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Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) bring together health career educators, community hospitals, health professionals, and local citizens in a collaborative effort to help:


  • Address shortages of health professionals in underserved rural areas;

  • Provide community-based services that assist practicing health professionals, like doctors, dentist, nurses and other providers, to further develop and maintain their skills;

  • Encourage students, especially minorities or under-represented groups, to pursue health careers.

Our Mission:  

We strive to improve the health of Missourians in rural and underserved areas through education and workforce development.


Our vision:

We envision a state where every Missourian is supported by a quality health workforce that reflects the community it serves.


Our values: 

  • Excellence

  • Community Partnerships

  • Access to Health Care

  • Diversity

  • Lifelong Learning

  • Inter-professionalism

Our goals:

  • Increase the number of youth interested in pursuing health careers

  • Encourage current health professions students to work in rural and underserved urban areas by offering community-based clinical training experiences;

  • Promote access to quality healthcare and healthy lifestyles through educational outreach, community resources, and collaboration. 

We achieve this by empowering community residents to take an active role in grooming local youth to be future providers and recruiting healthcare providers who are genuinely interested in serving locally and becoming long-term citizens of that community.  In addition, AHEC encourages and assists communities in building local relationships and support to retain the providers.

West Central Missouri AHEC is a regional center of the Missouri Area Health Centers (MAHEC) which is a statewide network comprised of federal and local partnerships, The MAHEC mission and objectives align with federal AHEC requirements: to enhance access to quality health care, particularly primary and preventative care, by growing and supporting Missouri’s health care workforce. These efforts are supported in part with funds from the the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Bureau of Health Professions (BHrP); and local support mechanisms. 


We accomplish our mission by:

  • Creating Academic-Community Partnerships

  • Promoting Healthcare Careers to Missouri Youth

  • Identifying and Supporting Potential Health Professionals

  • Promoting High-Quality Training of Health Professions Students

  • Providing Educational Resources to Increase the Retention of Practitioners

  • Partnering with State Agencies and other Organizations to Promote Overall Improvement in Community Health Status


Federal funding to Missouri in 1988 established the foundation for an AHEC system to address the mal-distribution crisis in the state's healthcare workforce. Since then, seven regional centers have been established and three of Missouri's medical schools, along with numerous collaborators across the state, have taken up the torch to improve the supply and distribution of multiple healthcare disciplines through community-based training and recruitment.


Today's MAHEC system provides service throughout the entire state by creating partnerships, amplifying resources, and helping to educate communities on the need to proactively recruit, train, and retain healthcare personnel. Our many partnerships with community action groups, social service agencies, and healthcare providers make MAHEC a critical collaborator in improving the healthcare workforce



The AHEC (Area Health Education Centers) program was developed by Congress in 1971 to recruit, train and retain a health professions workforce committed to underserved populations. Through community-based interdisciplinary training programs, AHEC's work to achieve this goal. 

AHEC helps to bring the resources of academic medicine to bear in addressing local community health needs. By their very structure, AHEC's are able to respond in a flexible and creative manner in adapting national health initiatives to the particular needs of the nation's most vulnerable communities. 

Today, 50 AHEC programs with more than 200 centers operate in almost every state and the District of Columbia. Approximately 120 medical schools and 600 nursing and allied health schools work collaboratively with AHECs to improve health for underserved and under-represented populations.

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