Northern Vermont AHEC Receives $2 Million Grant to Diversify Health Workforce

Source: Northern Vermont AHEC

Vermont Business Magazine Northern Vermont AHEC has received a $2 million grant from the federal Office of Minority Health, Partnerships to Achieve Health Equity program to lead a three-state initiative in northern New England aimed at increasing the diversity of the health workforce. The project will begin in Vermont this fall for 9th through 12th grade students at Winooski and Burlington High Schools with the HERO (Health Education Resources Opportunity) program.  HERO will offer science enrichment and health careers exploration in partnership with the UVM Larner College of Medicine.  University of Vermont students and health care professionals will guide and encourage HERO participants as they prepare for college and career. Outreach to parents and families will be an important component of the program.

Naina Kami of Essex Junctions examines a simulated patient at a Vermont AHEC event. Courtesy Photo.

Nicole LaPointe, Executive Director of the Northern Vermont AHEC says, “This is an opportunity to significantly improve the quality and impact of AHEC’s health workforce development programs.  We need motivated and talented students from underrepresented backgrounds to succeed in order to meet the future health workforce needs in Vermont.”

Cultural and language diversity in health care improves the quality of care and increases access to health services.  Maria Mercedes Avila, PhD, MSW, Director of the Vermont LEND Program and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at UVM Larner College of Medicine, said of the project, “This will provide underrepresented students a unique opportunity to be part of health and science fields.  I look forward to supporting this initiative.”

The Northern New England Health Workforce Diversity Partnership includes the Area Health Education Center (AHEC) networks of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, as well as numerous community and institutional partners.  Over the next five years, the partners will work together to create health workforce pipeline programs reaching students from underrepresented social and cultural backgrounds.

For more information about this and other health career exploration programs offered by the Vermont AHEC Network, contact Northern Vermont AHEC at sends e-mail) and Southern Vermont AHEC at sends e-mail). Students and educators can also find resources for exploring health careers online at is external).  


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