The Montana AHEC (Area Health Education Centers) mission is to improve the supply and distribution of healthcare professionals, with an emphasis on primary care, through community/academic educational partnerships, in order to increase the access to quality healthcare. We work to connect students to healthcare careers, professionals to communities, and communities to better health.



History of AHEC

The AHEC program was developed by Congress in 1971 to recruit, train and retain a health professions workforce committed to underserved populations. Grants to fund AHECs were always made to the medical school(s) within the states. The only exception to this has been the University of Washington School of Medicine (UWSM). In this case, the federal government provided funding to the UWSM to start AHECs in Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho, all partners in the Regional WWAMI program.     

On October 1, 1985, the Montana AHEC was implemented. The program office for the Montana Area Health Education Center/Office of Rural Health is located on the campus of Montana State University in Bozeman.

In September 2007, under new rules allowing Colleges of Nursing to apply for AHEC grants, the MSU College of Nursing applied and was awarded a grant to establish four regional AHEC offices in Montana in addition to the Bozeman Program Office. In year one, the South Central Regional office was set up in Dillon under the auspices of the Montana Hospital Association and the Eastern Regional AHEC office was set up in Billings at RiverStone Health. The Western office was established in September of 2008 under the College of Health Professions at The University of Montana. The North Central regional office was opened January 2010, also under the Montana Hospital Association. Both the South Central and North Central offices are now located in Helena, MT.

Each region has a director, a regional advisory council, and works to develop healthcare workforce strategies for their region. View the region map.

To fulfill our mission, we focus on three key areas:

  1. Workforce development of qualified healthcare professionals into our rural and underserved communities:  we offer several programs, through our office and through collaboration/partnerships with other organizations in our region.
  2. Pipeline programs for K-12 students to generate interest in healthcare professions: we have several pipeline programs currently in our region. MedStart summer camp is a summer camp focusing on rural, minority, low-income and first generation college-bound students that provides an introduction to health science and college life. REACH (Research and Explore Awesome Careers in Healthcare) is a daylong camp for high school students to explore different careers in the medical field.
  3. Continuing Education and Community Health for practicing healthcare professionals: we host online continuing education webinars/teleconferences, in addition to onsite conferences for rural providers, sponsorships and participant support for affiliated conferences and offer continuing education for all Montana healthcare professionals. 

The counties served by the the North Central region AHEC office:

Western Montana AHEC Eastern AHEC Montana AHEC North Central Montana AHEC South Central AHEC

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