North Carolina AHEC Program
spring 2011 newsletter | home

Director's Message

Tom BaconWe have just released the 2011 Progress Report for the North Carolina Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Program. The report summarizes some of the accomplishments of AHEC over the past year in addressing the health workforce needs of the state. I am particularly pleased that we are also highlighting some of the faculty and staff who work in the AHECs across North Carolina, since they are the reason for the successes we continue to achieve in serving the needs of the communities of North Carolina.

It goes without saying that we are experiencing a very challenging time. North Carolina has been particularly hard hit by the severe recession and AHEC, like other state-funded programs, has experienced a series of budget reductions which are likely to continue for the near term. Remarkably, in the midst of this downturn in state funding, our programs and services continue to grow. Rather than pulling back, AHEC staff have pulled together to find new ways to meet our mission. They are using technology more effectively to expand our reach and have become even more creative in developing new sources of revenue in order to support our work with students, residents and practicing health professionals.

Because of their commitment to innovation and efficiency, AHECs were able to place more health science students in community sites than ever before last year. The number of health professionals attending AHEC continuing education programs last year grew by five percent, and AHEC Digital Library use continued to increase for all types of providers. 2011 Progress ReportAHEC staff worked with more than 30,000 young people and adults through our health careers and workforce diversity activities in the past year, and we experienced particular growth in the more intensive health careers programs which have the greatest long-term impact on education and career choices. Finally, through a new federal grant from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (HIT), NC AHEC served as the lead agency for development of the HIT Regional Extension Center for North Carolina. Through this initiative, we are working with more than 550 primary care practices across North Carolina in selecting and adopting electronic health records (EHRs), and assisting practices in using those EHRs to improve the quality of care delivered to patients.

The 2011 Progress Report provides summary data on our programs and services and highlights some of the individuals who work to “create a better state of health” for North Carolina. Be sure to take a look at the report as you also look at the articles contained in this issue of the AHEC Review.

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