In 1971, the nationwide AHEC system was developed by Congress to recruit, train and retain a health professions workforce committed to underserved populations. By their very structure, AHECs are able to respond in a flexible and creative manner in adapting national initiatives to help address local and regional healthcare issues and support the nation’s most vulnerable communities. The national AHEC network consists of more than 300 AHEC Program offices and Centers, serving over 85% of the counties in the United States, with close to 50 years of experience.

In partnership with healthcare systems, schools, community-based organizations and more, AHECs employ traditional and innovative approaches to develop and train a diverse healthcare workforce prepared to deliver culturally appropriate, high-quality, team-based care, with an emphasis on primary care for rural and underserved communities. AHECs are embedded in the communities they serve, positioning them to respond rapidly to emergent training needs of healthcare providers and health professions students.

Gulfcoast South AHEC is affiliated with the University of South Florida AHEC Program, part of the Florida AHEC Network, as well as an active member of the National AHEC Organization. The Florida AHEC Network is an extensive statewide system made up of five AHEC Programs and ten Centers. Each Center is supported by an AHEC Program at one of the state’s medical schools. This organizational structure enables the AHECs to draw upon the resources of the academic health centers in addressing local healthcare issues. The Florida AHEC Network was originally established to recruit youth into health careers, support health professions students training and coordinate health professional education. Beginning in 2007, the Florida AHEC Network has facilitated tobacco training and cessation programs as well as a variety of health access, education and workforce development initiatives.

Since 1995, Gulfcoast South AHEC has fostered programs that educate and enhance the well-being of the communities we serve. The rich history of providing education to health professionals and students, training and supporting community health workers, and inspiring and preparing youth to enter any one of the healthcare professions that our communities desperately need, is a source of pride and inspiration for future endeavors. Addressing the health disparities of rural and underserved communities, and providing access to health education and services to Limited English Proficient patients and those who care for them are examples of expanded investments we have made in response to critical needs. Through education, we will strive to fulfill our vision where every person has access to quality care.