Recently in Central MN AHEC Category

After presenting at the 2011 PIN (Partners in Nursing) Annual Meeting, Laurissa Stigen, Central MN AHEC Executive Director, and Wendy Merrick, Program Director, West Central Initiative, were recently chosen to be featured in the PIN Point Newsletter (Vol. 4, Issue 1) for an interview highlighting their perspectives regarding the way we choose to share our stories within communities, including the terminology that we use in framing health care so that facilities and specific health issues are identifiable, positive and relevant in the communities we serve.

For the full story click on the PDF here:
PIN Point_ Vol. 4 No. 1.pdf

Health Care Career Cruise

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The Central MN AHEC coordinated a bus trip for 9th-12th grade students to aid in their exploration of health careers by visiting the Health Careers Center at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus on February 20, 2012. Fifty-five students from communities across the Central MN AHEC region participated in the event - the bus was full!


This trip was made possible through a MDH Health Care Careers Promotion Grant awarded to Lakes Country Service Cooperative.

AHEC Funding Update for FY13

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On Monday, February 13th, President Obama submitted his FY13 budget proposal to the U.S. Congress. The President's budget request did not include funding for the Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) program.

We have until March 20th for House members to request AHEC funding, and we have until March 29th for Senators to recommend AHEC funding in their FY13 budget requests. If Members of Congress do not request funding for AHEC, there will be no federal funding available for AHEC programs nationwide.

Please be sure to reach out to your legislators, as well as your students, board members, community members and the many others who may be willing to call on behalf of the AHEC Program. Thank you for your continuous advocacy efforts in helping the MN AHEC Network to be eligible for funding in order to continue their excellent work in improving health by leading the nation in the recruitment, training and retention of a diverse health workforce for underserved communities.

The Pat Tillman Foundation has chosen the University of Minnesota as a University Partner in support of the Tillman Military Scholars program, which provides educational scholarships for veteran and active servicemembers and their spouses.

With its selection, the University of Minnesota is recognized by the Pat Tillman Foundation as being among the nation's leaders in support services for student veterans, active servicemembers and their spouses on campus.


Applications are now being accepted for Tillman Scholars, until Friday, March 16, 2012

Who is eligible to apply to become a Tillman Military Scholar?
> Veteran and active duty military servicemembers Of both pre- and post-9/11 service, from all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, including service in the National Guard and Reserve.
> Spouses of active or veteran servicemembers, including surviving spouses
> Servicemember or spouse seeking assistance to pursue an undergraduate, graduate or post-graduate degree as a full-time student at a public or private, 4-year U.S.-based accredited institution

Members of each class of Tillman Military Scholars represent a rich and diverse set of backgrounds, experiences and ambitions, and were selected based on strong leadership potential and a drive to make a positive impact on others through service.

The MN AHEC Network is available to assist veterans interested in seeking health careers education and health professions students who have been servicemenbers to find support and resources, like the Tillman Scholars, to continue their path to a health care career.

Summer Public Health Institute Details Released


The University of Minnesota 11th annual Public Health Institute offers courses for everyone practicing in or studying public health or fields related to public health.

The Public Health Institute includes a collection of fast-paced and interactive courses in nine public health areas with an emphasis on theory-to-practice, with opportunities for field trips, case studies, hands-on labs, and simulations.

The courses are available May 21-June 8, 2012.

Registration is open for professionals seeking Continuing Education Units. Registration for Graduate credit opens , enrolled University of Minnesota Students can register beginning April 10th and to the public on April 17.

Course topics include:
Culturally Responsive Public Health Practice
Environmental Health Sciences
Food Protection
Global Health
Infectious Disease Epidemiology
Public Health Leadership and Management
Public Health Preparedness, Response and Recovery; Research Methods
Women and Child Health and Nutrition.

CTSI Releases Two Research Funding Opportunities

The Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) is pleased to announce two pilot funding opportunities designed to support the broad spectrum of translational science research at the University of Minnesota and in our communities.

Community Collaborative Grants Program

The Community Collaborative Grants Program supports research that solves problems in translating clinical and health-related scientific knowledge into meaningful changes in practice, with the goals of improved health outcomes and/or reduced costs. This funding is intended to stimulate outstanding new pilot research that 1) involves strong community-university collaborations and 2) addresses important issues identified by community and 3) holds the promise of developing into long-term research and evaluation projects that will attract larger grants from NIH or other federal, state, or private funding agencies.

Grants are awarded in three areas: health disparities, systems for health improvement, and rural health.

Translational Research Grants Program
The Translational Research Grants Program supports and facilitates the highest quality translational research, with a goal of making definitive progress toward positively impacting human health in Minnesota and the nation. Applications must be focused on T1 human research, or human-relevant translational or clinical research with the potential to impact human health and/or disease. T1 research tests findings derived from basic research for clinical effects and/or applicability, and yields knowledge about human disease origin and progression and the potential for prevention and/or treatment.

The MN AHEC Network is proud to partner with the CTSI Office of Interprofessional Workforce Development.

Call for Abstracts: 2012 Health Equity Conference

Poster abstracts are currently being for the 2012 Health Equity Conference poster session to be held April 23rd.

The agenda 2012 Health Equity Conference will focused on eliminating health disparities. Posters may be on any topic related to health equity and health disparities.

The deadline to submit poster abstracts is Monday February 15, 2012 at 5pm.

Awards will be given in each of the following submission categories: Students, fellows, faculty, staff and community members.

The event will be co-hosted by the Center for Health Equity, Program in Health Disparities Research and the Minnesota Center for Cancer Collaborations.

2012 Summer Advanced Research Program

The CTSI 2012 Summer Advanced Research Program provides research training through a structured core curriculum, mentored research projects, weekly research seminars, and a final mini-symposium to present research to other scholars and mentors. With input and oversight by the faculty mentor, the scholars will design a mutually acceptable research-training plan, according to his or her career interests and the ongoing research programs of the faculty mentor.

Download the Request for Applications
Download the Application Cover Sheet
View a list of potential mentors

•Open to current University of Minnesota health sciences professional students (from the six health sciences colleges and schools) with an interest in clinical and translational research
•Offers an 8 - 12 week mentored summer research opportunity
•Provides a weekly stipend during the course of the program
•Opportunity for outstanding projects to receive travel funding to present research at a scientific conference
•Includes interdisciplinary learning and networking opportunities through weekly research seminars
•Applications from underrepresented populations are strongly encouraged
•All health sciences students are eligible, regardless of citizenship or immigration status
•Up to ten students will be selected
•Applications due January 16, 2012; start date in summer 2012

Medical students interested in health equity research should visit the Center for Health Equity website for more summer research opportunities

MN AHEC Director Barbara Brandt is the Director of the Office of Interprofessional Workforce Development in the CTSI.

AHEC Funding Update for FY12

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AHEC funding for FY12 has been finalized at $30,142,000. This does reflect a $3 million decrease over FY11; however it is far, far better than zero, as initially proposed by the House.

Please be sure to reach out and thank your legislators, as well as your students, board members, community members and the many others who called on behalf of the AHEC Program. Thanks to your continuous advocacy efforts the AHEC Network is well positioned to continue its excellent work in improving health by leading the nation in the recruitment, training and retention of a diverse health workforce for underserved communities.

MAFP.jpgMinnesota Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP) has released a call for abstracts for their 2012 Research Forum. Abstracts are due January 27, 2012. The Research Forum will take place on March 31, 2012.

Abstracts should contain original research and be relevant to family medicine. All categories of research will be considered, including practice-based, community-oriented and participatory projects, and descriptive studies. Quality Improvement projects, clinical case presentations, and literature reviews are acceptable if they generate original conclusions.

Research can be presented as a poster rather than as a live presentation. Poster submissions do require an abstract.

Abstracts can be submitted by medical students, residents, practicing physicians, academic physicians, and researchers.

Please visit the MAFP website for details on submitting an abstract.

Northwest MN AHEC board member Ray Christensen, MD is the treasurer of the MAFP House of Delegates.

BrainU is a grant-funded professional development program that teaches educators neuroscience principles and effective methodology for teaching neuroscience in the middle to high school classroom.

BrainU's web site contains professional development resources and lesson plan materials for grades 5 through 12 science teachers.

Science teachers from Minnesota and Wisconsin have utilized BrainU training and resources since the program's inception in 2000. Content ranges from 2-week-long teacher training sessions to 1-hour student assemblies, hands-on activities, student/teacher guides, handouts, and other materials.

BrainU is developed by the University of Minnesota Department of Neuroscience and Department of Curriculum and Instruction and is a resource in the STEM Education Center in the College of Education and Human Development.

Strength in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects is an important part of preparing students for continuing education in health professions.

The project is funded by SEPA (Science Education Partnership Award), supported by the National Center for Research Resources, a part of the National Institutes of Health, with additional funding from SEDAPA and ARRA.

Preparation for the Future of Rural Dentistry

University of Minnesota School of Dentistry students shared their experiences to pre-dental students in an event promoting the future of dental careers.


Pictured, L-R, Back row: Lori Larson, Central MN AHEC Regional Specialist; Kelly Stein, Dental Hygiene Student; Adam Swingdorf, Dental Student; and Dr. Paul Schulz, U of MN Department of Primary Dental Care Outreach Director. Front row: Meghan Reedy, U of MN Community Health Dental Outreach Program Specialist; Rachel Uppgaard, Dental Student; Megan Meyer, Dental Therapy Student; Laurissa Stigen, Central MN AHEC Executive Director, and Joan Tronson, Northwest MN AHEC Executive Director.

Pre-dental students from Concordia College, Minnesota State University--Moorhead (MSU), University of Minnesota, Morris, and North Dakota State University (NDSU) heard first-hand ideas to help them become prepared for Dental School as well as a career in Dentistry.

On Thursday, October 29, Central Minnesota Area Health Education Center (AHEC), Northwest MN AHEC and the University of Minnesota School Of Dentistry sponsored "The Future of Rural Dentistry" on the Concordia College campus in Moorhead, Minnesota.

Two dental students, a dental therapy student, and a dental hygiene student, along with School Of Dentistry Department of Primary Dental Care Outreach Director Dr. Paul Schulz and Community Health Dental Outreach Program Specialist Meghan Reedy, presented to the pre-dental students. The students talked about their career paths, the preparation and education involved, and what the current outlook is for dentistry, especially in rural Minnesota.

Over 45 people were in attendance including the pre-dental students, dentists from rural communities, and instructors from NDSU and MSU.

Laurissa Stigen, executive director for Central Minnesota AHEC was pleased with the event. "The focus of this event was to create an informal atmosphere so University of Minnesota students could easily network with pre-dental students, dentists and other dental professionals." Stigen said there were a lot of valuable conversations taking place.

"One of the dentists attending was from Fergus Falls. He complimented the School of Dentistry's excellent team and said that he is optimistic about the future of dentistry," said Stigen.

Earlier in the day, the University of Minnesota students also presented to two Human Anatomy classes at Moorhead High School. Events such as these connect students to careers, professionals to communities, and communities to better health.

One pre-dental student summed up the evening events by writing, "The most valuable part of today's event was hearing the current dental students talk about what the school is like, life during dental school, and hearing dentists talk about their practices. This was a wonderful way to spend my evening!"

The MN AHEC Network hosted a booth at the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) 2011 National Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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The conference is held annually and there were over 1,800 attendees from across the nation. MN AHEC staff from across the state enjoyed attending presentations and talking with a wide range of high school, college, and graduate students and educators about AHEC resources in health careers exploration - not only in Minnesota, but across the country.

MN AHEC Network staff were also pleased to meet Iva GreyWolf, Executive Director of the Southeast Alaska AHEC. Her AHEC was also exhibiting at the conference. The 2012 AISES National Conference will take place in Anchorage, Alaska.

American Indian health careers promotion is one of seven focus areas identified by the MN AHEC Network as a priority for programming and effort.

logo-hshc.pngThe National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Students to Service Loan Repayment Program pilot application cycle is now open.

The Students to Service Loan Repayment Program provides loan repayment assistance to medical students (MD and DO) in their last year of school, in return for a commitment to provide primary health care services in eligible Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) of greatest need.

This and other NHSC programs are seeking applicants who have an interest in serving in rural and urban communities with limited access to health care and in providing care through their initial service commitment and beyond. MN AHEC Network staff across Minnesota serve as NHSC Ambassadors and are available to assist interested students in their application process.

MN AHEC Regions Take Part in Give to the Max Day


November 16 is Give to the Max Day and you have the opportunity to donate funds to help support community programming in several MN AHEC Network regions. Check out all of the activities made possible by MN AHEC regions and be sure to show your support of primary care health careers promotion across Minnesota.

Central MN AHEC

Northeast MN AHEC

Northwest MN AHEC

Minnesota's nonprofit organizations ask Minnesotans to give to their favorite charities at during the third annual "Give to the Max Day" on Nov. 16, with hopes of raising as much money as possible for nonprofit organizations in 24 hours (starting at midnight on Nov. 16 through midnight on Nov. 17).


The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) has launched an Alumni Network and a redesigned website this week. Visit the site to learn more about opportunities with the NHSC, link to Corps resources, and obtain the latest news and information from the NHSC.

The NHSC, through its providers and sites, plays an important role in helping to address the country's primary care shortage. The NHSC provides scholarships and loan repayment The NHSC is a Federal government program that is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The MN AHEC Network is also a HRSA program.

NHSC alumni include thousands of providers who have served in the Corps and made a significant contribution to the health of the nation's underserved communities. The primary purpose of the NHSC Alumni Network is to offer former members a means to stay connected with the Corps. For those alumni interested in playing a more active role, the NHSC welcomes the support to increase awareness about the NHSC, primary care and working in underserved communities.

There are several MN AHEC Network staff who are NHSC Ambassadors and they are glad to help address questions about the NHSC and qualifying for funding.

The Central Minnesota AHEC Board of Directors invited dental, dental therapy, and dental hygienist students and faculty from the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry to their meeting, on November 10, 2011. Joan Tronson, Director of Northwest MN AHEC, was also a guest at the meeting.


The School of Dentistry students engaged the board in an active conversation about the future of dental careers and rural dentistry. The students were able to share their paths towards dental careers and their experience training on the mobile dental unit and in outreach clinics in Hibbing, Wilmar, and Minneapolis, MN.

The meeting was held at the Clay County Family Services Center in Moorhead, MN and after the meeting, board members took the opportunity to tour the Family HealthCare Center Dental Clinic also located at the Center.

The students were escorted by Paul Schulz, DDS, MPH, Director of the Mobile Dental Unit and Director of Outreach Programs in the Department of Primary Dental Care at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Schulz had a long standing relationship with the MN AHEC Network. He is a member of the Southern MN AHEC Board of Directors and serves as the MN AHEC Network Dental Outreach Director.

The MN AHEC Network has built a strong collaboration with the School of Dentistry to impact dental access across the state. Partnerships include coordinating experiences for students in MN AHEC regions and garnering financial support to promote the School's commitment to community outreach and dental careers promotion.

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The Minnesota Department of Health has begun the 2011 Minnesota e-Health Connectivity Grant Program for Health Information Exchange (HIE) application process.

The HIE Cooperative Agreement Program, known as Minnesota e-Health Connect, is funded by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) through the HITECH Act to build capacity in all states for exchanging health information across the health care system both within and across states. The cooperative agreement specifically requires states to use their authority, programs and resources to:

  • Ensure the development of state level directories and enable technical services for health information exchange
  • Convene stakeholders to ensure trust and support for a statewide approach to health information exchange
  • Ensure an effective model for health information exchange governance and accountability
  • Coordinate an integrated approach with Medicaid and public health
  • Develop and update privacy and security requirements for health information exchange
  • Remove barriers and create enablers for health information exchange
The HIE guidance and grant application can be found on the Minnesota e-Health Connect website.


Pictured are Central Minnesota AHEC Executive Director Laurissa Stigen, Senator Al Franken, and Glacial Ridge Health Systems CEO, Kirk Stensrud.

The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health has named U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) the 2011 Legislator of the Year.

On Sunday, October 9, Glacial Ridge Health System in Glenwood, MN hosted a reception honoring Senator Al Franken on his National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health Rural Healthcare Legislator award.

Mark Schoenbaum, Director of the Minnesota Office of Rural Health and Primary Care, presented the award to Senator Franken. The award is given annually to recognize an outstanding legislator for his or her work on, and support of, rural health initiatives. Those selected have introduced or supported legislation that addresses an identified rural health need or issue; made a special effort to effect change in rural health policy; and/or demonstrated leadership in the rural community.

Schoenbaum said Senator Franken received the award in recognition of his continued efforts to ensure that Minnesotans in rural communities receive the quality medical care they deserve. "Senator Franken is a member of three panels, the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions; the Indian Affairs Committee; and the Senate Rural Health Caucus, where he has tirelessly advocated for rural health improvements. He has written and co-sponsored several important rural health bills," said Schoenbaum. He continued to say Senator Franken joins past recipients of this award such as Senator Max Baucus, Senator Kent Conrad, Representative Gabrielle Giffords and Senator Ted Kennedy.

Lori Larson, Regional Specialist from Central Minnesota AHEC attended a presentation by Minnesota State Economist Tom Stinson on "Minnesota And The New Normal".


He presented the state of the economy in Minnesota to the Labor Force Development Group in the central Minnesota region, whose mission is to provide networking, strategic initiatives, and resource sharing designed to build the skills of the workforce and respond to the emerging needs of employers.

Stinson has been the state's economist since 1987, and also holds the position of professor in the Department of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota. In his role as state economist, Stinson is responsible for preparing revenue forecasts for the Governor and Legislature.

The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) presented its 2011 awards to five well-­‐respected rural health leaders and a deserving State Office of Rural Health (SORH) on September 8 during the organization's 2011 Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado.

2011_rural_health_awards.bmpThe Minnesota AHEC Network is happy to congratulate our colleague Mark Schoenbaum on receiving the 2011 Distinguished Service Award. Schoenbaum is Director of the Minnesota Office of Rural Health and Primary Care at the Minnesota Department of Health.

NOSORH presents the award each year to a member who has made an outstanding contribution or contributions to NOSORH and is actively involved in a State Office of Rural Health.

Mark Schoenbaum (right) with Karen Madden, New York Office of Rural Health.

President Kaler Visits with MN AHEC and Partners

The Minnesota AHEC Network (MN AHEC) was selected to be showcased as a part of University of Minnesota President Kaler's tour of the Academic Health Center(AHC) on Monday, September 19.

Barbara Brandt, MN AHEC Director and Associate Vice President for Education for the Academic Health Center, hosted the visit. The event was held in the Health Careers Center, an AHC Office of Education program and MN AHEC partner designed to help undergraduate students prepare for advanced health profession education.


President Kaler, Karen Kaler, Barbara Brandt, MN AHEC Director, Marylin Speedie, Dean of the College of Pharmacy, and students from the Schools of Nursing, College of Pharmacy and Medical School discuss interprofessional teams.

Topics covered during the visit included teaching Health Professional Collaborative Practice to health professions students and practitioners. The the Right Side Up in Otter Tail County interprofessional practice and education team participated in the event via interative television to showcase their team-based work in geriatric fall prevention. Central MN AHEC is a part of the Right Side Up team.

President Kaler and Karen Kaler connect via interactive TV with Central MN AHEC staff and the Right Side Up interprofessional geriatric falls prevention team in Fergus Fall, MN.

Similar interprofessional education and practice teams supported by MN AHEC and the Office of Education were also highlighted to show how new models of health care provide best practices for collaborative care. Teams include faculty, community-based health professionals, and students from medicine, nursing, and pharmacy.

During his tour of the AHC, President Kaler also visited MN AHEC collaborators in the School of Public Health, the simulation center in the Interprofessional Education and Resource Center, and the School of Dentistry.


President Kaler works on his bedside manner as he checks vital signs during the simulation.

Successful Clinical Teaching In Nursing Homes Workshop

Successful Clinical Teaching In Nursing Homes, a one-day workshop for nursing faculty and their nursing home clinical partners, was held Friday, September 16, at the Elim Rehab and Care Center in Fargo, ND.


Laurissa Stigen, Central Minnesota AHEC Executive Director, Vicki Teske, MS, GNP, BC, Assistant Professor at Minnesota State University Moorhead, Jane Strommen, Project Coordinator for North Dakota Partners in Nursing Gerontology Consortium Project, and Christine Mueller, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor and Co-director of the MnHCGNE.

This interactive workshop provided effective and innovative strategies to teach geriatric nursing in a nursing home setting. The unique aspect to this workshop is that faculty worked collaboratively with colleagues from their nursing home clinical partners to co-create meaningful learning opportunities for students to learn about the role of the registered nurse in providing care for nursing home residents.

Faculty from the University of Minnesota School of Nursing and the Minnesota Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence (MnHCGNE) facilitated the workshop. Laurissa Stigen, Executive Director of Central Minnesota Area Health Education Center provided information on some upcoming long-term care education opportunities as well as how the partners are working together.

There was no cost for the workshop. The facility, continental breakfast, lunch, and refreshment breaks were all generously provided by Elim Rehab and Care Center.

Mobile service for Veterans Touring South Central Minnesota

DAV.jpgThe Disabled American Veterans Mobile Service Office will be making stops South Central Minnesota communities this week.

The fully functioning mobile office travels around the country to make it easier for vets to get help with available benefits and services. The schedule for the week:
9/19/2011: Mankato: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Nichols Office Center, 410 E. Jackson St.;

  • 9/20/2011: Blue Earth: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Faribault County Office Building, 412 N. Nicollet St.;

  • 9/21/2011: St. James: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Veterans of Foreign War Post, 4 S. Seventh St.;

  • 9/22/2011: New Ulm: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at New Ulm Chapter 14, 1522 S. Valley St.;

  • 9/23/2011: Gaylord: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Sibley County Service Center, 111 Eighth St.

Jon Retzer, a DAV National Service Office supervisor for Minnesota, told the Mankato Free Press that the office can help veterans with all kinds of issues, from filing claims for benefits and pension assistance to problems with VA medical centers. "People can ask questions about anything and everything."


The University of Minnesota Office for Business and Community Economic Development is now accepting applications for the 2011 Community Health Initiative (CHI) Student Consulting Projects. This program is designed to support students interested in working with community-based organizations that work to address public health issues impacting traditionally underserved communities.

The CHI program matches organizations with undergraduate and graduate students who are enrolled in either the School of Public Health, Social Work or the School of Medicine, Carlson School of Management or Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs or other graduate programs within the University.

Complete eligibility requirements and online applications for community-based organizations can be found by visiting the CHI website. Applications are due Wednesday, September 14, 2011.

CHI Student Consulting Projects are experiential learning opportunities for students to work on specific projects that have been identified by local nonprofit organizations or businesses involved in addressing public health issues.

These projects attempt to deal with a business need of the organization and may focus in areas including but not limited to market research, marketing, feasibility studies, implementation planning, implementation, health administration, and outreach. Each consulting projects lasts 50-60 hours after which each participating student is paid a stipend of $700.

U-Lead Advisory Academy Accepting Applications


University of Minnesota Extension is currently accepting applications from community leaders across Minnesota for the 2012 U-Lead Advisory Academy.

The mission of the U-Lead Advisory Academy is to grow Extension stakeholders' leadership skills, knowledge and networks, and link Extension stakeholders to University of Minnesota resources.

The U-Lead Advisory Academy is a dynamic educational experience featuring an online component, four in-state sessions, and a five-day national study tour to Washington D.C..

More information and the program application can be are available from the U-Lead Advisory Academy staff. The application deadline is 10/31/2011.

M State Fergus Falls Offers Free Health Care Preparation Course


December 1, 2011 is the deadline for MN Health Professional Loan Forgiveness Programs through the Office of Rural Health and Primary Care at the Minnesota Department of Health. orhpclogosmall.jpg

Minnesota's Loan Forgiveness Program recruits and retains health care professionals to needed areas and facilities within Minnesota.

The program is designed for health care professional serving in health care facilities and communities experiencing a shortage of access to primary health care services in rural and urban areas of Minnesota.


Contact Deb Jahnke for information on these programs at 651-201-3845.

Girls Exploring Medicine & Service Workshop

Girls Exploring Medicine & Service (G.E.M.S.) Workshop was held August 26 to 28, 2011 on the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) campus. The event was developed through a collaboration with the Warroad Girls Lead program and medical student Erica Bohan, MPH, who is originally from Bemidji, MN.


UMD Medical Student Erican Bohan, MPH teaches a G.E.M.S. student how to use a stethoscope.

Bohan is assigned to the community of Warroad, MN for her preceptorship experience in the new Rural Medical Scholars Program at the University of Minnesota Duluth Medical School. This course is comprehensive over the first two years of medical school and once completed Bohan will have spent a total of six weeks working with Warroad's only full-time family practice physician, Dr. Deborah Erickson.

On her outreach in Warroad, Bohan had the chance to work with a girl's leadership program called Warroad Girls Lead. This program is an extracurricular activity for high school girls in Warroad who are interested in leadership training and community advocacy.

Bohan said that working with this group opened her eyes to several needs in the community and particularly within this population. With a total population of 1,781 and its location in the northernmost part of the state, Warroad is not only rural but remote. Besides just the one full-time physician, the closest four-year university is over 140 miles away in Bemidji.

"It has come to my attention that these young women are under the impression that their career opportunities are limited to those in nursing, teaching, or secretarial work. For many of the students, the most convenient and accessible post-secondary education option is the technical college located in Thief River Falls," said Bohan.

Through collaboration with the leader of the Warroad Girls Lead program, Kim Hruba, Bohan invited girls in the Warroad Girls Lead program to attend a pilot program at the UMD Medical School campus called G.E.M.S., a hands-on workshop in health careers.Six girls traveled to Duluith with Hruba and Dr. Erickson. The girls were invited to stay at the homes of several of Erica's fellow female medical students during the two nights that they were in Duluth. Dr. Joy Dorscher, with the Center for American Indian and Minority Health at UMD, hosted a "get-to-know-you" dinner at her home on Friday evening.


G.E.M.S. participants try thier hand at reviewing x-rays.

During the workshop, the girls toured both the College of St. Scholastica and the University of Minnesota Duluth, as well as a tour and female physician shadow at Saint Mary's Duluth Clinic and the Hope Clinic.
They participated in various hands-on activity stations, including suturing pig's feet, delivering a baby in a simulation laboratory, viewing pathology specimens, and reading X-Rays. During lunch Lori Larson from Central Minnesota Area Health Education Center and a group of medical students talked about the many different pathways to health care careers and the support that is available.

"I think it is crucial to not only give the girls a chance to explore medicine and meet some inspirational female physicians, but to also ensure that they have access to resources and information about how to pursue a career in medicine should they be interested," said Bohan.

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Fergus Falls was the first stop on Governor Mark Dayton's tour of the state to discuss jobs, including new ideas for statewide workforce and business development.

Lori Larson, Regional Specialist for Central MN AHEC was able to attend one of several events the Governor made in Fergus Falls. She shared that "Dayton used the words education and training continuously as part of the solution to a healthy workforce."

He also gave some attention to funding and resources necessary to support training for health professions students to meet health care workforce shortages.

Governor Mark Dayton with Lori Larson, Regional Specialist, Central MN AHEC

MaryZahuronesPK2011.jpgMary Zahurones, an 18-year-old college student from Pierz, MN was crowned the 58th Princess Kay of the Milky Way in an evening ceremony at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds on August 24, 2011.

Pierz, MN is in Morrison County in the Central MN AHEC region. Zahurones will be a freshman at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities this fall as a pre-med student studying biology and chemistry.

Throughout her year-long reign as Princess Kay of the Milky Way, Zahurones will make public appearances helping consumers make a connection with Minnesota dairy farm families who are dedicated to producing wholesome milk while caring for their animals and natural resources.


The Office for Equity and Diversity's Scholarly Excellence in Equity and Diversity (SEED) Awards program honors and acknowledges diverse students who are doing outstanding work at the University of Minnesota, both in and out of the classroom.

SEED award recipients demonstrate a deep understanding of and commitment to issues of equity, diversity, and social justice through their academic work and/or service to the community.In addition, SEED awardees will demonstrate experience with or commitment to serving or working with underserved, underrepresented or marginalized populations.

There are two SEED award types; an undergraduate SEED award and a graduate or professional student SEED award. Applicants must be enrolled as students on one of the five University of Minnesota campuses.

The undergraduate SEED applications are due September 26, 2011 and the graduate & professional student SEED applications are due October 10, 2011.

Details on the grant criteria and how to apply can be found on their website.

The awards are presented annually at the University of Minnesota Equity and Diversity Breakfast, which will take place on Wednesday, November 16, 2011.

Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) offered the third installment of conversations about rural health care with nine rural Minnesota health care providers. The piece is called WEIGH IN: Is rural health care going to get better or worse?


The conversation is a part of an ongoing focus in their Ground Level series focused on the future of Rural Health in Minnesota communities.

tzink 2.JPGThe UMNews has released a feature piece on University of Minnesota professor and physician Therese Zink. The piece is titled A love of country and it highlights Dr. Zink's passion for and contribution to primary care medicine in rural areas.

Dr. Zink is engaged with MN AHEC through her work in the Rural Physicians Associate Program (RPAP) and her advocacy for rural health care in all primary care fields.

In June, 2011, Dr. Zink received the 2011 Rural Health Hero Award at the Minnesota Rural Health Conference.

She has also shared her career experience and that of others by editing The Country Doctor Revisited, a collection of essays, poems, and short stories written by rural health care professionals.


From the Youth Work Institute Update:

STEM on the Web! August 5, 2011

The Youth Work Institute has added a new specialty topic to our website: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) will help you find programming resources and activities that draw young people in through interactive, experiential learning. The process of inquiry begins with gathering information and data, applying the human senses; it's a natural fit for incorporating science into your program's curriculum.

Registrations is currently open for the Inquiry-based Science with Kids-It's a chemical attraction! training on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011 at the Wadena County Fairgrounds in Wadena, MN.

Strong STEM skills are an important part of the education of a health professional.


The Minnesota Department of Health Office of Rural Health & Primary Care will post the Rural Hospital Planning and Transition Grant application on August 5th, 2011. Completed applications are due September 19, 2011.

Hospitals have used transition grants to prepare strategic plans, implement new uses for hospital space and develop community services.

The Office of Rural Health & Primary Care administers grants to help small rural hospitals preserve access or respond to changing conditions.

Contact Doug Benson, 651-201-3842, for more information.

U of M Extension Recognizes 2011 Farm Families of the Year


Seventy-five families from around the state, one from each participating county, have been named a "2011 Farm Family of the Year" by the University of Minnesota.

Families from all six MN AHEC regions have been recognized. The full list of honorees was announced this week.

For more than 20 years, the Farm Family Recognition Program has honored farm families from throughout Minnesota for their contributions to the agriculture industry and their local communities. All of the honored farm families have made significant contributions to Minnesota agriculture and their communities.

The formal 2011 Farm Family Recognition program will take place on Thursday, August 4th beginning at 1:30 p.m. at Farmfest in Redwood Falls, MN.

"Right Side Up in Otter Tail County" Award Highlighted

The Daily Journal in Fergus Falls featured an article on the Right Side Up in Otter Tail County interprofessional team on July 10, 2011. The article features the team's 2011 Rural Health Team Award, presented by the Minnesota Rural Health Association during 2011 Minnesota Rural Health Conference in Duluth, MN.


MN Rural Health Conf small.jpg

From left are Eric Christianson, PharmD; Marie Braaten, NP; Todd Johnson, PharmD; and Laurissa Stigen, Executive Director of Central MN AHEC.

"Right Side up in Otter Tail County" received the 2011Minnesota Rural Health Team Award June 28 in Duluth. The award was presented during the 2011Minnesota Rural Health Conference, an annual event hosted by the Minnesota Rural Health Association and the Office of Rural Health and Primary Care at the Minnesota Department of Health.

"Right Side up in Otter Tail County" is an interprofessional practice and education program designed to reduce fall risk among senior citizens and improve their quality
of life. This program is a collaborative effort of Lake Region Healthcare, Otter Tail County Public Health and Central MN AHEC.

"Right Side Up" grew out of a nursing student's project that looked at the number of falls occurring in Otter Tail County. With financial support from the MN AHEC Network and a USDA Rural Health and Safety grant, It has continued with medical, pharmacy, physical therapy students on clinical rotations at Lake Region Healthcare in Fergus Falls.

In addition to well over 30 students, Right Side Up includes nurse practitioner Marie Braaten, pharmacists Eric Christianson, Mark Dewey and Todd Johnson, physical therapist Eric Leopold, and nurses Lynn Lundquist and Diane Thorson, and Laurissa Stigen, executive director of the Central MN AHEC. The entire Right Side Up team works together to assess the risk of elderly community members falling and makes recommendations to decrease fall risk.

When a family member or health care provider refers an individual with a history of falls or the potential to fall, Right Side Up arranges a home visit. The home visit includes an environmental assessment, an inventory of all prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, a medical history and a balance test. With assistance from a public health or home health nurse, the students conduct the assessments and then present recommendations to reduce the risk of falls to the entire team. Final recommendations are sent to the individuals and their primary care providers for action.

A key component to reducing falls is coordinating care using a team approach. Not only do students gain confidence in their abilities, but through this early experience with an interprofessional approach to patient care, students are better prepared to continue improving quality of life for seniors well into the future.

The PIN-G Happenings newsletter is periodically published by Central Minnesota Area Health Education Center (AHEC) for the funding and program partners of Partners Investing in Nursing's Future--Geriatrics, Central Minnesota. PIN-G is made possible by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
SIN-G small.jpgThe long-term goal of this project is to increase the number of registered nurses that are competent in providing nursing care to elderly persons in a variety of institutional and community-based settings in the Central Minnesota AHEC region.

Funding Partners include The Otto Bremer Foundation, Care Ventures, Central Minnesota AHEC, CentraCare Health Foundation, Dakota Medical Foundation, The Initiative Foundation, Lake Region Healthcare, Minnesota Area Geriatric Education Center (MAGEC), Minnesota AHEC, Otter Tail County Public Health, Tri-County Hospital Foundation, Frank W. Veden Charitable Trust, West Central Initiative, Wilkin County Public Health, and an anonymous private donor.

Job Shadowing in Marshall, Minnesota

The Minnesota AHEC Network supports health careers exploration activities for students across Minnesota throughout their educational path. Job shadows at local health care facilities is one option offered for students in high school and college with an interest in a health career.

Watch this Avera Medical Minute: Observing Medicine First-Hand in Marshall to see what a job shadow experience can be like.

Visit our website more information on a wide range of health careers and contact Minnesota AHEC in your area for more information.

The first week of May, Central Minnesota AHEC Regional Specialist Lori Larson attended the National Rural Health Association's Annual Conference in Austin, Texas.


"As one of the new kids on the block (starting in my position the end of September 2010), this was my first NRHA conference," Lori shared. "I found that the conference allowed me to see others with an interest in rural health care in action, and it gave me a tremendous opportunity to network with extremely knowledgeable professionals.

I viewed some of the best practices for workforce development as well as delivery of education and am able to bring this back not only to Central Minnesota's AHEC, but the entire Minnesota AHEC Network. I found tremendous value in attending the conference, and I look forward to it again next year."


Therese Zink, MD, MPH at the National Rural Health Association's Annual Conference.

Larson was also able to connect with Therese Zink, MD, MPH, Associate Director of the Rural Physician Associate Program at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Zink was at the conference as an advocate and educator in rural health and she also was sharing stories from The Country Doctor Revisited, which she edited.


Save the Date for an interprofessional event, From Stigma to Care, for medical, pharmacy and RN students.

This educational event will take place on Monday, April 18th, 2011 from 10am to 3pm at Lakeland Mental Health in Fergus Falls.

Additional details will be provided when students RSVP.

Please RSVP by Monday, April 11, 2011 to Laurissa Stigen at Central MN AHEC, or 218-736-1601.

Match Day 2011

Yesterday, March 17, 2011, more than 26,000 medical school seniors across the United States discovered where they will spend the next three to seven years for their residency training


On Match Day 2011, more than half of the class of 225 University of Minnesota Medical School students were matched with residency programs in Minnesota.

In addition, more than half of the students are expected to go into primary care residency programs (internal medicine, family practice, or pediatrics). Primary care is the area of focus for MN AHEC as there is a great need for these practitioners in rural and urban areas. This year, all of the family practice residency slots filled across the state.

Match Day is coordinated by the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), a private, not-for-profit organization established in 1952 at the request of medical students to provide an orderly and fair mechanism to match the preferences of applicants to U.S. residency positions with the preferences of residency program directors for those applicants.

The Bridges Career Exploration Day at Central Lakes College in Brainerd on March 11 drew more than 2,300 high school students from across central Minnesota to sample more than 150 career options through interaction with professionals in health care, business, public service, and higher education.


University of Minnesota Medical School Rural Physicians Associate Program(RPAP) students Dan Freeman (Detroit Lakes) and Erin Norby (Brainerd) engaged with high school students at the event.

Career clusters highlighted during the event were business, management, and administration; arts, communications and information systems; agriculture, foods, and natural resources; human services; engineering, manufacturing, technology; health services; and liberal arts.

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Event attendees Education Commissioner Dr. Brenda Cassellius, Minnesota State Representative John Ward (District 12A) meet with RPAP students Dan Freeman(Detroit Lakes), Brainerd Erin Norby(Brainerd) and Katelyn Rogers(Aitkin).

Central MN AHEC was part of the planning committee for the health services career cluster. University of Minnesota health professions students and Central MN AHEC staff also participated in guiding the health services careers cluster activities. More than 183 non-profits, businesses, higher education institutions, and other organizations contributed to the success of the event.

The Lakes Country Service Cooperative and Central MN AHEC have have formed a collaboration to promote student awareness of, and interest in, the health career options for K-12 students in their region.

Read all about it on page 4 of the Winter 2011 Edition of the Lakes Country Service Cooperative Communicator.


Faces of AHEC Event at the Minnesota State Capitol

On February 3rd, 2011, Minnesota AHEC hosted the second annual Faces of AHEC event at the Minnesota State Capitol.

Faces of AHEC was an opportunity to share information about the role of MN AHEC in community-based primary care workforce planning efforts to address health professions workforce issues across Minnesota with state legislators and stakeholders.


Representative Bud Nornes and Assistant Professor Todd A Johnson, PharmD pose with health professions students from across Minnesota. The students are studying medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy.

Six health professions students from Minnesota kicked off the program by sharing their home cities across the state and their goals for practice. The event was also attended by more than 75 health care, government and community leaders, MN AHEC regional board members, and health sciences faculty from the University of Minnesota. gathered to discuss the role of MN AHEC in community-based primary care workforce planning efforts.

Highlighted speakers included:

Barbara Brandt, PhD, Associate Vice President for Education and Director, Minnesota AHEC. University of Minnesota Academic Health Center

Representative Bud Nornes, District 10A: Fergus Falls

Patrick Lloyd, DDS, MS, Dean, School of Dentistry, University of Minnesota

Linda Watson, MLS, Director, Health Sciences Libraries, University of Minnesota

Kathleen Brooks, MD, MBA, MPA, Director, Rural Physician Associate Program, Medical
School, University of Minnesota

Cindee Quake- Rapp, PhD, OTR/L, Director, Center for Allied Health Programs, University of Minnesota


MN AHEC Director Dr. Barbara Brandt addresses Faces of AHEC Attendees

Help Create Great Ideas to Strengthen the Primary Care Workforce in Minnesota

Participate in regional planning for strengthening Minnesota's primary care workforce by attending one of eight two-hour "Great Ideas for Minnesota's Primary Care" regional strategic input planning meetings in February. Complete registration information is available here. The meetings are sponsored by HealthForce Minnesota, the MN Department of Health Office of Rural Health and Primary Care, and the MN AHEC regional centers.

Who Should Participate

We need input and strategic thinking from professionals involved in a broad spectrum of primary care areas -- service delivery, education, and employment -- as defined in the most holistic, inclusive sense possible because this is what will truly shape effective change for the citizens of Minnesota. This means professionals involved in: high school career counseling, post-secondary education and training for healthcare, hospitals, clinics, community organizations, county social services, dental care, pharmacy, allied health, mental and behavioral health, aging services, and long term care.

View the schedule and register here.

Kids will get into health care with Scopes and Scrubs
Fergus Falls Daily Journal
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
By Ryan Howard

"Opening new horizons to Fergus Falls youth is what the new Scrubs and Scopes career club is all about. Starting in January, 15 local seventh and eighth graders interested in health care careers will be able to get a hands-on look at all sorts of jobs through the program, which is sponsored and developed by Lake Region Healthcare and the Central Minnesota Area Health Education Center (AHEC)."

Check out the full article.

Seventh and eighth grade students in the Fergus Falls area who are interested in Scopes and Scrubs should apply soon by calling Cheryl Buck at 736-8471 or clicking on Education and Events at Lake Region's website.


The future of Minnesota's health profession workforce depends on the ability to recruit the best and the brightest students into health careers.

MN AHEC supports a Health Degree Programs website that is full of information on how high school students can be prepared to apply for post secondary education to pursue a health profession degree.

020107healthcareers.JPGA high school student from Southwest Minnesota discusses health careers with Wendy Foley from Southern MN AHEC.

Resources on the site include:

* Exploring different health professions
* Creating a College Plan
* Researching Health Degree Programs at the University of Minnesota
* Frequently asked questions for students considering a health profession

All of the MN AHEC regional offices can also help with activities and information for further exploration into health careers.

Go. explore. learn. But come back.

Vukonich.JPGMark Vukonich, fourth year medical student at the University of Minnesota, participated in two internship experiences, Summer Internship of Medicine and Rural Physician Associate Program, bringing him both times to Fergus Falls.

Often you hear about youth wanting to leave the communities in which they grow up. Central Minnesota Area Health Education Center (AHEC) is encouraging health profession students to return to the area after completing their education.

A recent success story is Mark Vukonich, fourth year medical student at the University of Minnesota, who, through his connection with Central Minnesota AHEC and exposure to multiple settings, has strengthened his desire to return to central Minnesota and practice medicine in Fergus Falls.

Experience and understanding are key elements in choosing educational and career paths. During Vukonich's first year as a medical student at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Duluth, the school suggested he connect with Laurissa Stigen, Executive Director of Central Minnesota AHEC, to see what opportunities might be available for a Summer Internship of Medicine (SIM) experience.

"I am originally from the Underwood area," said Vukonich, "I have family and friends here so I thought I would see if there was something available in Fergus Falls."

The SIM program is an elective, two to eight week, rural immersion experience occurring during the summer vacation period between the first two years of medical school. It encourages student involvement in community, health systems, clinical medicine, and interprofessional experiences.

After connecting with Stigen, together they worked out a plan for what the SIM rotation would look like at Lake Region Healthcare and with a variety of community-based experiences in Fergus Falls.

"My 4-week rural experience was very good," said Vukonich. "I worked primarily in the clinic's Family Medicine Department with Dr. Vennerstom as well as with Dr. Van Valkenburg. And, I would go back and forth to the hospital's emergency department and other areas, spending time with varied specialists."

The SIM rotation allowed Vukonich to go beyond the classroom and lecture settings and to see first-hand how delivering medicine is done in the real world and in a rural community.

"First of all, the biggest thing for me is you are able to experience how the flow of medicine works on the ground level. Having this experience was kind of an introduction into a lot of the disease processes," he said.

Even though he does have a vested interest in the area, Vukonich never really thought about practicing in Fergus Falls until after he did his SIM rotation there. "I started to think this might be a good place to come back. It planted a seed a little bit."

Delivering medicine in rural Minnesota is a different experience than in an urban setting.

After the SIM experience, Vukonich returned to the University of Minnesota and completed his second year of medical school. While most medical students at school spend their third year on the Twin Cities campus, a select number who apply, and are chosen, participate in the Rural Physician Associate Program (RPAP). The program allows the student to spend nine months in a community-based educational experience. Vukonich says the medical school encourages students to participate in the RPAP because they want to train students to go into rural practice where need is great and they see value in building connections by first-hand exposure.

"They really talk to us a lot about it," said Vukonich. "So when the time came to apply for the RPAP program and I realized this is what I want to do--community, rural-type medicine--I applied."

Vukonich chose Lake Region Healthcare as his preferred site and after talking with faculty about his desire to practice in a rural setting like Fergus Falls, he was awarded the chance.

Vukonich's previous connection to Central MN AHEC, and his SIM experience, was key in helping him become more involved during his RPAP rotation with a project to help prevent falls in the elderly in Otter Tail County.

"I worked on a falls prevention project called the Inter-Professional Falls Prevention Education Program which has been going at Lake Region Healthcare since 2004."

The project is an interdisciplinary program involving medical professionals from pharmacy, nursing, public health, home health and physical therapy as well as health professions students from a number of health care disciplines. The project was launched with the support of MN AHEC. It provided Vukonich another positive practice experience in Fergus Falls and the ability to connect to the community on another level.

"It was good to work with the different areas of health care and to get out into the community and visit people in their homes," said Vukonich.

Vukonich also said the RPAP experience allowed him to see the similarities and differences between urban and rural health care. "The medicine part is the same in large and small hospitals," he said. "As far as structurally, it is totally different, especially for the student. In larger hospitals you have the attending physician, consultants, senior resident, intern and then the medical students." He said medical students are more of an add-along in a larger, urban hospital.

"When I came to Fergus Falls it was a lot different than the experiences both in Duluth and in the Twin Cities because you are basically there right along with the physician and they treat you as an equal. It's great to test your strengths and weaknesses and find out your way of doing it rather than being the last one to see the patient after things have already been done."

There are other differences, too.

"A big plus for me in a smaller, rural hospital is you have the opportunity to do everything and practice the full spectrum of your medical field." He says continuity is a big thing in a rural community like Fergus Falls. "You get to follow the patient and have that continuity."

Vukonich said he thought if he had gone to other rural hospitals such as Melrose, Buffalo, or Crookston, he most likely would have received a similar experience like he did in Fergus Falls. However, the time at Lake Region Healthcare solidified his desire to be here. "I love the people I work with and it's a nice facility," he said.

"If there is a young person interested in health care, I would have to say that during my years of medical school and undergraduate experiences so far, I'm so glad I chose to get into health care. It's very rewarding. It's also a flexible profession, accommodating all personality types and interests. If I had to make a choice again, I would choose health care."

Contact: Lori Larson, Regional Specialist, Central Minnesota AHEC 218-736-1690

Central Minnesota Area Health Education Center is one of six regional offices in the Minnesota AHEC Network that promotes rural health educational opportunities and addresses health workforce challenges. In collaboration with the University of Minnesota, the Central Minnesota office serves a 15-county region connecting students to careers, professionals to communities, and communities to better health. For more information visit or call 218-736-1601.

Rural Physician Associate Program Featured


The Rural Physician Associate Program (RPAP) is featured in the piece Big medicine for Minnesota's small towns on the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center home page.

The article, by Emily Jensen from Academic Health Center Public Relations, contains feedback from RPAP students, alumni, and faculty.

MN AHEC is proud to play a role in the experiences of RPAP students learning in our regions.

On November 12th, 8 University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy and Rural Physician Associate Program (RPAP) students gathered at St Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd, MN for an interprofessional engagement and learning event.

RPAPPharD2010.jpgLaurissa Stigen, Director of Central MN AHEC, with University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy Students and RPAP students at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd, MN.

Presenters at the day-long event focused on medication therapy management, patient centered care, diabetes education, and cardiovascular care.The presenters were all health care professionals practicing in rural areas.

The students who attended were all participating in community-based clinical training in Central and Northeast Minnesota.

The event was hosted by Central Minnesota Area Health Education Center, Northeast Minnesota Area Health Education Center, Minnesota Area Geriatric Education Center and St Joseph's Medical Center.

The Center on Aging in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota has featured the partnership between MN Area Geriatric Education Center(MAGEC) and MN AHEC in their Fall 2010 issue of Old News.


Central MN AHEC and Northeast MN AHEC began working with MAGEC in July 2010. MAGEC and MN AHEC are both funded by Health Resources and Services Administration in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The collaboration will be dedicated to providing quality geriatric education across Minnesota. It is an opportunity for the two programs to combine University of Minnesota resources, program knowledge, and partners in health care around the state.

Read more from Old News here.

Central Minnesota AHEC partners with West Central Initiative, the University of Minnesota School of Nursing, 10 regional schools of nursing, and other local partners to form the Partners Investing in Nursing's Future (PIN) initiative.

Minnesota Public Radio's Dan Gunderson recently highlighted the project in a story titled "As Minnesota population ages, nursing schools focus on geriatric care."

The PIN program will addresses the professional nursing workforce needs for the growing elderly population in Central Minnesota. The program is supported by $348,480 in grant funds from both the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and PIN partners.

PIN specifically targets faculty development, geriatrics, and long-term care. The collaboration of health care providers and education organizations in the region will strengthen the professional nursing workforce by increasing the number of faculty with expertise in teaching geriatric nursing. Consequently, nursing students will be competent in providing care to the growing elderly population and prepared to assume positions in community and institutional settings that provide care and services to the elderly.

December 1, 2010 is the deadline for MN Health Professional Loan Forgiveness Programs through the Office of Rural Health and Primary Care at the Minnesota Department of Health.


According to the Office of Rural Health and Primary Care, the purpose of Minnesota's Loan Forgiveness Program is the recruitment and retention of health care professionals to needed areas and facilities within Minnesota.

Applications are available online. Note that most programs require applicants to apply while still enrolled in a program of study or residency.


Loan forgiveness is an important benefit for health care professionals as well as health care facilities and communities experiencing a shortage of access to primary health care services.

Contact Amy Vallery for information on these programs at or 651-201-3870.

Central MN AHEC Social Hub


Central MN AHEC has launched a versatile social hub at

The site links students, health care professionals, and other stakeholders to the latest events, news and information pertaining to Central MN AHEC and their mission.

Visit the site to follow the Central MN AHEC blog, follow them on Twitter, or join them on Facebook.

Also watch for more to come from other regions in the Minnesota AHEC Network.

MN AHEC Partcipates in Day 1 at University of Minnesota

MN AHEC staff were able to take part in the Day 1 events that launched the new 1Health initiative for new health professions students. The event took place September 17th at the Northrup Auditorium at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Central MN AHEC Executive Director Laurissa Stigen, medical student and recent RPAP student Mark Vukonich, and Central MN AHEC Regional Specialist Lori Larson at the Day 1 event.

Day 1 launches the first phase of the 1Health interprofessional education initiative at the Academic Health Center.


Tri-State AHEC Meeting

August 26, 2010
Tri-State AHEC Conference
Moorhead, MN

MN AHEC representatives from Southern MN AHEC, Central MN AHEC, Northwest MN AHEC, and the MN AHEC Program Office met with representatives from South Dakota AHEC and North Dakota AHEC to discuss common goals and efforts in the areas health professions training and placement.

Central MN AHEC Executive Director Laurissa Stigen was featured in the Winter 2010 issue of Rural Roads Online, a publication of the National Rural Health Association(NRHA)


Stigen was a 2009 NHRA Rural Health Fellow. The article can be seen here.

The Staples Interprofessional Practice and Education (IPE) team will present at MN Rural Palliative Care Outcomes Congress on Thursday, April 8, 2010, in St. Cloud, MN.

MN AHEC supports 14 IPE teams, including the Staples team, and University of Minnesota Health Professions students participate in the community based projects.

Thumbnail image for PC Outcomes Congress flier-1.jpg

"RPAP Key to Recruiting Small-Town Docs"

MN AHEC is proud to work with third-year medical students from the University of Minnesota who participate in the Rural Physicians Associate Program (RPAP). There are RPAP students in all four of our established rural AHEC regions.

The program is in its 38th year and has over 1,200 alumni, 57% of which chose to practice in rural areas. RPAP is a unique opportunity in clinical training wherein third-year medical students live and train for nine months in non-metropolitan communities under the supervision of preceptors who are family physicians. These preceptors mentor students in the professional and personal aspects of being a physician.

RPAP students learn clinical medicine, procedures, community health, and the business of medicine.


The program has been highlighted in the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center News Capsules. You can also check out the program's newsletter, The Rural Physician, and more information can be found on the program's website.

0222_news_dr. Bob Bruininks.jpg
Photo Credit: Steve Kohls, Brainerd Dispatch

University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks visited a Garfield Elementary 3rd Grade Class in Brainerd, MN on 2/20/2009 to see the work of Brainerd Interprofessional Education Project(IPE). In this photo, President Bruininks is trying out one of the stability balls purchased by the Brainerd IPE team for the class and the school secretary as a part of their Childhood Obesity Prevention project.

The Brainerd IPE Project is one of 14 community based interprofessional education projects supported by funding from the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center Office of Education and Minnesota AHEC.

The Brainerd Dispatch was on site to document the visit. Text from the article can be found here.

logo Brainerd Dispatch.gif

$340,000 grant may lead to falls prevention program used as a model.

FallsImage.jpgArea health care professionals and students are helping to reduce the risk of falls for Wilbur Brewer resident of Pioneer Home in Fergus Falls. Pictured from left: Todd Johnson, Lake Region Healthcare Director of Clinical Pharmacy; Eric Christianson, UMD Pharmacy Student; Brewer; Jason Eggers, U of M Medical Student; and Marie Braaten, Fergus Falls Medical Group Geriatric Nurse Practitioner.

Among the elderly, a fall often causes a major medical crisis that affects both the patient's health and quality of life. In fact, falls are the main cause of accidents in people over the age of 65, as well as the No. 1 cause of serious injury and death.

In many cases, these falls can be prevented, sparing the elderly and their families from both trauma and expense. This is the focus of a $340,000 grant that will fund a year-long effort by, and five healthcare partners to develop and implement an intervention program to help prevent falls and to assist health care professionals in reducing the risks of falls by the elderly throughout Otter Tail County. Central MN AHEC is one of the regional partners.

The goal ultimately is to create a falls prevention program that could be used as a model in other counties throughout Minnesota.

"We often think the leading cause of death is heart disease, but morbidity is more related to falls. Of the elderly who fall and sustain a hip fracture, half are never able to live independently again," said Diane Thorson, director of the Otter Tail County Public Health Department. "We try to avoid them having falls in the first place."

An existing falls prevention program opened the door to the $340,000 Rural Health and Safety Education Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to Dr. Todd Johnson, director of clinical pharmacy at Lake Region Healthcare. That program, called the Inter-professional Falls Prevention & Education Program, has been in existence for almost two years and was funded by a grant from MN AHEC in the Academic Health Center at the University of Minnesota, where Johnson is also an assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy.

He oversees this program, which links medical professionals (often Otter Tail County public health nurses) and health care students in pharmacy, medicine, nursing, physical therapy and other disciplines to create assessment teams. These teams visit elderly patients to assess the risk of falls in their homes and make suggestions to lower the risks. Referrals to the teams typically come from physicians, family members or public health or home care staff.

The team's recommendations for each patient are presented to a Falls Committee and also shared with each patient, along with his or her family members and primary health care provider.

Visit the MN AHEC website for more information on similar community-based interprofessional education and practice projects supported by MN AHEC regions.

The MN AHEC Brainerd Interprofessional Education Site was featured on a Lakeland News broadcast on August 21, 2008.


The project focuses on an interprofessional health care team approach to preventing childhood obesity.

The Brainerd IPE site is one of fourteen associated with MN AHEC across the state of Minnesota.

Central MN AHEC is involved with the project, Executive Director Laurissa Stigen is available to address any questions that you have about this project.

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