About the USF Area Health Education Center
The USF AHEC Program connects students to careers, professionals to communities and communities to better health. We inspire, train, recruit and sustain/retain a diverse and broad range of health professionals to practice in communities where the need is greatest.
The USF AHEC Program began in 1993 and covers a nine-county area on the central west coast of the state from as far north as Citrus to as far south as Charlotte county. Community activities are carried out by our two local AHEC Centers, Gulfcoast North AHEC in Land O' Lakes serving Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties and Gulfcoast South AHEC in Sarasota, which serves Charlotte, Desoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties.
The USF AHEC Program is part of a larger, statewide network, the Florida AHEC Network, including five AHEC programs at each of the state’s five medical schools and 10 centers covering all 67 counties of the state. We are also an active member of the National AHEC Organization, which supports 50 AHEC programs with more than 200 centers that operate in almost every state and the District of Columbia.
The USF AHEC Program inspires youth to choose a career in the health professions with our health career camps, mentoring programs, college preparatory courses and more. We focus on recruiting more minority and disadvantaged youth into health careers because research and experience indicate they will be more likely to care for the medically underserved. As our population becomes more diverse, it is important that our health care workforce reflects that diversity.
The USF AHEC Program and its centers coordinate clinical training opportunities at community-based sites throughout our nine county service area for students and residents enrolled in health professions training programs. Last year alone, more than 1,700 health professions students and residents from the USF AHEC service area provided more than 215,000 hours of care to an estimated 350,000 patients.Much of this care took place in the area's community/migrant health centers, county health departments, rural health clinics and similar sites dedicated to the medically underserved.Many of these AHEC sites are located in rural, inner city, or other medically underserved areas and bring health disparities to life for students and residents who see first-hand the needs of uninsured and underinsured patients. Service at these sites is designed not only to provide care for medically needy individuals but to expose health professions students and residents to the rewards and challenges of working with medically underserved populations.Such exposure may influence where these residents and students choose to practice upon graduation.
We recruit talented, dedicated health professionals who want to make a difference in the community and match them with positions in medically underserved communities. And we support local health care practitioners who care for the medically underserved by providing resources such as technical assistance, library services and continuing education programs to help them meet their professional needs.In this way, we help retain and sustain essential health care providers in communities where they are needed the most.