The Pennsylvania AHEC Scholars Program is a two-year program that aims to prepare health professions and allied health students to care for rural and underserved patients and other vulnerable populations. It is our goal that through this program, AHEC Scholars will approach learning and future patient care and research in a manner that is culturally competent, interprofessional, holistic, and responsive to current and emerging health needs. Scholars will learn to provide continuously improving care in a rapidly changing health care system through didactic and community-based experiential activities that focus on six core topic areas related to individual and population health, health care delivery, and health outcomes.


The program will cover the following 6 core topic areas:

  1. Interprofessional Education supports a coordinated, patient-centered model of care that involved an understanding of and respect for the contributions of multiple and interdisciplinary health care professionals working as a team.

  2. Behavioral Health Integration promotes the development of integrated primary and behavioral health services to better coordinate care and address the needs of individuals with mental health and substance use conditions.

  3. Social Determinants of Health are factors such as economic stability, educational, social and community context, health and health care, and neighborhood and built environment that impact individual and population health.

  4. Cultural Competency involves training health care providers to recognize and address the unique culture, language, and health literacy of diverse consumers and communities.

  5. Practice Transformation supports continuous quality improvement and patient-centered care through patient engagement and collaborative goal-setting, leadership and organizational change management, outcomes measurement, and streamlined workflow using tools and processes that advance team-based models of care delivery.

  6. Current and Emerging Health Issues: Specifically, obesity and opioid use disorder.

The program spans two full academic years and will include 40 hours of didactic training (interactive, online) and 40 hours of experiential learning (clinical and community based) in each year of the program.

After participating in the Pennsylvania AHEC Scholars Program, students will be able to:

  1. Understand current and pertinent issues related to rural and undeserved health care in the U.S., including historical trends, philosophies, and theoretical frameworks.

  2. Examine and explain how social determinants of health, behavioral health needs, and cultural characteristics impact individual and overall population health. 

  3. Evaluate health care performance to design, implement, and advocate for interventions that address the unique needs of individuals or defined populations and improve health outcomes, disparities, and experiences.

  4. Demonstrate the ability to communicate and collaborate effectively in inter professional teams.

  5. Develop a professional identify that is attuned to the needs of vulnerable patients and that genuinely reflects on one's own beliefs and practices.


The below schedules are tentative, and subject to change. 

Year 1 is comprised of self-paced modules to be completed during the first year. Scholars will also begin deciding on their "community-based learning experience" or consider clinical rotations in underserved communities.

Year 2 has options in which Scholars pick the modules they are interested in completing. Scholars might also choose to learn from conferences (an updated list on this website under "News"). Scholars can also engage in Mental Health First Aid training (both Youth and Adult training is available) and Poverty Simulation trainings when COVID-related guidelines allow.