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UofL AHEC faculty, students make $6.8 million economic impact

by UofL Today last modified Feb 01, 2011 04:51 PM

The University of Louisville's efforts to help address a shortage of health care professionals and improve the quality of health care in Western Kentucky has had a $6.8 million economic impact on that part of the commonwealth.

UofL health sciences faculty and students work in four regions of Western Kentucky (56 counties) through the Kentucky Area Health Education Centers (KY AHEC) program.

Students in 11 health sciences disciplines complete clinical rotations at AHEC centers, where they receive practical, hands-on training in clinics, private offices and community hospitals.

UofL also provides physicians, dentists, nurses and other health professionals who deliver continuing education programs and support services. The KY AHEC Library Network also links them to the medical information resources available at UofL, giving them access to textbook collections, reference works, medical journals and online computer resources.

The ultimate goal is to improve the health care available in under-served areas.

Data compiled by AHEC from 2009-2010 shows that faculty from UofL donated services valued at $6,681,161, while their students spent a total of $124,363 in living and travel expenses in the KY AHEC regions the university serves.

"This report demonstrates on multiple levels how UofL is working with local communities to improve the lives of the people within the commonwealth," said UofL President James Ramsey. "We are partnering with local organizations to provide the people necessary to meet today's health care needs of underserved areas, while training future health care providers so they remain in these areas. At the same time, the financial impact of these partnerships cannot be underestimated."

Collaborations are a key to the program's success.

"Our partnerships with the community-based organizations and health care professionals in our four regions define the focus of our AHEC programs," said Faye Jones, AHEC program director and assistant dean of academic affairs at the School of Medicine. "Each regional office works with the people in that region to develop culturally appropriate programs that address the needs of that region."

Statewide, 81 of Kentucky's 120 counties are designated as federal Health Professional Shortage Areas. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has classified 100 as medically under-served areas.

Working collaboratively with UofL, the University of Kentucky Medical Center oversees KY AHEC programs in Eastern Kentucky.

KY AHEC is primarily funded by appropriations from the Kentucky General Assembly. Additional funding comes from the Health Resources Service Administration of HHS, UofL and UK. KY AHEC also receives matching and in-kind funding from a variety of national, regional and local organizations.

Congress developed the AHEC program in 1971 to recruit, train and retain a health professions workforce committed to underserved populations.

Full report (pdf)

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