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NAO Update
January 16, 2012

1. From the Executive Director's Office
Carol Giffin-Jeansonne, executive director of the Western Colorado AHEC, and I had an exhilarating 24 hours in Washington, DC last week as part of First Lady Michelle Obama's "Joining Forces" Initiative; it was co-chaired by Dr. Jill Biden. Please take a look: We spent a great deal of time with many national healthcare association leaders, academic association partners, and high-level military leaders all working to address TBI/PTSD/Behavioral and Mental Health issues for injured veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. On Monday evening we had dinner and vibrant discussion at the house of the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, followed by multiple briefings at and a tour of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence/National Naval Medical Hospital, and then a round-table discussion at The White House kicked off by First Lady Obama on Tuesday. The energy and desire to create significant change was high, and many opportunities exist for NAO and the AHEC network to take a leadership role in supporting initiatives dedicated to enhancing Veterans' care. I will be sharing regularly with you all how this initiative advances and what opportunities may exist. 

There is a great deal of work to do to address Veterans' mental health/TBI/PTSD issues nationally, and one GREAT way to get involved is to make every effort to attend one of the remaining "Train the Trainer Workshops" in a HRSA Region near you. These trainings are vitally important. As you know, AHEC center and program staff are invited to attend a FREE 8-hour Train-The-Trainer (TTT) Workshop to learn how to organize continuing education programming for civilian healthcare providers on the behavioral/mental health issues of veterans and service members returning from combat. For additional information, please e-mail the ATrACC staff directly: I can't stress enough how important this issue is right now. Please also let me know if you have any questions regarding the Joining Forces Initiative. 

The 2012 NAO San Antonio Conference planning is in full swing, and the "Call for Presentations" and the "Award Nominations" is now up on the NAO website: We need presentation proposals, and the January 23, 2012 deadline is coming soon. If you are interested in submitting a proposal for a concurrent session or poster presentation, please do so very soon. I know most everyone is very busy with grant writing, though it should not take much time to post something via the on-line submission system. We have a great conference planned, so please be sure to get your proposal in!

Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington—all great states, of course, but what do they have in common? The AHEC in those states have not sent me a name of someone who will be a dedicated "NAO Advocacy Leader." I know that great advocacy occurs in all these states, though as we move to ensure that there is at least one dedicated advocacy leader for each state with an AHEC, I'll need a name of an AHEC leader who is willing to coordinate advocacy efforts statewide when necessary. Please let me know as soon as you can who the advocacy leader will be for the states identified above, and please also be sure to let me know if you have any questions regarding the role of the advocacy leader. We're getting there, and thanks to all those states who have provided an advocacy leader thus far; it's vitally important to have national coverage in terms of advocacy!

Have a great week,

2. Washington Highlights: First Lady, AAMC Announce Joining Forces Partnership
January 13, 2012—First Lady Michelle Obama Jan. 11 joined medical school deans and AAMC Chief Academic Officer John Prescott, MD, at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) School of Medicine to announce a Joining Forces partnership to enhance the wellness of America's veterans, service members, and their families. Joining Forces is a national initiative launched by the First Lady and Jill Biden, EdD, that mobilizes all segments of society to give service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned.

“I'm inspired to see our nation's medical schools step up to address this pressing need for our veterans and military families. By directing some of our brightest minds, our most cutting-edge research, and our finest teaching institutions toward our military families, they're ensuring that those who have served our country receive the first-rate care that they have earned,” said First Lady Michelle Obama.

As part of the Joining Forces initiative, more than 100 medical schools have pledged to mobilize their integrated missions in education, research, and clinical care to train our nation's physicians to meet the unique healthcare needs of the military service members, veterans, and their families. Participating institutions also will share the most up-to-date diagnostic and therapeutic information on traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as expand the body of knowledge leading to improvements in health care and wellness for this important patient group.

3. Hurry! Share Your AHEC Stories! Abstracts Due January 20, 2012
The National AHEC Organization is compiling data and stories for the 2011 Annual Report, which gets published in 2012. 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 2011 edition? Develop a 50-word abstracting touting one of the services your AHEC provides:

  1. Health Careers Promotion/Preparation; P-16+ Pipeline
  2. Health Professions Students/Residents Training; Community-Based Education
  3. Health Professionals Recruitment and Retention; Practice Entry and Support
  4. Continuing Education
  5. Health Literacy/Promotion
  6. Health and Community Development
  7. Healthcare Workforce Planning and Assessment

The theme of this year's report is “AHEC's Response to the Changing Healthcare Landscape.” Highlight innovative processes, new methods for data collection and reporting, or share how federal stimulus funds have enabled your AHEC to continue providing essential services. 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 20, 2012.

4. Upcoming A-TrACC Trainings

AHEC Project for Veterans/Service Members & Families Mental & Behavioral Health

Veterans Mental Health – TA Webinar 207T-A: Assessment & Treatment of Combat PTSD.
January 26, 3 PM ET
Register: )
Toll Free: 1-800-857-5166
Participants Code: 2828788#
Lieutenant Commander Erin Simmons, PhD, will discuss signs and symptoms of combat PTSD, the incidence of PTSD in veterans/service members deployed since 09/2001, and assessment measures for practitioners to use in making referrals to behavioral health specialists. Simmons is a clinical psychologist in the US Navy who has served two tours of duty in Iraq and was recently appointed Junior Psychologist for the Year.

Veterans Mental Health – TA Webinar 208T-A: Traumatic Brain Injury
February 23, 1:30 PM ET
Toll Free: 1-800-857-5166
Participants Code: 2828788#
Dr. James P. Kelly, BA, MS, MD, Director, The National Intrepid Center of Excellence, a component center of the Defense Centers of Excellence, will discuss the incidence of TBI in service members and explain strategies service members and their families use to overcome problems. Dr. Kelly is a neurologist and one of America's top experts on treating concussions.

Sick of Winter? Head to Tampa! Register NOW for this FREE Veterans Mental Health Train-The-Trainer Workshop

There's still time to register for the Region 4 Train-the-Trainer Workshop next week, January 24-25, at the Hilton Garden Inn, Tampa. Contact Christina Mathis at AHEC staff from any HRSA region can attend.

At this training, you will learn how to organize continuing education programming for civilian healthcare providers on the behavioral/mental health issues of veterans and service members returning from combat. This project is enabling AHECs to improve behavioral health services for a significantly underserved population—returning veterans/service members and their families. For the complete workshop schedule visit the A-TrACC website. To view recordings of past VMH webinars visit the A-TrACC Vets Mental Health Resource Room. For more information contact

This AHEC Veterans Mental Health Project is funded by Health Resources and Services Administration Contract No. HHSH250200900063C/0004 to the National AHEC Organization. 

5. National AHEC Organization Award Nominations
An Invitation to the AHEC Community to Recognize Our Most Outstanding Projects and Individuals

The NAO Awards Committee is now accepting nominations for the NAO Awards for Excellence, which will be presented at the 2012 National AHEC Workshop in San Antonio.

At each of the bi-annual national workshops, the National AHEC Organization recognizes projects and individuals that epitomize the AHEC spirit of excellence in five major categories:

We encourage you to visit the NAO Awards website ( and click on the individual award categories to review the criteria and instructions for nominating candidates. Only NAO members are eligible for awards, and you may nominate yourself, as sometimes, you are the person/organization who best knows your work. No individual or organization may receive more than one award in any one year.

The deadline for nominations is March 14, 2012.

For further information about the 2012 NAO AHEC Awards, please contact either of the Awards Committee co-chairs:

Suzanne Matthew, PhD
Northern Wisconsin AHEC
Ph: 715-849-2432
Tom Bacon, DrPH
North Carolina AHEC Program
Ph: 919-966-8981

6. It's Not Too Far Away: Mark Your Calendars for the NAO Annual Conference in San Antonio, TX July 29-August 2, 2012
Plan on enjoying networking opportunities and informative presentations on a variety of topics! Stay tuned for more details on this exciting conference!

7. Maine 2012 Health Literacy Summer Institute
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 20 years. Click here for info.

Dates:  June 3-6, 2012
Location:  Freeport, Maine, home of LL Bean, and just 20 minutes from Portland. The area offers wonderful venues to explore, both indoors and out—fresh seafood, great shopping, gorgeous coast.

Good news for hard times: Institute cost stays close to 2006 price.
See details 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.

8. Online Call for Presentations Due January 23, 2012
The Conference Planning Committee for the National AHEC Organization (NAO) 2012 Conference invites you to submit a proposal for a concurrent session or poster presentation for the conference scheduled for July 29–August 2, 2012 in San Antonio, TX.

The conference theme for 2012 is AHECs in the Changing Healthcare Landscape. The goals of the conference are: 1) to provide practical skills and information to implement or improve AHEC-sponsored programs; 2) to enhance the professional development of AHEC directors, staff and board members; and 3) to enable participants to develop new approaches that advance the AHEC mission.

Proposals are to be submitted online this year. Please click on the following link to access the online submission system:

Note that the deadline for submission is January 23, 2012.

9. Centennial CO AHEC Annual Nurse Educator Conference in the Rockies July 18-21, 2012; Abstracts Wanted by January 30, 2012
Centennial (CO) AHEC's Annual Nurse Educator Conference in the Rockies will be held in Breckinridge July 18-21, 2012. Keynote: Peter I. Buerhaus, PhD, RN, FAAN of Vanderbilt University.

We are calling all those into nursing education to submit podium and poster presentation abstracts. Submission deadline is January 30, 2012. Click here for details or go to

10. Support for National and Regional Healthcare Programs Aetna Foundation
The Aetna Foundation is dedicated to promoting wellness, health, and access to high-quality health care for everyone, while supporting the communities the company serves. The Foundation funds proposals having national impact and relevance, as well as regional proposals that impact specific regions, states, or communities. The Foundation provides grants through the following program areas: The Obesity program focuses on addressing the rising rate of obesity among U.S. adults and children. The Racial and Ethnic Health Care Equity program promotes equity in health care for common chronic conditions and infant mortality. The Integrated Health Care program aims to advance high-quality health care by improving care coordination among healthcare professionals, creating informed patients, and promoting affordable care. National grants of up to $250,000 are awarded; regional grants generally range from $25,000 to $50,000, with a limited number of grants of up to $150,000. Letters of intent may be submitted at any time. The application deadlines for full proposals are February 15, May 15, August 15, and November 15, annually. Visit the Foundation's website to learn more about the funding guidelines and application process.

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