North Carolina was the first AHEC Program in the United States. The North Carolina AHEC Program evolved from national and state concerns with the supply, distribution, retention and quality of health professionals. In 1970, a report from the Carnegie Commission recommended the development of a nationwide system of Area Health Education Centers. The AHEC program was developed by Congress in 1971 to recruit, train, and retain a health professions workforce committed to under-served populations. The North Carolina program began in 1972 with three AHEC regions under a federal AHEC contract with The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. Area L AHEC in Rocky Mount, North Carolina was one of the original three. By 1975, a total of nine AHECs were operational in North Carolina.
The Mission of Area L AHEC is to meet the needs of the healthcare workforce serving Edgecombe, Halifax, Nash, Northampton, and Wilson counties by providing educational programs and services in partnerships with academic institutions and healthcare agencies, and other organizations committed to improving the health of the people of North Carolina.
Area L AHEC is governed by a fourteen-member Board of Trustees representing the area consortium hospitals and counties. The president of Area L AHEC serves as the Board’s management leader and chief executive officer. Area leaders serve on a regional advisory committee and meet with the AHEC Board and president to address healthcare issues. The regional education bases for Area L AHEC are Halifax Regional Medical Center, Inc. in Roanoke Rapids, Vidant Edgecombe Hospital in Tarboro, Nash Health Care Systems, Inc. in Rocky Mount, and Wilson Medical Center in Wilson.