Maine AHEC graduates inaugural class of AHEC Scholars

Shelby Clare, DPT

The Maine Area Health Education Center (AHEC) at the University of New England is proud to announce its inaugural cohort of health professions students who will graduate with an Honors Distinction in Caring for the Underserved.  Four students from UNE’s Westbrook College of Health Professions and College of Graduate and Professional Studies have completed the two-year curriculum and will graduate as Maine AHEC Scholars.  The students are Shelby Clare, DPT; Sarah Farrugia, BSW; Anna Prokity, DPT (photo not submitted); and Samuel McClean, MPH.

Samuel McClean, MPH

Sarah Farrugia, BSW

The Maine Area Health Education Center (AHEC) is a workforce development program whose mission to alleviate health workforce shortages in Maine’s underserved and rural communities.  In 2018, the new 5-year AHEC guidelines required all AHECs to develop an AHEC Scholar program to supplement students’ education by providing additional knowledge and experience in rural and underserved urban settings. In Maine, the AHEC Scholar program is called the Care for the Underserved Pathway (CUP) AHEC Scholar Honor Distinction program. 

The graduating students will enter the workforce as AHEC Scholars along with hundreds of other AHEC Scholars from around the country. The graduates will bring with them a better understanding of underserved medicine, which was delivered through a two-year 160 hour curriculum that all AHEC Scholars are required to complete which includes, in part, a weeklong rural health immersion and a 6-12 week clinical experience in an underserved community.  “The CUP AHEC Scholars program has been one of the most meaningful components of my education at UNE. As a working professional who was also pursing a graduate degree, the interprofessional and community immersion experiences that I had with this program directly translated to my role as a health educator at Maine General Medical Center and has helped me grow as an employee and member of my community.”, says Sam McClean, MPH. 

There are nine health professions programs from the University of New England who participate in the CUP AHEC Scholar Honors Distinction program.  Next year, Maine AHEC expects to graduate 60 students as students from the other health professions programs complete their coursework. Participating health professions programs include Dental Hygiene, Nursing, Physician Assistant, Physical Therapy, and Social Work from the Westbrook College of Health Professions; the College of Dental Medicine; the College of Osteopathic Medicine; and public health from the College of Graduate and Professional Studies. 

By Ian Imbert, Maine AHEC Scholar Program Manager