The Area Health Education Center for Western Washington works with the national AHEC movement to support healthcare delivery systems and access to care through activities that strengthen the healthcare workforce in rural and urban-underserved communities.
The Area Health Education Center for Western Washington is an innovative center, providing leadership engaged with diverse rural and urban-underserved communities to ensure access to quality healthcare and health workforce education.
- Health, wellness, and education as the foundation for the vitality and sustainability of communities
- Balanced mental and physical health, as well as social determinants of health, are important factors in promoting health and wellness
- Creative and innovative community-centered programs and services
- Stewardship of equity and the right of all people to access quality healthcare and education
- Working with intention to make the greatest impact with the resources available
- Accountability to the rural and urban-underserved communities to listen and serve their needs
- Strength in diversity – healthcare and educational programs that are inclusive and empowering
- Strength in partnerships to work towards common goals and use resources efficiently and effectively
In partnership with the University of Washington and Department of Health, objectives are accomplished through collaboration with communities, public health and healthcare agencies, education organizations, providers, and government decision-makers. The Area Health Education Center will improve rural and urban-underserved communities in western Washington by:
Improving Healthcare Education
- Providing education and training to healthcare professionals focusing on whole person care (including physical, behavioral, environmental, and social determinants of health)
- Identifying emerging trends in health care strategies and address training needs for healthcare providers
- Leveraging resources and funds for training and workforce development
- Collaborating with communities, healthcare professionals, educators, students, agencies, and organizations to improve the health and education of rural and urban-underserved populations
Improving Healthcare Workforce Distribution
- Diversifying the healthcare workforce
- Promoting innovation that supports the work of healthcare professions and reduces disparities in workforce distribution
- Recruiting health care professionals for underserved populations and areas
- Promoting health care professional retention activities
Improving Healthcare Access
- Promoting the physical and mental wellbeing of individuals and communities
- Coordination of physical and behavioral health with social services to improve health outcomes
- Responding to regional needs to improve access to health care
- Promoting state and federal policies that support for community needs
AHECWW aligns its work with the HRSA AHEC Scholars six Core Topics:
- Interprofessional Education (also known as interdisciplinary training) which supports a coordinated, patient-centered model of health care that involves an understanding of the contributions of multiple health care professionals.
- Behavioral Health Integration which promotes the development of integrated primary and behavioral health services to better address the needs of individuals with mental health and substances use conditions.
- Social Determinants of Health includes five key areas (determinants) of economic stability, education, social and community context, health and health care, and neighborhood and built environment, and their impact on health.
- Cultural Competency* which seeks to improve individual health and build health communities by training health care providers to recognize and address the unique culture, language and health literacy of diverse consumers and communities.
- Practice Transformation which aims to fully support quality improvement and patient-centered are through goal-setting, leadership, practice facilitation, workflow changes, measuring outcomes, and adapting organizational tools and processes to support new team-based models of care delivery. AHEC programs are expected to develop and implement educational and training activities and build and strengthen strategic partnerships. Educational and training activities under practice transformation must target the specific skills and competencies needed to prepare students and practicing health professionals to effectively practice in a transforming health care system.
- Current and emerging health issues such as Zika virus, opioid abuse, etc
*AHECWW prefers the term cultural humility, which acknowledges that mastery of a finite body of knowledge may not be appropriate. Instead, cultural humility invites us to practice the lifelong commitment to self-evaluation, redressing power imbalances, and developing mutually beneficial advocacy partnerships with communities. (Definition adapted from Tervalon & Murray-Garcia, 1998)