AHEC Educates and Advocates for Funding In Washington DC
Five staff members represented the Northeast Kentucky AHEC at this year’s National AHEC Organization (NAO) Conference held June 27-30 in Washington D.C. This biennial conference brings AHECs from across the nation together to collaborate and share ideas, and this year, the NE KY AHEC presented on three of its own innovative projects.
Former health careers coordinator Ashley Shelton presented the workshop Plugging the Leaky Pipeline: Post-Secondary Internships to Promote Health Careers and Community Partnerships, discussing our Summer Health Internship Program (SHIP) along with representatives from the Southern Vermont and Manhattan-Staten Island AHECs, which also have similar programs.
Director David A. Gross discussed the NE KY AHEC’s cancer roundtable project funded by a grant from the George Washington Cancer Institute during the workshop Regional AHECs’ Role in Integrating Chronic Disease and Comprehensive Cancer Control Activities. The NE KY AHEC is one of only four AHECs in the country awarded this grant to support cancer and chronic disease integration efforts.
Gross, assistant center director Lainey Mattox, and student services coordinator Jessica Caudill presented the workshop A Regional AHEC’s Use of In-State Medical School Data to Guide its Health Careers Programming. Following a report of local students’ low application and matriculation rates to in-state medical schools, the NE KY AHEC developed two physician pipeline programs. This presentation described the programs’ formation and early successes and made the case for heightened regional responsibility in the development of medical school applicants.
Since the conference was held in our nation’s capital, advocacy was also a large component of this year’s event, with participants spending one day on Capitol Hill advocating to increase AHEC funding from $30 million annually to $40 million. Gross, Caudill, and NE KY AHEC education coordinator KaSandra Hensley joined their Kentucky AHEC colleagues in meeting with congressional aides to share information on the meaningful impact AHECs make to rural and medically underserved communities. The Kentucky AHECs met with aides for U.S. Reps. Andy Barr, Thomas Massie, Ed Whitfield, and Hal Rogers, as well as U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul.
“Whether it’s sharing lessons learned from our programs or jointly advocating for increased funding, I believe it’s imperative that the Northeast AHEC remain plugged in at the state and national levels,” Gross. “We also learned several new things at this event that we will put into effect within our region.”