Student Opportunities

Developing a qualified rural student base to fill health profession workforce shortages is a challenge in many rural communities.  Reasons cited include:
  • lack of knowledge
  • lack of interest
  • limited financial resources
  • lack of information about the courses at universities
  • and lack of employment opportunities upon graduation
Previous research studies document that although people who grew up in rural areas are more likely to return to work in these communities, there are often low numbers of rural students admitted into the health career professions.  While the training period varies for each health profession, it takes at least eleven years from the time a high school graduate begins preparing for medical school to be fully qualified as a practicing physician.  Therefore, a long-term recruitment strategy is needed to address the health workforce shortage in rural Illinois. 

One such strategy to increase the number of students pursuing health profession careers in rural areas is to develop successful pipeline programs that expand the number of well-qualified applicants, students accepted and graduates from health professions programs. 

Programs targeting students in rural areas are needed to strengthen students’ educational backgrounds and interest in the health professions.  In addition to AHEC and SEIgrow, NCRHP offers several pipeline programs including:



4-H Health Jam




Rural Health Careers Camp





3-Day Rural Health Experience




6-Week Rural Interdisciplinary Health Professions Summer Preceptorship


NEW PROGRAM THROUGH THE IL AHEC NETWORK: AHEC SCHOLARS
College students pursuing a health profession in Illinois can apply for the new Illinois AHEC Scholars Program. This competitive, two-year cohort program supplements health professions student’s education with job shadowing, career coaching, seminars, and experiences in underserved areas. Participants also receive additional training on practice transformation, behavioral health, social determinants of health, cultural competency and interprofessional education and training.

Illinois AHEC Scholars will graduate from the program with practical insight and expertise that will prepare them to serve as leaders in their healthcare field.

The Illinois AHEC Scholars Program expands on traditional health professions education and training with the goal of increasing awareness of and interest in health care professions in rural and underserved areas. Students currently enrolled in medicine, nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy, public health, social work and other health professions are eligible for the program. 

Established in 2010, the Illinois AHEC Network Program has eight regional centers throughout the state to serve both rural and urban underserved residents through access to health professions education, health careers development and community and public health promotion activities. The East Central Illinois AHEC in Gibson City, Ill., is the first regional center to pilot the Illinois AHEC Scholars Program. The first Illinois AHEC Scholars Program will kick-off with a day and a ½ face-to-face summer institute, hosted in Paxton Illinois. 


Applications are now available HERE and due Wednesday, June 6. 

For more information, contact Hana Hinkle at (815) 395-5784 or hhinkle1@uic.edu at the National Center for Rural Health Professions, University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford