Regional Healthcare Workforce Development
Programs for youth, healthcare students, and healthcare professionals.
Congress created the AHEC (Area Health Education Centers) program in 1971 as a way to recruit, train, and retain a workforce of health professionals who are committed to working with underserved populations.
Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Rio Grande, and Saguache Counties are designated as medically underserved areas by HRSA as having too few primary care providers, high infant mortality, high poverty, or a high elderly population. Much of the region is also designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs), including Primary Care, Dental Health, and Mental Health Geographic HPSAs, Primary Care and Dental Health Low Income Population HPSAs, and Primary, Dental, and Mental Federal Qualified Health Center and Rural Health Clinic HPSAs. In summary, the San Luis Valley does not have enough healthcare workforce to work with our high needs populations.
To help address this workforce shortage, the San Luis Valley Area Health Education Center (SLV AHEC) supports pipeline training programs to grow our own future health care professionals to work with vulnerable communities; we work to increase community-based health professions training; we aim to increase diversity within our workforce; and we support communication between community and academic partners.
AHEC Scholars Program
Allowing healthcare students to stand out from the crowd.
A two-year program offering didactic and experiential interprofessional activities for local healthcare students. AHEC Scholars will be nationally known as possessing a desirable set of competencies.
With a program designed and funded by the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and with online curriculum designed by the Colorado AHEC program of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, this is a great opportunity for local healthcare students enrolled in specific programs at Adams State University and Trinidad State Junior College.
Click above to learn more or to apply. Watch the video about the AHEC Scholars program in the San Luis Valley, below.
Clinical Rotations in the San Luis Valley
The AHEC can arrange for affordable housing opportunities and other support
Colorado's San Luis Valley is an excellent place to spend time on clinical rotation. With caring preceptors and quality healthcare facilities, you can immerse yourself in a unique culture and relaxed rural surroundings.
Spanning 8,000 square miles, the San Luis Valley is the world's largest alpine valley. The average altitude is 7,500 feet. Everywhere you go here, majestic mountains surround the many attractions and provide the ultimate environment for the outdoor enthusiast.
With an old and unique cultural fabric that cannot be experienced anywhere else, and a peaceful and slow-paced environment, many medical professionals have decided to leave the stress of the city and relocate to the Valley after graduation
Let us know a little about you and your plans for a rural rotation, and we will try to find you affordable housing that fits your needs. Please fill out and submit the form below or contact us to find out more about your future clinical rotation in the San Luis Valley!
AHEC Careers Exploration Program (ACE)
In recent years, participating students experienced Summertime meetings, and traveled to the Anschutz Medical Campus for hands-on learning opportunities. All activities are free of charge to the student and their family.
For decades, the SLV AHEC has offered high school students a unique experience to prepare them for a career in healthcare. The AHEC Careers Exploration Program (ACEP) is a statewide initiative modeled after the SLV AHEC's own formerly-named Grow Your Own Summer Health Careers Institute and Student Health Careers Guild. This model is a locally-created, established, results-driven program for high school students in the pursuit of health careers. It has been an important part of SLV AHEC programming since 1979.
A study of this program was completed in 2008 that surveyed 25 years of program participants. The results found that 44% of high school students who have participated in this program are today employed in a health careers occupation, and 94% of students who completed the program went on to obtain a college education.
Offerings for Professionals
Utilizing national, statewide, and local experts as lecturers and consultants, the SLV AHEC works closely with local hospitals, clinics, health centers, and educational institutions to deliver targeted information that is deemed by local partners to be the most pertinent to our regional providers.
Some recent lectures are available to view in their entirety, below:
Working With Individuals Who Are Transgendered
In this lecture, Dr. Brian Bost, MD MPH, presented to healthcare professionals about transgender health on 8/20/2020. Note that this is "for mature audiences only," as it includes some images of of genitalia before and after gender reassignment surgery.
The slides from the presentation can be downloaded by clicking HERE.
Opioid Information for Medical Professionals
Due to the opioid epidemic, in recent years a focus has been on pain management and opioid prescribing. The SLV AHEC arranged for experts to present on these issues. You may view these presentations below:
Click above to watch a presentation given to medical providers in July, 2020.
Medication-assisted treatment 201: Trends & topics
On May 30, 2019, Dr. Josh Blum of Denver Health presented on "opioid tapering and discontinuation, intro to opioid use disorder, and medication assisted treatment, followed by Dr. Sarah Christensen of Denver Health who presented on "Advanced concepts in MAT provision" (with case studies encouraged). The entire presentation is available above.
When chronic opioid therapy is no longer therapeutic.
In January of 2016, the SLV AHEC hosted Dr. Joshua Blum, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Denver Health and Hospitals, who presented on the identification and treatment of opioid use disorders in primary care. The full presentation can be watched above.
Pain management: Marijuana, opioid use disorder, and chronic pain updates.
The SLV AHEC hosted TED-style talks on June 27, 2018, providing healthcare professionals with the latest information on cannabis for pain, opioid use disorders, and pain procedures. The presenters were Doctor Joshua Blum, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Denver Health and Doctor Jonathan Clapp, MD, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Centura Health. This event was possible through assistance by the CDPHE, the CDC, the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention, the Colorado AmeriCorps Community Opioid Response Program, and other partners.
The presentations are available in their entirety, below.
Addressing chronic pain, behavioral health, and treatment of substance abuse.
In September of 2014, the SLV AHEC hosted a series for healthcare professionals about chronic pain. In Part One, available below, Dr. Josh Blum, MD, Denver Health and Hospitals, addressed chronic pain assessment, common features, and non-opioid modalities. In Part Two, below, Dr. Blum and Alice Vienneau, LCSW, Park Hill Family Clinic, Denver Health, focused on behavioral and mental health to manage chronic pain in patients. In Part Three, below, Dr. Blum addressed chronic opioid therapy (COT), and managing substance abuse.
Learn and share with other professionals in your field
The SLV AHEC supports the work of ECHO Colorado to bring unique, cooperative learning experiences designed to help spread knowledge and understanding about specific topics among professionals.
ECHO educational series are available free-of-charge to professionals in the San Luis Valley. ECHO sessions combine the interactive learning and case-based sharing aspects of an in-person training with the improved access and convenience of connecting through an audio and video-based online experience.
Participants have the opportunity to interact with thought leaders and experts in health and health-related fields, and to discuss best practices around a topic with peers.
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The Nightingale Awards event was founded in 1985 to honor nurses who best exemplify the philosophy and practice of Florence Nightingale. Registered Nurses throughout the state are nominated by solicitation from the Colorado Area Health Education Centers in the fall of each year. Each region hosts a local event for the nominees. Finalists are selected by the regions and forwarded to the State Selection Committee, who determines the recipients. Nurses are nominated by their peers, supervisors and people they have cared for in our community.
The Nightingale Luminaries represent the best of more than 60,000 registered nurses in Colorado and are recognized for their leadership, advocacy, and innovation. What the nurses have in common is their commitment to actions and outcomes in caring for their patients, their profession, and their communities.
For information on how to nominate a Nurse, please contact Charlotte at 719-589-4977 x 21.