South Carolina AHEC Scholars

Preparing Students for Rural and Interprofessional Practice

About the Program

Are you interested in rural and underserved care? If so, consider applying for the SC AHEC Scholars program for an opportunity to collaborate with fellow health profession students from various disciplines and institutions across the state.

The South Carolina AHEC Scholars program is a part of a national initiative to prepare tomorrow’s health professionals to become leaders in interprofessional, transformative practice who serve those who need it the most.

The program consists of didactic and experiential training opportunities with a focus on primary care and service to rural and underserved populations. AHEC Scholars will receive preference for innovative, team-based clinical fieldwork placements, in addition to networking opportunities with state leaders and primary care professionals from across the state.

More information about the program is available below, on the flyer (PDF), or in the South Carolina AHEC Scholars Handbook (PDF).

SC AHEC Scholars | In Their Own Words

Hear from some of our past and current AHEC Scholars about what inspires them, why they pursued a career in healthcare and what their experience was like in the SC AHEC Scholars program.

Watch the Videos

AHEC Scholars Last Year

Graduates since program inception in 2016
Hours of Didactic Training
Hours of Experiential Training

Program Details

Core Topics

All training will be focused around the following core topics:

  • Interprofessional Education
  • Behavioral Health Integration
  • Connecting Communities and Supporting Health Professionals
  • Virtual Learning and Telehealth
  • Social Determinants of Health
  • Cultural Competency
  • Practice Transformation

Primary Care and Serving the Underserved

The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) Committee on Implementing High-Quality Primary Care defines high-quality primary care as "the provision of whole-person, integrated, accessible, and equitable health care by interprofessional teams that are accountable for addressing the majority of an individual's health and wellness needs across settings and through sustained relationships with patients, families, and communities."

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) projects that demand will outstrip the supply of available primary care professionals by 2020 (HRSA online). In South Carolina, all but one county is a full or partial health professions shortage area (PDF). With so many South Carolinians in need of access to health care, the need for health professionals to practice full-scope primary care in rural areas is great. Additionally, recent studies show that rural family physicians have a broader scope of practice than their urban counterparts. Opportunities abound in all areas of primary care, including family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics.

The AHEC Scholars program provides students with innovative, interprofessional training and mentoring focused on building the skills and competencies needed to help transform primary care and improve patient care. South Carolina AHEC Scholars will receive a certificate recognizing them as leaders in primary care upon completion, setting them apart during job search and/or subsequent residency match.

To successfully complete the AHEC Scholars Program, students will:

  1. Participate in the AHEC Scholars program for 2 years.
  2. Complete 40 hours of experiential and 40 hours of didactic activities during each of the two years of the program. Opportunities include:
    • Primary care focused interprofessional simulation activities
    • Partnering with SC primary care leaders on quality improvement initiatives
    • Fieldwork placements/rotations in team-based practice settings
    • Access to online courses focused on the core topics
  3. Complete a follow-up evaluation 1 year after exiting the program.

Extensive information about the program is available in the South Carolina AHEC Scholars Handbook (PDF).

Health profession students from the following disciplines/programs are encouraged to apply and participate in AHEC Scholars:

  • Dental Medicine
  • Master of Social Work
  • Medicine (MD/DO)
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Pharmacy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Physician Assistant Studies

Preference will be given to individuals with/that meet one or more of the following:

  • South Carolina resident
  • Rural background
  • Commitment to a rural lifestyle
  • Commitment to primary care
  • Underrepresented minority
  • Disadvantaged background

Students are eligible to apply to the South Carolina AHEC Scholars Program if accepted/enrolled in a graduate-level health professions education program in South Carolina and are able to participate in and complete 2 years of the AHEC Scholars program preferably coinciding with graduation.

Becoming an AHEC Scholar offers many opportunities and benefits, including:

  • Network and receive mentoring opportunities with established leaders in primary care and rural health
  • Network with other AHEC Scholars in SC and across the nation
  • Stipends available to assist with travel expenses to rural clinical sites
  • Increased competitiveness for SC AHEC rural incentive grants
  • Certificate recognizing you as an AHEC Scholar and leader in primary care
  • Receive preference for innovative team-based clinical fieldwork placements/rotations

Apply Today

Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis.

Apply now
Headshot of an AHEC Scholar: S.K., PA

What Scholars Are Saying

"Growing up in a rural SC community, I always knew that regardless of where I went to pursue my education or how far I would travel to grow as an individual, coming back to my roots to give back to the community that gave me so much was my number one goal. Knowing that I wanted to work in rural health, finding the AHEC Scholars program was like striking gold. Having the opportunity to take online courses, attend interprofessional meetings, and gain extra knowledge that will help me become the best primary care clinician for my patients are just some the amazing aspects of the program. AHEC Scholars allowed me to make connections with others who have a passion for rural health and primary care – networking in the medical world is crucial, and this program made it so easy. Rural communities in SC need primary care clinicians who can ensure that they receive the best care possible, regardless of what resources are available to them. After completing the AHEC Scholars program, I have never felt more ready to enter the world of primary care here in rural SC."

-Sonam K., PA; AHEC Scholar and 2020 MUSC Physician Assistant Graduate

AHEC Scholars Faculty Advisory Committee

Jennifer Bailey

Jennifer Bailey, MEd

South Carolina

Betsy Blake

Betsy Blake, PharmD

USC College of Pharmacy

Kristen Hood Watson

Kristen Hood Watson, MD

MUSC College of Medicine

Ann Lefebvre

Ann Lefebvre, MSW, CPHQ

South Carolina

AHEC Health Professions Student Coordinators

Kim Stephens

Kimbley Stephens


Emily Warren

Emily Warren


Casey Cato

Casey Cato


Sara's headshot

Sara Newton


Kirstie's headshot

Kirstie Hogges

Pee Dee

Tina Fulton

Tina Fulton



Lowcountry AHEC Mid-Carolina AHEC Pee Dee AHEC Upstate AHEC

SC AHEC has received federal funds from HRSA (Grant #U77HP03019) to assist in the development and implementation of the AHEC Scholars program.