|UND addresses North Dakota's health care workforce with new $1.6 million grant|
One of the many barriers rural populations face with health care is a shortage of people working at rural facilities. Strengthening a health care workforce pipeline is a central goal of the new Dakota Area Health Education Center.
With $1.28 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Center for Rural Health and College of Nursing will develop and implement an Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Program in North Dakota.
Until now, North Dakota was one of only a few states without a federally funded AHEC, the goal of which is to help clinics and hospitals recruit and retain health care workers in underserved areas, address workforce shortages, and educate students about career options in health care.
The new Dakota AHEC, based in the UND Center for Rural Health, focuses on community-based health care training through all levels of the workforce pipeline, from elementary students to health care providers. Health career awareness programs will be developed for students in grade school and high school while new clinical opportunities will be develop for medical and nursing students at the college and graduate level.
“Models for elementary students, such as Dickinson’s Medical Explorers and Park River’s Inspector Wellness Program, are examples of efforts through the AHEC that can be spread across North Dakota communities to encourage our youth to consider health care fields,” said Mary Amundson, assistant professor at the Center for Rural Health, and director for the Dakota AHEC project. A unique aspect of the Dakota AHEC is advancing interdisciplinary training in North Dakota.
Three regional Area Health Education Centers will be developed across the East, Central and Western regions of the state to provide a variety of training experiences.
These Centers will link UND with local communities, hospitals and clinics to augment health-related training activities in each region.
“The Dakota AHEC Program is a wonderful partnering opportunity for the UND College of Nursing and the School of Medicine and Health Sciences. We will build relationships with institutions throughout North Dakota to support collaboration between academic partners and community-based programs,” said Loretta Heuer, PhD, professor at the UND College of Nursing and co-program director of the Dakota AHEC. “We’ll be able to address the primary health care workforce needs along with increasing access to health care and disease prevention to medically underserved communities in North Dakota.”
Programs will be established and extended for college students to provide awareness of health care career options as well as rural practice opportunities.
“Our goal is to improve access to the health care workforce,” said Patricia Moulton, PhD, assistant professor at the Center for Rural Health and co-director of the Dakota AHEC. “This will ultimately increase access to health care in underserved areas of North Dakota.”
Additional support for this initiative is being provided by the University of North Dakota and the Dakota Medical Foundation to equal a total of $1.6 million.
-- Wendy Opsahl, Communications Coordinator, Center for Rural Health, firstname.lastname@example.org, 777-0871