, WSU School of Social Work and the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry. Host partners that help manage the regional centers include the Central Michigan University Dow College of Health Professions, Greater Detroit Area Health Council, Northern Michigan University School of Health and Human Performance, and the Western Michigan University College of Health and Human Services.

Some of Michigan AHEC's major accomplishments during the last four years include: 
•    Exposing more than 5,300 students to health care careers through enrichment, outreach and informational activities
•    Introducing 1,013 teens and young adults to health care careers through 18 regional AHEC activities
•    Assisting more than 100 students perform more than 200 rotations, contributing more than 20,000 training hours
•    Training more than 175 individuals who work with young people in Youth Mental Health First Aid through a partnership          with the WSU School of Social Work and AmeriCorps
•    Working with the Michigan Department of Rural Health to create a physician retention plan that was distributed to 200           community clinics
•    Offering 25 continuing education programs that served 1,170 participants who earned more than 140 hours of training

"Michigan AHEC has made great progress in terms of exposing young people to health care careers, engaging health profession students in clinical experiences and developing continuing education programs for health professionals," said Dr. Dennis Tsilimingras, co-program director of Michigan AHEC and assistant professor in the WSU School of Medicine. "We look forward to expanding our reach and working with more schools, professional associations, health centers and health providers so that we are able to build upon our efforts to recruit, train and retain primary care providers and expand access to care in Michigan."

Congress created the national AHEC program in 1971. Nationally, more than 50 community-based AHECs build partnerships with more than 120 medical schools, over 600 nursing and allied health schools, and hundreds of health care employers. These partnerships enhance access to quality care by improving the supply, distribution and diversity of the nation's health workforce.

Created in 1982, the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The primary federal agency for improving access to health care services for people who are uninsured, isolated or medically vulnerable, HRSA's mission is to improve health and achieve health equity through access to quality services, a skilled health workforce and innovative programs. For more information, visit www.hrsa.gov.

The award number for this grant is 5 U77HP26852-02-00.

The Michigan Area Health Education Center (AHEC), a program of Wayne State University, was established in 2010. Through a statewide network of regional centers, Michigan AHEC works to improve community health and strengthen the state's health care workforce by recruiting, training, and retaining health professionals committed to increasing access to primary care in underserved areas. For more information, visit http://miahec.wayne.edu or call (313) 577-5161.