Oregon AHEC Scholars

AHEC Scholars is a national program grant funded through the Health Resource & Services Administration (HRSA). The program is intended for health profession students who are serious about pursuing careers with rural and/or underserved communities after graduation. This innovative program will enroll 75 – 125 students annually from multiple universities and academic programs in Oregon. AHEC Scholars students will be instructed in concepts of Interprofessional Education (IPE), patient safety, social determinates of health, behavioral health integration, cultural competency, and practice transformation in a series of in-person and/or web-based didactic sessions designed to enhance their understanding of rural and underserved health care. Additionally, AHEC Scholars students will have the opportunity to complete community-based experiential training at rural and/or urban underserved sites across the state. In other words, AHEC Scholars presents a unique opportunity for a student to fulfill their degree requirements with an emphasis on rural and underserved health.

Eligibility Criteria

Students must be enrolled in a health profession training program in Oregon, be in good academic standing, and be willing to commit to two years of program participation prior to graduation. Interested students must complete an AHEC Scholars application, indicating their interest in and experience with rural and underserved populations and communities.

Eligible health profession programs include, but are not limited to: medical, dental, pharmacy, nurse practitioner, nursing, physician assistant, social work, physical therapy, and public/population health.

Program Learning Objectives

The Oregon AHEC Scholars program is guided by a list of Student Learning Objectives:

  1. Work with individuals of other professions to enhance a climate of mutual respect and shared values.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of team-based professional skills, roles and responsibilities in order to ensure an environment for safe, efficient and equitable care.
  3. Describe the roles, responsibilities and contributions of various health professions to patient-centered care.
  4. Communicate with team members confidently, clearly and with respect to ensure a common understanding of information and care decisions.
  5. Use the knowledge of one’s own role and those of other professions to appropriately assess and address the social and behavioral health care needs of rural and medically underserved populations.
  6. Reduce common misunderstanding about the behavioral health needs of rural and underserved populations.
  7. Improve understanding of unique cultures and values of rural and underserved communities.
  8. Communicate effectively with patients, families and the public, as appropriate, across a broad range of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds.
  9. Increase understanding of health care delivery that is responsive to the evolving needs of the health care system.
  10. Augment knowledge of health care practice redesign and Triple Aim goals.

Program Outline

AHEC Scholars is a 2-year program and students must commit to be in the program for 2 years. Entry point into the program is dependent upon each student's program with the exit point at graduation/completion of your degree.

The program is delivered in two required components each year:

  • 40 hours of didactic training related to the six core topic areas in healthcare.
  • 40 hours of community-based experiential training at rural and underserved clinics in a team based environment across the state of Oregon aimed at developing an understanding of the variety of social cultural factors influencing overall health and ability to access care.

Participation in electives, conferences and lectures, case presentations, the AHEC Scholars Journal Club, and OHSU's Community-Based Project course at Campus for Rural Health sites are all ways in which students may meet the didactic requirements each year. For a more comprehensive list of resources, please look at the Didactic Opportunities guide under Scholars Resources.

AHEC Scholars Overview


  • Participate in a multi-disciplinary team of health care professionals committed to transforming healthcare in Oregon
  • Exposure to inter-professional team based training experience
  • Scholarships and poster presentation opportunities at the Annual Oregon Rural Health Conference
  • For students awarded funding with a service obligation to the state of Oregon; the ability to rotate at a "designated service site"
  • Certificate of Completion
  • Career planning support through the Office of Rural Health including loan forgiveness and loan repayment options, access to rural job postings through www.3RNet.org & connection to HR departments in rural communities etc.
  • Faculty mentorship from those with an interest in rural and/or underserved care

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under U77HP03052 Model State Area Health Education Centers. This information of content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.