Skip Navigation
Oklahoma State University

OSU Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Program

AHEC LogoThe Health Resources and Services Administration recently awarded the OSU Center for Health Sciences a five-year grant to establish a new Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Program. Oklahoma lost its sole AHEC program over five years ago. The OSU Center for Health Sciences will host the new program office in Oklahoma City with regional offices in Enid, Lawton, and Tahlequah. The host institutions for the regional offices are Rural Health Projects, Inc. in Enid, Comanche County Memorial Hospital in Lawton, and Cherokee Health Partners in Tahlequah.

OSU will receive $228,000 for the first year to plan program activities and curriculum. Funding for years two through five will be approximately $740,000 per year with 75 percent of the funds distributed to the regional center offices.

The program will include inter-professional training in community-based settings to diverse cohorts of students enrolled in various health professions training programs. The anticipated impacts of the project are to increase the diversity and cultural competency of the primary care workforce, improve workforce distribution in rural and underserved areas of Oklahoma, and develop a high-functioning workforce that can thrive in and adapt to new modes of care delivery.

Questions? Contact Us

Nicole Neilson, M.S., RD/LD
Program Director

What is the AHEC Scholars Program?

AHEC Scholars is a nationally recognized certificate program that can set you apart.

AHEC Scholars LogoAHEC Scholars is a program for health professions students interested in supplementing their education by gaining additional knowledge and experience in rural or underserved urban settings. This is a longitudinal program with interdisciplinary curricula to implement a defined set of clinical, didactic, and community-based activities. All experiential or clinical training will be conducted in rural or underserved urban settings.

This program is designed to increase the number of skilled and culturally competent health professions students in rural and underserved areas. AHEC Scholars will practice interprofessional collaboration to join a well-prepared, diverse, and culturally competent primary care workforce demonstrating team-based care to improve patient outcomes.

Scholar Benefits

  • The program emphasizes an interdisciplinary team-based approach to address health disparities in your communities
  • Enhance healthcare knowledge in clinical and community settings
  • Participate in enhanced training experiences related to health care delivery impacting underserved communities
  • Some of your current clinical coursework may qualify for AHEC Scholars credit
  • AHEC Scholars curriculum can be completed at no cost and complements your existing coursework
  • Train on topics of leadership, communication, and critical thinking
  • Improved employability skills
    • Resume review
    • Resume building opportunities
    • Job interview preparation
    • Introduction to area health organizations
  • Receive an official AHEC Scholars certificate and letter of completion

Who is eligible to participate?

  • Current interest in rural or underserved healthcare
  • Be currently enrolled in a college-level health professions education training program in Oklahoma, maintain a 2.5 GPA, and be two years from program or degree completion

The program is open to students in disciplines that support primary health care services delivery in both clinical and non-clinical roles.  Applicable majors include but are not limited to: medicine; community and public health; nutrition and dietetics; pharmacy; nursing; dental; optometry; communication sciences and disorders; social work; and counseling.  The program has a special interest in students from underserved, under-represented populations, and disadvantaged backgrounds.

What are the commitments?

Program duration is two years and each year includes the following, for a total of 160 hours:

  • Must attend the online orientation
  • 40 hours annually of community-based, experiential, or clinical training in a rural or underserved area
  • 40 hours annually of didactic education (focused on six Core Topic Areas)
  • Core Topic Areas
  1. Interprofessional Education
  2. Behavioral Health Integration
  3. Social Determinants of Health
  4. Cultural Competency
  5. Practice Transformation
  6. Current and Emerging Health Issues: The Opioid Crisis
  • Complete a follow-up evaluation one (1) year after exiting the program
  • Sign up and maintain a free Connect US Health account

Center Locations

SW AHEC at Comanche County Memorial Hospital in Lawton, OK

NW AHEC at Rural Health Projects in Enid, OK

NE AHEC at Cherokee Health Partners, LLC in Tahlequah, OK


This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under U77HP31121 Point of Service Maintenance and Enhancement, with an annual award amount of $383,407 and a 100% non-federal match. This information or 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.