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The Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) designates most of Oklahoma's counties as primary care health professional shortage areas. The Oklahoma Area Health Education Program (OK-AHEC) was established in 2017 to address these shortages. OK-AHEC strengthens the state's health care workforce by recruiting, training, and retaining health professionals committed to increasing access to primary care in underserved urban and rural communities.


Through a network of regional centers located in Enid, Lawton, McAlester, and Tahlequah, OK-AHEC prepares underrepresented minority and disadvantaged (URMD) youth for healthcare careers and promotes clinical training opportunities for students and provides continuing education programs for health professionals working in underserved communities.


The regional centers are locally managed by Community Advisory Boards and partnerships supported by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Oklahoma State University, Cameron University, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Comanche County Memorial Hospital, Northeastern Health System, Rural Health projects, Inc., McAlester Regional Hospital, and local foundations, academic institutions, associations, and nonprofit institutions. 



Program Goals



Increase the diversity and distribution of health professions students and practitioners through targeted training and partnerships in underserved and rural communities.



New strategic and innovative programs with statewide partners through collaborations focused on addressing health care disparities and access issues.

Practice Transformation

Practice Transformation

Expedite practice transformation in primary care urban and rural underserved community practices through strategic partnerships with local, regional, and state agencies to improve patient health outcomes.



Each of the Oklahoma AHEC centers is committed to recruiting students into health careers and supporting them on their educational journey. Programs offered at our centers concentrate on exposing Oklahomans to a wide range of health careers through a multitude of activities. Contact your local center for more information.
  • Pathful – Contact your local AHEC center for more information.
Pipeline AHEC

AHEC Scholars Program

AHEC 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 program emphasizes an online interdisciplinary curriculum that incorporates clinical, didactic, and community-based training. All experiential or clinical training occurs in rural or underserved urban settings. AHEC Scholars Program supports health professions students from various disciplines who originate or want to practice in underserved rural and urban areas.

Scholar Benefits

  • Practical experience delivering care from an interdisciplinary team-based approach that addresses health disparities in your communities
  • Participate in enhanced training experiences related to health care delivery impacting underserved communities
  • Potential for current clinical coursework to qualify as 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?

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 physicians, physician assistants, registered nurses, licensed practical nursing, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, dentists, psychologists, pharmacists, optometrists, CHWs, public and allied health professionals, or other health professionals, as practicable.


The Scholars Program has a particular interest in students from underserved, underrepresented populations and disadvantaged backgrounds. To qualify for the Scholars program, applicants should be two years from completing their current health profession program of study.



Application Period

Our application period has closed at all four center locations


Applications will open May 2024.

The program duration is two years. Each year, scholars must complete 40 hours of community-based experiential or clinical training in rural or underserved areas and 40 hours of focused didactic education in eight Core Topic Areas (see below). Clinical/experiential learning can be concurrently counted from your current health profession program of study if it meets certain requirements. All didactic education is self-paced. Scholars must attend an orientation each year of participation and agree to a follow-up evaluation one year after exiting the program.


Core Topic Areas

  • Interprofessional Education
  • Behavioral Health Integration
  • Social Determinants of Health
  • Cultural Competency
  • Practice Transformation
  • Current and Emerging Health Issues
  • Virtual Learning and Telehealth
  • Connecting Communities and Supporting Health Professionals


Center Locations

SW AHEC at Comanche County Memorial Hospital in Lawton, OK



NW AHEC at Rural Health Projects Inc. in Enid, OK



SE AHEC at McAlester Regional Hospital in McAlester, OK



NE AHEC at Northeastern Health System in Tahlequah, OK



OSU AHEC scholars hometowns



Continuing Education

Continuing education opportunities for health professionals that enhance their practices environments and helps them to provide high-quality care in underserved communities

Community Outreach

OSU AHEC partners with local organizations on joint projects and activities focused on distribution, diversity, and practice transformation of health care resources throughout the state.

Contact Us

OSU AHEC Program Office

Oklahoma State University Oklahoma City- Rural Health Office

Nicole Neilson, MS RD/LD- AHEC Program Director



OSU Center for Rural Health - Tulsa

Lauren Sparks, MS – Assistant Director



Northeastern Oklahoma AHEC

Northeastern Health System- Tahlequah

Michele Horn, BSN, RN, CEN - Center Director



Northwestern Oklahoma AHEC

Rural Health Projects, Inc. - Enid

Becky Zook - Center Director



Southeastern Oklahoma AHEC

McAlester Regional Hospital - McAlester

Christa Williams - Center Director 



Southwestern Oklahoma AHEC

Comanche County Memorial Hospital- Lawton

Monica Campbell - Center Director 

AHEC Center Sites

The Oklahoma AHEC program is jointly administered by the OSU Center for Health Sciences and the OSU Center for Rural Health. Academic Partners include the Northeastern Health System located in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, Rural Health Projects located in Enid, Oklahoma, McAlester Regional Hospital located in McAlester, Oklahoma, and Comanche County Memorial Hospital located in Lawton, Oklahoma.

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.

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