3702 Loop 322 • Abilene, TX 79602 • 325-672-8544

Area Health Education Center

Connecting Students To Health Careers – Health Professionals To Communities – Communities To Better Health

About Us

The Big Country – Area Health Education Center (BCAHEC) is provided by the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, F. Marie Hall Institute for Rural and Community Health.  The BCAHEC center is locally hosted in Abilene, TX at the West Central Texas Council of Governments (COG) and serves 28 counties across the Big Country. The BCAHEC is one of six centers under the West Texas AHEC Region. The BCAHEC is devoted to its rural and medically underserved populations serving as a resource for high school and college students, health career seekers, community members, and health care professionals interested in improving the overall health of their community. Through strategic partnerships and collaborations with academic programs, communities, and professional organizations, the BCAHEC Programs work to improve the access to quality health care, by improving the supply and distribution of healthcare professionals.

AHEC Scholars

“The West Texas AHEC Scholars Program is a program of the National AHEC Organization (https://www.nationalahec.org/) implemented by local, statewide, and regional AHECs. The program is designed for college students enrolled in various health professions programs and for those interested in receiving additional training and team-based clinical experiences working in rural areas and/or with underserved populations. The Big Country AHEC Recruits up to 30 students each year with a primary focus of selecting a diverse Cohort of individuals from underrepresented minorities, disadvantaged/rural backgrounds, and first-generation college students. AHEC Scholars is a one to two-year program and may earn up to $1,600 upon completion. Eligible students’ study must be within the WTAHEC List of Approved Disciplines and within their last two years from program completion.

The West Texas AHEC program is broken into two parts:

1st – Online Didactic Education
2nd – 40 hours of Rural/Underserved clinical rotations

AHEC Scholars receive education and training activities that support 6 core topics:
  • Interprofessional Education (also known as interdisciplinary training)
  • Behavioral Health Integration
  • Connecting Communities and Supporting Health Professionals
  • Virtual Learning and Telehealth
  • Social Determinants of Health
  • Cultural Competency
  • Practice Transformation
  • Current and emerging health issues

The Scholars Program offers a unique curriculum and students walk away with a much better understanding of their roles as a health professional and the need for health care equity amongst medically underserved and rural areas.

If a student is looking to graduate from their health professions program with distinction, they may consider applying to become an AHEC Scholar.


  • You must have an interest in rural or underserved healthcare.
  • You must be enrolled in a health professions degree or certificate program.
  • Your field of study must be on the AHEC list of Approved Disciplines.
  • You must be within the last two years of completing your degree or education program.


  • 40 rotation hours in rural/underserved and interprofessional sites. (If you are currently employed in a health care organization, work hours can be used towards rotation hour requirements.)
  • completion of self-paced online didactic study.
  • Meet all course deadlines agreed upon enrollment, to receive National AHEC Scholars Completion Certificate and Stiped Payment.
  • Update program office of any changes in education status, address, and contact information during program duration.

Pipeline Programs

Jr. Scholars

The Big Country AHEC Jr. Scholars Program is a pipeline program for high school students that are very interested in or currently engaged in a health career pathway intended to help address the unique workforce needs of the Big Country Region. The Jr. Scholars program provides creative, hands-on, and innovative health career curriculum catered to the needs of individual high schools and students. Participants have access to various health training and shadowing opportunities, AHEC hosted events, day career camps, college & hospital tours and may receive support for the purchase of scrubs, equipment, and other learning materials.

Health Career Promotion

In conjunction with and in addition to the Jr. Scholars Program, the Big Country AHEC offers health career presentations and exploration activities provided via classroom, career fairs or seminars as well as through the distribution of the Health Opportunities in Texas Job Directory

Health Opportunities In Texas

The HOT Jobs Directory is intended to serve as a resource for high school & college students, parents, academic and career counselors, and other career seekers. Learn about over 90 health career options and the colleges that offer a corresponding program in Texas, today by clicking the button below.

Community Based Education Support

The Big Country AHEC offers a wide range of support which is designed to be responsive to local health needs and serve as an important link between academic training programs and community-based outreach programs. The BCAHEC works to provide innovative and collaborate responses to addressing workforce issues, health disparities, and ultimately fill in the gaps where we are needed most. A few ways we accomplish this include:

Community Health Worker Training

The West Texas AHEC is a certified community health worker (CHW) training institution by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). The BCAHEC’s role is to recruit participants to complete the CHW training and to advocate for the CHW model which helps reduce the barriers between medical and social services and community.

Continuing Education Support

AHECs provide accredited continued education programs and professional support to meet the needs of healthcare professionals with a focus towards those practicing in rural and underserved areas.

Community Health Needs Assessments

BCAHEC works with communities and hospitals to conduct a CHNA which provides an overview of the public health conditions within a community. It also identifies existing resources and opportunities to enhance them and is often utilized by organizations as a tool to help prioritize and address their counties specified needs.

Contact Us

AHEC Administration

Terra New


Haley Stuteville

Community Based Education Coordinator