Area Health Education Center of Southwest Oregon (AHECSW) was established as the fourth AHEC in the State of Oregon in 1994.
AHECSW is a non-profit organization that partners with key organizations in underserved or unserved communities in order to "improve the health of people in southwest Oregon". Community members in Oregon's rural areas are in need of sustainable healthcare. The State of Oregon identifies southwest Oregon as a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA), Simply put -- there are not enough healthcare providers to adequately meet all of the healthcare needs of the community. In addition, the majority of healthcare providers currently practicing medicine in southwest Oregon are close to retirement age. It is essential that these rural communities begin to build back up their supply of future healthcare providers.
One of the most effective ways that AHECSW helps these communities meet their healthcare needs and build their supply of future healthcare providers is through healthcare education initiatives. AHECSW developed a community education system of delivery called the Sustainable Community Model (SCM) to educate and train students to encourage them to become healthcare providers, specifically in rural communities through strategic and immersive volunteer programs. In addition to this successful initiative, AHECSW works in collaboration with Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) to place medical students in rural areas that are then mentored by local physicians. During these rotations, the students are completely immersed into the rural medical lifestyle.