The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Bureau of Health Workforce (BHW), is accepting applications for its Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Program. The AHEC Program is charged with developing and maintaining community-based training programs with a focus on primary care in rural and underserved areas. The overall purpose of the AHEC program is to “develop and enhances education and training networks within communities, academic institutions, and community-based organizations…to support BHW’s strategic priorities to increase diversity and distribution among health professionals, enhance health care quality, and improve health care delivery to rural and underserved areas and populations.”
New applicants (accredited schools of allopathic or osteopathic medicine, incorporated consortia of such schools, or the parent institution of such schools) may apply for an Infrastructure Development (ID) phase. Existing AHEC programs (those who have received AHEC funding for 12+ years) may apply for the Point of Service Maintenance and Enhancement (POSME) phase.
To better align with the BHW’s priorities, this year’s AHEC funding opportunity announcement (FOA) emphasizes diversity, distribution, and practice transformation with a goal of creating a diverse primary care workforce that is well distributed and prepared to deliver high quality care in a transformative system. To this aim, applicants are required to include the following evidence-based elements:
- AHEC Scholars Program: Awardees must create and implement a longitudinal, interdisciplinary curricula for a cohort of health professions students, including a defined set of clinical, didactic, and community-based training activities and clinical training in a rural and/or underserved setting.
- Community-based Experiential Training: Recipients must also support experiential training in rural and underserved settings outside of the Scholars Program.
- Support of six “core topic areas” including: interprofessional education; behavioral health integration; social determinants of health; cultural competency; practice transformation; and current and emerging health issues.
- Pipeline Activities: Recipients must include recruiting, training, and activities for high school students that focus on exposure to health careers.
- Continuing Education: Recipients must include training activities in the “core topic areas” for currently practicing health professionals.
HRSA anticipates awarding 55 cooperative agreements this cycle, with approximately 15% of the distribution for ID awards and the remaining 85% for POSME awards. ID applicants may request up to $250,000 per center per year; POSME awards are expected to be approximately $103,000 per center per year. Cost sharing ($1:1) is required for both types of applicants. The project period is five years commencing September 1, 2017. Applications are due March 29, 2017.