NAO Update
Provided as a NAO member benefit
December 10, 2012

1. From the Executive Director's Office

Washington, D.C. Update
NAO President Mary Mitchell and I had a set of productive meetings at HHS, OMB and on the Hill last week. Here's a brief summary and a number of issues for NAO and the AHEC network to consider.

We met with Director of the Division of Discretionary Programs; HHS Office of Budget. We had a good and engaged dialogue and were asked extremely thoughtful questions. There presently is a great deal of interest in:

    • What the AHEC program is doing to RIGHT NOW to improve the SUPPLY of health professionals, particularly regarding rural and underserved areas. There is a great degree of interest in SUPPLY right now at the HHS level.
    • What the AHEC Program is doing to advance the goals of the PPACA. Lots of interest here—particularly regarding community, consumer and provider education concerning the Health Insurance Exchanges. There has been some work in Colorado pertaining to HIE development, but it was made apparent and perfectly clear that demonstrating a discernible AHEC role within the context of the ACA is important. I and a few others have long thought there is a good and specific role for the AHEC network in advancing some components of the ACA. I believe we need to operationalize this.
    • How NAO defines success for the AHEC network and program. I thought this was an excellent question and one that we need to wrestle with. I've been thinking about this for some time, and I believe it warrants some very deep discussion across the network.

We met with Keith Fontenot, Associate Director for Health Programs, Office of Management and Budget; and Hester Grippando, one of his staff members:

    • The discussion focused on the fact that we're in a tough budget cycle and there is no certainty as to what the final funding levels for the President's budget for FY14 will be; only good programs remain and there will be many difficult decisions in a very tough political and economic climate (fiscal cliff, CR, potential cuts to discretionary programs, etc.).
    • Mr. Fontenot knows the AHEC program very well and is supportive; he worked in underserved communities in Virginia and West Virginia when those AHEC programs were being established years ago and he understands the capacity, reach and effectiveness of the AHEC program into underserved areas.
    • OMB reiterated what we heard at HHS: Making the case to HHS as to what the AHEC Program can offer regarding advancing the ACA is advised.

We met with a staff person for Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (WA), who is now the Senior Republican woman in the House and the new House Republican Conference Chair. We discussed her previous support of the AHEC Program and asked for support going forward in her new leadership. Interest was expressed in rural economic/healthcare job development and veterans' health issues. There was a true acknowledgement that "AHEC Stands for Jobs."

Key take-aways from the meetings for me:

-We need to wrestle with how NAO defines success (and not just the numbers) for the AHEC network and communicate it out effectively.

-Defining our role in PPACA is very important and, of course, a core focus area for HHS, which is still trying to figure implementation out—we have a role in this, particularly as it relates to community education.

-There needs to be—in some capacity—a sharp focus on IPE, healthcare workforce diversity, QI, linkages to public health, workforce supply, and having the data and outcomes to back it up. These HHS priority areas are a clear map for us and tie very well with the NAO strategic plan. It's all about aligning our national network's programmatic efforts as much as we can.

-We need to keep up our national advocacy efforts, tell our story over and over and over again, and clearly and precisely demonstrate our national successes and effectiveness.

Training for Rural Providers in Emergency Care
For those providers in rural care settings, it is now possible to obtain up-to-date training in emergency medical care. CALS (Comprehensive Advanced Life Support) is an advanced life support education program designed for rural physicians, physician's assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, and other allied health professionals (paramedics, nurse anesthetists). CALS uses a Universal Approach, is scenario-based, promotes a team environment, teaches the knowledge and skills necessary to treat life-threatening emergencies, and includes emergency management for patients across the age spectrum. The two-day course is accredited by the AAFP and a card is issued for four years. Also, in Minnesota, the CALS course includes a three-hour trauma module that if taken in addition to the two-day course by a provider of a level 3 or level 4 hospital, is accepted by the Minnesota Trauma Committee as valid for trauma education and can be used in lieu of ATLS. Check out the CALS website at For information about how you can bring CALS courses to your area or how you can take the course, call 612-626-8776. A few AHECs throughout the country have utilized this training effectively in the past.

Have a great week and I welcome your thoughts and questions.


2. NAO Annual Report: Share Your AHEC Stories! Abstracts Due January 10, 2013
The National AHEC Organization is compiling data and stories for the 2012 Annual Report, which gets published March 2013. This annual publication highlights the wide range of programs that AHEC provides the current and future healthcare workforce. Interested in having your AHEC's success story included in the 2012 edition? Develop a 50-word abstract touting one of the services your AHEC provides:

  • Health Careers Promotion/Preparation; P-16+ Pipeline
  • Health Professions Students/Residents Training; Community-Based Education
  • Health Professionals Recruitment and Retention; Practice Entry and Support
  • Continuing Education
  • Health Literacy/Promotion
  • Health and Community Development
  • Healthcare Workforce Planning and Assessment

The theme of this year's report is "AHECs – Responding to Local, State and National Healthcare Needs." We are looking for examples of how AHEC responds to identified needs in innovative and creative ways. Perhaps you revamped an old program or developed a new one in response to some change(s) in the operating environment. Or, tell us why your AHEC was best suited to respond to a particular healthcare need. If your AHEC's abstract is accepted, you will be asked to provide a 300-word article and photo (or graph) within a two-week period. E-mail abstracts to by Friday, January 10, 2013.

3. Reminder: Don't Forget about the 2013 National Health Literacy Summer Institute June 2-5, 2013
This is the premier opportunity to learn plain language skills to plan, write, and design effective, accessible information for print and web. This Institute has been sponsored by the University of New England in Maine for 22 years. See

The location is Freeport, Maine, home of LL Bean, and is just 20 minutes from Portland. The area offers wonderful venues to explore, both indoors and out—fresh seafood, great shopping, and gorgeous coast.

COST: Good news for hard times: Institute cost stays the same as 2012.
Details here:
SCHOLARSHIP: The Institute for Healthcare Advancement is offering the Len Doak Memorial Scholarship to attend both the IHA conference in May and this Institute in June 2013. Information here:

The Institute is limited to 36 participants, so register early to hold your place.
For more information, contact the Institute Director, Sue Stableford, MPH, MSB, at: or 207-221-4567.

Mission Statement: The National AHEC Organization supports and advances the AHEC Network to improve health by leading the nation in the recruitment, training and retention of a diverse health workforce for underserved communities.

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Executive Director Rob Trachtenberg | 414-908-4953 |

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