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.

Established in 1993, West Florida AHEC is affiliated with the University of Florida AHEC Program, part of the Florida AHEC Network and is 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 has over this past decade, addressed the primary health care needs of Florida’s most vulnerable populations through a s series of innovative strategies designed to extend academic health resources, provide information and support for community providers, influence health professions education and the future health professional work force.