Since 1972 AHEC has forged a link between the state's academic medical centers and the communities of North Carolina. The nine regional AHECs create a statewide classroom for health science students, primary care residents, and practicing health professionals. This partnership has brought about high quality, accessible education for health professionals in all 100 counties. In the process, the AHEC Program has helped improve the availability of health practitioners in the communities of North Carolina and has improved the quality of health care in our state. AHEC has collaborative or supportive partnerships with several branches of North Carolina's Department of Human Resources, including the Office of Rural Health and Resource Development; the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services; the Division on Aging; and the Department of Environment, Health and Natural Resources. The nine AHECs have also co-sponsored continuing education programs with state health professional societies, health care associations, campuses of the North Carolina Department of Community Colleges, the multi-campus University of North Carolina and private post-secondary educational institutions. Cooperative alliances have also been forged with private foundations such as the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust and The Duke Endowment, as well as with statewide organizations such as the NC Primary Healthcare Association. The North Carolina AHEC Program welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with our academic and community partners to develop educational programs that respond to the many changes occurring in the healthcare environment.