North Carolina AHEC Program
spring 2010 newsletter | home

Director's Message

Tom BaconThis issue of the North Carolina AHEC Review includes several articles on innovative ways the NC AHEC Program supports students and practicing health professionals, sometimes in non-traditional ways, to acquire and maintain the skills they need to be productive members of the health care team.

The article on the nurse refresher program describes recent improvements made in that program, including the availability of an online version of the theory course; in order to better meet the needs of nurses who wish to return to work. The nurse refresher program, done in collaboration with the UNC School of Nursing and the Friday Center for Continuing Education, has had a major impact over the years in supporting nurses with lapsed and inactive licenses who wish to return to work. In 2009, nearly 400 nurses were enrolled in the didactic and clinical portions of the program, and the vast majority of nurses completing the program return to nursing practice.

The article on the Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center grant provides an overview of an exciting new project to support primary care practices in the state in selecting and implementing electronic health records in their practices. Working with several major partners, the NC AHEC Program will use its existing regional infrastructure to hire over 40 new staff across the state to provide onsite technical assistance to primary care providers and to assist them in utilizing health information technology to improve the quality of care.

Elsewhere in this issue are other articles and news briefs about such diverse topics as the use of simulation in preparing students for clinical rotations, continuing education programs on a number of innovative topics, and improvements that have been made in the AHEC Digital Library to make it more user-friendly and responsive to the needs of students and health professionals. These diverse programs and services both enhance and strengthen our capacity to serve the health care workforce in the state as we respond to emerging training needs of health care providers and students.

Thomas J. Bacon, DrPH
Director, North Carolina AHEC Program