For the Cumberland Times-News
CUMBERLAND — Rural communities often have unique health care needs, including accessibility issues, a lack of health care providers and growing percentages of uninsured and underinsured citizens.
Western Maryland Area Health Education Center offers a wide array of activities and programs to fulfill their mission “to improve access to and promote quality in health care through educational and other.” To shed some light on these issues, WMAHEC is celebrating National Rural Health Day on Thursday.
Established in 1976 as a link between the academic re-sources of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, other major academic health centers and local community organizations, WMAHEC is the state’s longest running AHEC. It has established a strong network of health professions caucuses that support the training and education efforts of the agency. WMAHEC serves Maryland’s Appalachian counties — Allegany, Garrett and Washington — as well as Frederick County and the surrounding tri-state area.
WMAHEC offers health careers pipeline programs to increase the number of minority and disadvantaged students in the region who enter and graduate from health professions education programs, as well as increase the number of students from other areas who choose to practice in Western Maryland.
Exploring Careers in Health Occupations provides high school students with educational support and job training skills to nurture an interest in health careers. Clinical education provides clinical rotations for health professions students to experience health care in a rural setting and to encourage them to practice in an underserved area.
Continuing education courses and training programs provide health professionals in the WMAHEC service area with vital licensing and other educational opportunities.
WMAHEC secured funding to develop and implement two regional networks. Garrett-Allegany Health Workforce Development Network strategizes and implements sustainable solutions to reducing critical shortages of community-identified health professions disciplines.
WMAHEC’s Learning Re-source Center is a primary access library of the National Library of Medicine offering literature searching and document delivery to area health professionals. WMAHEC also contracts with area hospitals to provide medical library services.
Geriatrics education programs are offered in collaboration with Geriatrics and Gerontology Education and Research Program at the University of Maryland with interdisciplinary training for health professions students, continuing education for health professionals and caregivers, educational resources and aging awareness and geriatrics career opportunities for high school students.
Another current WMAHEC program is community health promoter training through a contract with Allegany Health Right’s is Regional Oral Health Pathway, a program also funded by HRSA that also provides direct dental services for low-income and uninsured residents.
For more information, call 301-777-9150 or visit www. wmahec.org.