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Community Enhancement

Missouri AHEC links students, graduating and practicing medical professionals to communities in need of providers. MAHEC also provides continuing professional education, medical library and digital information resource access through the MAHEC Digital Library, preceptor workshops, and other services to health professionals in rural and underserved communities. Such services help reduce professional isolation and retain providers in target areas. Additionally, AHEC provides public health awareness / community education programming directly or as a part of pre-professional or rotation related education activities.

In 2012-2013*:

  • 55 health education programs were presented by AHEC staff or aspiring health professions students to over 1,377 participants; and
  • 120 AHEC sponsored continuing education programs provided valuable close-to-home training for practicing professionals. The programs drew a total of 1,344 participants.

*The most recent year for which complete program data is available.


Life Support Training

MAHEC offers a wide range of CPR-related activities that are available to the community and to students involved in career preparation programs. CPR is an important life and job skill for community members and a foundational skill for most health professions. Incorporating both information about when and how to get help for individuals suffering a respiratory or cardiac event and skill training to learn to apply basic and advanced life support skills, MAHEC programs help involved individuals and groups be prepared to respond to emergency situations. Most of the regional centers incorporate CPR training into programming for students from middle school through undergraduate levels.

The ATSU AHEC Program Office in Kirksville, MO is home to the American Heart Association Training Center #11. The training center helps to monitor and facilitate CPR classes region wide. Annual courses in ACLS, BLS, PALS, and Heartsaver are taught to medical students, teachers, military personnel, families, etc. In many cases, the training completed in AHEC facilitated courses enables trainees to meet or continue to meet job requirements.


During the 2012-2013 program year, 71 students successfully completed CPR and life-saving skills training as part of AHEC youth recruitment programs. In addition, Northwest Missouri AHEC presented instruction on bystander CPR to more than 800 elementary school students, and several Southeastern Missouri AHEC ACES participants made a presentation on CPR to 46 of their non-ACES peers as an ACES leadership project.

During the 2012-2013 program year, the ATSU AHA training center certified/recertified 1,406 health professionals.

Centers involved in Life Support Training:

ATSU Aging Studies Project (ASP)

Since 2003, the ATSU Aging Studies Project (ASP) has been a catalyst for the ATSU response to the aging of America. ASP activities on the Missouri campus have been led and coordinated by the ATSU AHEC office which has added a strong interprofessional emphasis to MO ASP activities. ASP has 3 major programming areas: presentation of an Annual Lecture on Aging (LOA), development of modules on geriatric issues for student and faculty use, and community education and service activities that bring students into contact with older adults.

Recent topics for the annual LOA have included Alzheimer's, interprofessional care of the aged/elder care facilities, and creative aging/person-centered care. Related activities include community agency and elder advisory group meetings and receptions, student project displays, and interprofessional small group symposia on the topic of the year.

Online aging-related modules focus on topics that will increase student knowledge and understanding related to caring for elders. Fifteen modules have been developed or acquired for use by all ATSU schools, departments, and some are also available to partner organizations. Additionally, to foster student leadership development, the ASP makes modest funds available to support student and faculty education and research.

Programming for students, faculty, and community members has included such offerings as a retirement workshop, two education sessions on veterans' mental health, and a workshop on disaster preparedness for elders. In addition to learning, connections between students and community members enhance the lives of both.

ASP is guided by input from four advisory committees comprised of ATSU and Truman State University health professions faculty, community members, and community agency representatives and staffed by AHEC.

In collaboration with AHEC, ASP has helped ATSU students start an Institute for Healthcare Improvement Open School Chapter, sponsored a Patient Safety conference, and facilitates a variety of community activities including nursing home/senior housing education and service projects. Aims of the service activities are to enhance student preparation for patient education and leadership toward healthier communities.

For more information about the Aging Studies Project, visit their website at:

Results of the program:

All activities are evaluated by participants and facilitators with high levels of satisfaction indicated.

Centers implementing the program:


Other MAHEC Programs

Mobile Sim - Clinical Simulation Training

In many rural areas of Missouri, limited resources make it difficult for hospitals and clinics to establish full-time training centers. For rural health care employees, traveling to urban training centers for continuing education isn't often feasible. The University of Missouri School of Medicine and its Russel D. and Mary B. Shelden Clinical Simulation Center, in partnership with Missouri Area Health Education Centers, created a mobile simulation service, Mobile Sim, to address the training needs in rural areas. Since its launch in March 2011, Mobile Sim has provided interactive educational experiences that enhance performance and improve care for patients.


  • Three simulation mannequins: adult, infant and birthing
  • Central line placement task trainer
  • Femoral line task trainer
  • Virtual IV simulator
  • Intubation task trainer
  • Glidescope (video-assisted intubation)
  • Foley/GU task trainers
  • On-board and on-site video recording


Conduct BLS/ACLS renewals through Heart Code (self-directed interactive course)

Provide high-fidelity simulation scenarios in such areas as:

  • Health Assessment
  • High-acuity Adult Med Surgery
  • Pediatrics
  • Childbearing
  • Chronic Care
  • Leadership

Benefits of the program:

  • Hands-on learners have the opportunity to practice high-risk, low volume patient events in a controlled and safe environment
  • From nurses to paramedics to EMTs, training is catered to a variety of skill sets
  • Work alongside experienced clinical simulation professionals
  • Build improved team dynamics and promote lifelong learning
  • Enhance efficiency of care and improve quality and safety

Training continues to be scheduled throughout the state with assistance from MAHEC. For more information about this program or to schedule Mobile Sim training, visit the website:

Results of the program:

During the 2012-2013 program year, AHEC regional centers collaborated with Mobile Sim staff and host community agencies in 10 sites to make interactive simulation training available to 394 individuals.

Centers implementing the program:

Veterans Mental Health Project

The National AHEC Organization has been part of the Joining Forces Initiative chaired by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden. Our role nationally was to provide continuing education to health professionals on the behavioral health issues of our veterans/military service members of the wars of the past ten years. The goal was to reach 10,000 providers; more than 13,000 were reached by October 2013.

These programs have all varied in length, but the primary agenda for each event has been to educate providers on military culture, mental health issues seen in some of the veterans/military services members of the wars, and available resources. In 2008, Mid-Missouri AHEC held the first AHEC facilitated VMH session in Missouri in Jefferson City. More recently, as part of the national initiative, Northwest Missouri AHEC coordinated four events which reached 482 providers and students from several different target audiences. Most recently, Northeast Missouri AHEC held a veterans seminar for ATSU students.

Attendees of the events indicated that after attending this conference they will be more aware of patients that are veterans/military service members, will improve listening and communication skills, increased their awareness of resources available to veterans/military service members, wil improve their assessment skills of these patients, and learned more about the issues most common to this group of patients.

Three Missouri AHECs participated in Veteran's Administration's Mental Health Summits conducted across the US this year. At each site, participants shared information about their organizations and resources they have to offer. Southeastern Missouri AHEC participated with approximately 50 other community resource organizations in the summit held at the John J. Pershing VA Medical Center in Poplar Bluff. Northwest Missouri AHEC and West Central Missouri AHEC collaborated with the Kansas City Veterans Administration Medical Center on its summit, bringing community providers and the VA together to share limited resources.

AHECs across the country are continuing to help improve behavioral health access and services for veterans by referring local providers to the free Citizen Soldier Support Program (CSSP) online courses. These courses offer online CEU/CME for behavioral health providers, physicians, human resource professionals, and optometrists and ophthalmologists.

Results of the program:

Approximately 600 health professionals have been reached through efforts of Missouri AHEC.

Missouri AHEC Digital Library

The founding partners of the Missouri AHEC Digital Library joined forces to create a library without walls that was designed to reach out to health care professionals wherever they practice in the state of Missouri. This information service was established to support clinical practice, continuing education requirements, and enable the practice of evidence-based medicine throughout the state.

Resources in the MDL are pre-selected to support evidence based practice, clinical care information needs, and research activities for our users. They include several hundred medical and nursing journals, full text health science textbooks, comprehensive drug resources, and customizable patient education handouts.

The Missouri AHEC Digital Library is a partnership of Founding Academic Library Partner, J. Otto Lottes Health Sciences Library at University of Missouri - Columbia; and Founding Community Partner, Mid-Missouri Area Health Education Center, Rolla; and Founding Health Care Partner, Phelps County Regional Medical Center, Rolla.

Results of the program:

AHEC-supported students and preceptors, physicians and nurses at regional hospitals, community health centers, and public health departments have access to high quality, evidence-focused resources designed to answer clinical questions at the point of care.

Centers implementing the program:

Health Literacy

Building on previous work with Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH) and Health Literacy Missouri (HLM), several Area Health Education Centers continue to address the health literacy needs of consumers and professionals by identifying needs, resources, and programs that can improve the health literacy of all Missourians. AHEC provides health literacy trainings across the state to teach community members health literacy awareness, offer skill building opportunities, and to show the importance of communicating in plain language. This information has been presented to civic organizations, health profesional and pre-professional students, and community members of all ages.

Health literacy is considered important learning for ACES participants and is included as a "core" workshop.

SEMO and NEMO AHEC have been particularly active with health literacy training. In one year with funding from HLM, SEMO was able to deliver 27 presentations to 273 health care and allied health care personnel in county health departments, medical and dental offices, in-home health care agencies, FQHCs and many small rural medical clinics. The SEMO program specialist also delivered 5 public health awareness/health literacy trainings to 97 undergraduate student nurses at Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff and SE Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau. These presentations focused on increasing student awareness of the health disparities facing the residents of our region and the challenges facing both the providers and patients in understanding what each other is saying.

In 2011-2012 with funding from HLM, NEMO AHEC staff delivered 37 presentations to 406 healthcare and allied health care personnel. NEMO AHEC staff also presented health literacy programming to 19 students in the pre-dental club at Truman State University and to 27 nursing students at the Kirksville Area Technical Center, as well as presenting information on communication techniques and Health Literacy basics - "Straight Talk with Your Doc" to two consumer groups - the Senior Circle in Kirksville (46 people) and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Columbia reaching 56 additional community members.

Results of the program:

500 individuals received important health literacy information during the 2012-2013 program year due to the efforts and programs of the regional AHEC offices.

Centers implementing the program:

Nutrition Education and Cooking Classes

SWMO AHEC has partnered with the local community health center, Jordan Valley, to bring nutrition education to the local community. Jordan Valley has a state of the art kitchen facility that was not being used to its full potential and our staff has helped change that.

Classes are offered seasonally and the focus is on finding ways to eat healthier on a limited budget. How to create a weekly menu, shopping list, and stick to it are discussed. What to look for while shopping to find the best bargains is also included. The benefits of eating at home both on your pocketbook and your health are explained. Healthy recipes, tips, recipe cards, helpful handouts, and free food samples are provided. The class also emphasizes ways to decrease sodium and increase fruits and veggies in your daily diet. A full cooking demonstration of healthy seasonal recipes by a registered dietitian and samples is included in the class.

The class participants are encouraged to try new foods and recipes at home by seeing just how inexpensive and simple to make our recipes really are! Including something new that most people wouldn't try on their own is an important part of the class. Some examples so far include: various types of beans and ways they can be used, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, wild rice and quinoa, kale, and bok choy salad, as well as some interesting healthy recipe substitutions like Greek yogurt in place of sour cream, just to name a few.

Students involved in AHEC programs and Missouri State University dietetics students are encouraged to volunteer at the classes to learn more about helping their local community as well.

Results of the program:

  • Patients and staff at Jordan Valley Community Health Center and the local community and universities are able to learn about how to eat healthy and save money too.
  • During the 2012-2013 program year, 68 individuals participated in the healthy cooking classes.
  • NEMO AHEC facilitated general nutrition education programming to an additional 178 community members.

Centers implementing the program:

Disaster Preparedness

AHECs initiate Disaster Preparedness activities to help rural and underserved communities keep abreast of the latest resources and information on disaster response. Natural or man-made disasters such as flu epidemics, earthquakes, floods, tornados, fires, long-term power failures, or other such catastrophic events occur each year. AHECs can play an important role in community readiness to reduce risk and improve response to disasters.

Health professionals and community members faced with specific hazards must stay informed, plan, and prepare to work in tandem with governmental officials and disaster relief organizations to respond to emergency situations. By using the most current mitigation tools and resources available, a coordinated and efficient response plan helps reduce loss of life and offers relief shelters and health care triage, when necessary.

Community education in disaster preparedness brings together health professionals, community leaders and residents to work on the development of coordinated disaster response plans and learn the how-to's of preparing personal disaster relief kits.

For the past three years, SWMO AHEC staff have offered disaster preparedness training tailored to the needs of education programs and health care delivery organizations. This past year, SWMO AHEC staff completed advanced training in Charlotte, SC, to further enhance their knowledge and skills at implementing disaster education and training programs.

Results of the program:

SWMO AHEC staff members worked with colleges of nursing (Cox College of Nursing, Mercy College of Nursing/Southwest Baptist University) and assisted with Mercy hospital-wide preparations. SWMO planned and conducted training activities which helped prepare approximately 250 individuals to better respond to health care needs during a disaster.

Centers implementing the program:

SLU-AHEC Rodney M. Coe Service Distinction

SLU AHEC and SLU Department of Family and Community Medicine partner to sponsor this longitudinal, faculty-mentored service program. 25 to 30 students from each class are accepted into the Service Distinction Program (total of 100-200 per year).

Medical students in the Coe program:

  • Complete a minimum of 180 hours of faculty-mentored health related service over four years of medical school
  • Must complete a targeted project in their fourth year in response to a community need

This program supports:

  • Hands-on experiences to understand community health needs
  • Programs and initiatives of various community partners and schools to address community health needs
  • Development of student skills to work in urban communities of need as future physicians

Projects and community partners include:

  • Collaboration with the Maternal, Child & Family Health Coalition and Partnership for Pre-conception Health
  • Suicide Prevention Resources for Kids Under Twenty One
  • Hands on Cooking and Nutrition at Al Chappelle Community Center and Kingdom House
  • Engaging Medical Students in a Community Garden

Results of the program:

From 2003-2013, 72% of students completing the MD with Distinction in Community Service entered residency programs in Primary Care upon graduating from SLU.

Centers implementing the program: