Health Education Center at UM to Celebrate 10 Years

September 05, 2018

MISSOULA – The Western Montana Area Health Education Center at the University of Montana will celebrate its 10-year anniversary with an open house at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7, at Missoula College, located at 1205 E. Broadway St.

The WMT-AHEC, one of five Montana AHEC offices, connects students to careers, professionals to communities and communities to better health.  

“The health care workforce needs of today and the future are what we at WMT-AHEC are focused on,” said Barry Kenfield, WMT-AHEC chief operating officer. “Facilitating opportunities for both the ‘traditional’ and ‘nontraditional’ student to pursue careers in health care is our goal. We do so through our partnerships with the numerous teaching programs, health care organizations and other entities interested in supporting health care workforce initiatives.”

WMT-AHEC opened its doors in the UM College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences in 2008, with a staff of two, under the direction of Larry White. White retired in 2013, and this past summer, WMT-AHEC moved its offices to Missoula College, where it remains under the direction of Kenfield and has expanded its staff to seven.

Congress developed the AHEC program in 1971 to recruit, train and retain a health professions workforce committed to rural and underserved populations. Montana AHEC is funded, in part, through a federal Health Resources Services Administration grant.

Between 2007 and 2012, the central AHEC Program Office, located in Bozeman, initiated and developed the five regional AHEC centers. Each regional center works to develop health care workforce strategies and consists of a director/program manager, support staff and an established regional advisory council. Montana AHEC regional centers serve as clearinghouses and disseminators of health information to schools, families, medical students and professionals, and to the communities in which they operate.

WMT-AHEC milestones include the feasibility study and establishment of the Family Medicine Residency of Western Montana; the creation of the Rural Behavioral Health Primary Care Collaborative, which was recognized by the National Rural Health Association in 2013; the establishment of HealthCARE Montana, a three-year program funded through the federal Department of Labor and Industry; the Behavioral Health Workforce Program, an education and training program for Montana University System graduate behavioral health students; and, most recently, the AHEC Scholars Program, an interprofessional certification program for Montana University System health profession students.

WMT-AHEC also coordinates the Friday Medical Conference, a grand rounds lecture series for Montana health professionals and health profession students; hosts MedStart, a one-week, summer high school health care career immersion program; and hosts the biannual Montana Pain Conference.

For more information visit http://www.wmtahec.org/.

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Contact: Martha Robertson, program coordinator, UM Western Montana Area Health Education Center, 406-243-7946, martha.robertson@umontana.edu.