Utah AHEC Program Receives $800,000 Appropriation
Jun 14, 2021 10:05 AM
With the finalization of the Utah state budget, the Utah Area Health Education Center (AHEC) program is pleased to announce that it has been granted $800,000 by state legislators on an ongoing basis. Thanks largely to the tireless efforts of Senator Evan J. Vickers (R-Dist. 28) and Stephen Lisonbee, Executive Director of Regional Services for Southern Utah University, the funding granted to AHEC will allow the program to continue its mission to bring current and future health professionals to practice in a transformed health system for medically underserved rural and urban communities throughout the state.
Commenting on the importance of the funding in support of AHEC’s work to enhance the supply of healthcare providers for all Utah communities, Ivette A. Lopez, PhD, Director of Utah AHEC, said, “This is a recognition of the work of our partnership, center directors (Rita Osborn, Mindy Bateman, and Fred Henderson) and staff of our three local Centers to help our young people become the much needed health professionals of the future. This is also in recognition of the diligent work of our former Utah AHEC Program Director Dr. Mike Magill, MD, who has been a champion of the AHEC.” Rita Osborn, Director of the Southern AHEC, concurred, adding “We know that these funds will equate to additional health providers for Utah at all levels. Our focus is on the critical need for health workforce in Utah and Utah AHEC is well positioned to increase the workforce, especially in underrepresented urban areas and in rural communities." Kola Okuyemi, current board member of Utah AHEC and Chair of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine of the University of Utah, added, “I am so delighted and congratulate the statewide Utah AHEC and Dr. López for securing this critically needed funding from the State! This signals strong support and a vote of confidence, and begins to set the path forward for exceptional achievements by the Utah AHEC.” Dr. Yas Simonian concurred, “I would like to congratulate our Northern Utah AHEC and statewide Utah AHEC partners, to receive state funding is a wonderful validation of their work. We are so excited about our partnership, working together and seeing what will come from this amazing and well-deserved opportunity.”
Utah AHEC wants to ensure that health professionals of the future are equipped to meet the needs of our state with inter-professional teamwork informed by social factors driving the health of communities. Utah AHEC has been partnering with health professions programs of many institutions across the state since 1996 to encourage students to enter the healthcare field. Utah AHEC reaches thousands of K-12 students every year and offers programs for undergraduate and graduate students interested in pursuing health careers in rural and underserved Utah. AHEC has a strong track record of not only recruiting students from Utah, but retaining them here in underserved parts of the state. With this funding, AHEC envisions health inequities being tackled from primary care settings, led by graduates that track this mission as they practice their professions. Oscar Zamudio, current AHEC Scholar, commented on the funding announcement by saying, “I can't think of a better way to enhance our experience as AHEC scholars than being able to help firsthand in increasing healthcare access to the underserved.”