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What is AHEC?

What is an AHEC?


Area Health Education Centers (AHECs) were begun by the federal government in the late 1970s as programs designed to address health manpower distribution through community-based initiatives.

How are AHECs structured?


AHECs are administered by a school of medicine, which is the program office, and subcontracts with remote centers from the medical school. Each center must be a 501(c)3 entity, governed by a Board of Directors representative of the service area.

How are AHECs funded?


The federal government, through competitive grants, makes seed monies available to establish AHEC programs and centers. The intent is to provide sufficient dollars to build the infrastructure and to build a case for state support assuming the activities and accomplishments are of value to the communities served by the AHEC.

What is the role of the community in AHEC?


Communities are the heart of AHEC. The centers are governed by a community Board of Directors who live in and represent the region served. These community boards identify the needs and priorities for health care professionals in their region within the scope of the broad AHEC objectives. The AHEC employees live in the center's region and are employees of the Board of Directors rather than of the academic partner. A minimum of 75% of all federal dollars awarded must be subcontracted directly to the centers, with the remaining financial oversight and to develop institutional support and linkages needed by the committee.

How many AHECs operate in Georgia?

The AHEC program in Georgia was begun by the Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) in 1984 with the establishment of two centers, the Atlanta AHEC (serving three metropolitan areas) and the Tuskegee AHEC in Alabama. The Atlanta AHEC was changed to become the Southeastern Primary Care Consortium AHEC (SPCC-AHEC) . The second center, the CHEP AHEC, was begun in 1987 serving 39 counties in central and southeast Georgia and is now the Magnolia Coastlands AHEC.


The Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM) established the Southwest Georgia (SOWEGA) AHEC, which serves 38 counties. MUSM later established the Three Rivers AHEC in 1994, which serves 28 counties in west central Georgia.


The Medical College of Georgia (MCG), now known as Augusta University (AU), in partnership with MUSM, received a grant in 1996 to operate as a federally-funded AHEC. This funding supported the development of two centers in northwest and northeast Georgia as well as promoted the maturation of the Three Rivers AHEC. The program office at AU established the Blue Ridge AHEC in 1996, which serves 20 counties in northwest Georgia, and Foothills AHEC in 1999, which serves 31 counties in northeast Georgia.


AU and MUSM became an integrated statewide AHEC program, and the program office at AU now coordinates the statewide center efforts. AU also coordinates and manages this diverse partnership of schools, provider organizations, and clinical practitioners.

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