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South Boston, VA—The Southern Virginia Higher Education Center recently hosted a site visit with Lorener Brayboy, LCSW and Kim Evans, JD, MHS with the federal Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), and Keisha Smith, executive director of the Virginia Health Workforce Development Authority (VHWDA). HRSA is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and funds the SVHEC’s Area Health Education Center (SVHEC-AHEC). SVHEC-AHEC serves a large region of 15 counties and 3 cities that stretches to Buckingham County in the north and Emporia in the east.hrsa birthingmanikin

During the visit, Brayboy, Evans, and Smith met with members of the SVHEC Leadership team and SVHEC-AHEC staff to learn more about the SVHEC and its successful AHEC program. Dr. Betty Adams, SVHEC executive director, provided an overview of the Center, its history, and programs, and expressed her thanks to the HRSA and VHWDA representatives for their support of the SVHEC-AHEC.

Dr. Nettie Simon Owens, SVHEC Chief Economic Advancement Officer, provided a brief presentation on the regional nursing shortage that led to the development of the Center of Nursing Excellence in 2007. Following presentations, Brayboy, Evans, and Smith were given tours of the Center of Nursing Excellence’s Simulation Lab and the SVHEC’s Innovation Center. The visit concluded with a roundtable discussion with representatives from Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital, Southside Virginia Community College, and SVHEC Executive Leadership.

”Our HRSA project officers have seen reports documenting the successful health professions outreach and educational support initiatives at SVHEC,” said Ann Switzer, associate director of the Center of Nursing Excellence. “This visit allowed us to demonstrate the SVHEC commitment to the health professions workforce with a hands-on tour of our CNE clinical training facilities, and turnout of the entire SVHEC leadership team to discuss our commitment to the AHEC mission,” she continued.  

About the SVHEC-AHEC Program

The Virginia AHEC Program is a federally funded initiative that aims to: (1) educate and train students to become culturally competent primary care health professionals who will provide healthcare in underserved areas and to health disparity populations; (2) increase the number and variety of primary care health professionals who provide care to underserved populations in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) and other medically underserved areas; and (3) recruit into health careers individuals from underrepresented minority populations or from disadvantaged or rural backgrounds. AHEC goals are aligned with the SVHEC’s mission to advance Southern Virginia’s economic potential through education, innovation, and collaboration.