Closure of Iowa AHEC Program

June 24, 2013

It is with mixed sentiment that we announce the closure of the Iowa AHEC Program, effective Aug. 31, 2013. The Iowa AHEC Program was initiated out of a desire to develop and encourage primary care providers to serve Iowa’s most vulnerable populations and rural communities. The Iowa Health Careers website was a project created and managed by the Iowa AHEC Program.

The pursuit of federal support and engagement of the national AHEC network enabled us to establish solid partnerships with community-based hospitals to host regional AHEC efforts and expand best-practice programmatic capacity across Iowa’s geography. We introduced students to the variety of healthcare careers available to them, we helped establish clinical placements for health profession students in the geographic areas most in need of health professionals, and we provided continuing education to enhance provider’s capacity to serve the underserved. We firmly support the “grow your own” mentality and have witnessed its success time and time again.

However, for AHEC programs to grow, thrive and truly impact the health workforce and delivery system, significant resources are required. Ideally, resources are diverse, coming from federal, state, regional and local sources. Although acknowledgement and appreciation of our program’s impact throughout the State has expanded each year, the Iowa AHEC Program has faced significant challenges as we endured through the recent recession when everyone was striving to do more with less, persevered through a year of federally approved but unfunded status, and continued in an authorized but not appropriated status for a number of years at the state level.

As we quickly approach the end of a grant year, we recognize the reality of continued and significant fiscal challenges. With a multitude of present staffing vacancies, we embraced the opportunity to step back and carefully assess the wisdom of filling positions within a fiscally perilous program and the true viability of the program’s ability to grow over time versus merely surviving. After thoughtful deliberations and collaboration with key leadership, the decision was apparent.  The Iowa AHEC Program will close effective Aug. 31, 2013.

We are incredibly grateful to the community-based hospital partners who have served as hosts for regional AHECs, to the volunteer Advisory Board members who have dedicated time and effort toward supporting the regional AHECs, to our academic partners who have financially and programmatically supported state-wide efforts, to our National AHEC Organization network who enabled our state to replicate best-practice programs, to our programmatic partners who supported activity implementation at the community level, and to the thousands of AHEC participants who have engaged in a host of activities through the years.

Our efforts moving forward through Aug. 31, 2013, will be targeted toward exploring transitional options for the variety of programs and activities that have been well received with significant impact in enhancing the healthcare workforce. The critical importance remains in addressing primary care workforce shortages, and we will make every effort to assist our stakeholders in continuing this initiative.

 

 

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