The Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences is one of two medical schools
in Oklahoma. Oklahoma AHEC, established in 1984, strives to meet the health professional
training needs in Oklahoma by cooperating and collaborating with health professional training
programs across the state and across disciplines. With successive changes in leadership at
OSU-CHS, and at OKAHEC, the AHEC Program in Oklahoma has established itself as an important
component for facilitating, and advocating for, community-based health professional training.
The OKAHEC Network is made up of four regional Centers - in Poteau (SE), Tulsa (NE), Lawton (SW),
and Enid (NW), an affiliated clinic and training site in a public housing project in Tulsa, and
the Program Office on the campus of OSU-CHS, also in Tulsa. Twenty-five persons are currently
employed in the OKAHEC Program Network statewide. The OKAHEC Program has three main objectives:
1) assure awareness and familiarity on the part of minorities and disadvantaged persons with
health career as options, 2) support community based multidisciplinary clinical training in rural
and underserved areas, and 3) support existing health professionals and communities. A “Path”
Model (get ‘em, train’ em, keep’ em) has been developed to assist the OKAHEC Network to
conceptualize how awareness, training and community support fit together and reinforce each
other. Oklahoma has significant issues to overcome if we are to assure
an adequate supply of qualified health professionals in rural and underserved communities.
OKAHEC has always been a strong advocate for rural Oklahoma communities in providing information,
training and technical assistance to consumers and professionals, and OKAHEC has in recent years
assumed more responsibility for clinical training of medical, PA, and nursing students. OKAHEC
made significant gains in addressing its primary objectives during the past funding period as
evidenced in output, capacity and recognition, and seeks refunding at a moderately increased
level to assure that OKAHEC can continue to respond to increased expectations and demands.
Additional funds will primarily be spent on personnel resulting in an increase in career
exploration programming throughout Oklahoma, extension of clinical training opportunities into
more communities for more students, and a renewed emphasis on clinical continuing education.
The primary objectives of OKAHEC for the funding cycle FY 2002-2004 include: 1. Assure awareness
and familiarity by minorities and disadvantaged persons of health career options by increasing
the number of participants in its Health Careers Exploration programs by 10% per year over the
baseline. 2. Support community-based clinical training for health trainees in rural and
underserved areas by increasing the number of health professional trainees in AHEC sponsored
training experiences by 5% per year over the baseline. 3. Support communities and health
professionals in rural and underserved areas by increasing participation at continuing education
and consumer training programs by 10% and 5% respectively each year over the baseline.
Each of these major objectives are supported with a number of sub-objectives. Each OKAHEC Center
and the Program Office have specific responsibilities for accomplishing these objectives. A
significant component of all the major objectives of the OKAHEC Program is linkage with other
organizations and agencies. OKAHEC has made major gains in its evaluation system. Devising a
comprehensive system whereby demographic, site, and tracking data are accurately collected and
reported is a challenge that OKAHEC will continue to address.