Area Health Education Center

The New Mexico AHEC includes the Program Office at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque NM, and three Centers: Montanas del Norte AHEC in Las Vegas NM (located at Luna Community College),  Southern AHEC in Las Cruces NM (located at New Mexico State University), and FORWARD NM AHEC in Silver City NM (located at Southwest Center for Health Innovations).

Many established community partnerships, including public educational institutions, healthcare facilities, and professional organizations are key to the success of the New Mexico AHEC.

Thirty-two of the 33 counties have at least one type of Health Professions Shortage Area (HPSA) classification. Specifically, primary care has 39 HPSAs (including 18 entire counties) dental care has 35 HPSAs (21 entire counties), and 29 counties are designated as mental health shortage areas.

Professional shortages also exist for emergency medical personnel, pharmacists, laboratory technicians, behavioral health professionals, nurse practitioners, nurses, and many allied health professionals such as physical and occupational therapists.

Rural, geographically remote Hispanic and Native communities in New Mexico are in areas with the most significant shortage of health professionals in the nation. Studies have shown that students who participate in programs that encourage rural and undeserved community

  • Increase the ethnic diversity of healthcare professionals in New Mexico
  • Encourage professional practice in under served communities
  • Encourage students to explore careers in healthcare and provide them with health career information
  • Provide support for health professions students to gain clinical and life experiences in rural New Mexico
  • Provide continuing education to health professions residents and practitioners in order to improve the quality of healthcare services to New Mexicans



1.  Develop the Health Professionals Pipeline for Underserved Communities

NM AHEC engages youth in a variety of health career awareness and mentoring activities offered in the public schools and through special events.

2.  Encourage Health Professional Students to Work in Underserved Communities

NM AHEC provides financial support for students from multiple health professional training programs so that they can complete clinical rotations in rural and underserved communities throughout the state. This requires close collaboration with colleges, universities, and a wide variety of clinical training sites.

3.  Support Health Professional Retention and Improve Competency to Provide Culturally Sensitive and Regionally Appropriate Healthcare

NM AHEC offers continuing education to health providers on a variety of culturally sensitive and regionally relevant topics. Collaboration with the NM Department of Health, as well as other private organizations and foundations, facilitates implementation of this training.


  • Increase access to health care in rural and underserved communities by increasing training and employment in the health care fields. 
  • Capture and maintain interest about health profession careers, especially among students from minority, rural, and disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Support rural clinical rotations for health professional training programs throughout the state by maintaining existing and establishing new collaborations with colleges, universities, and a wide variety of clinical training sites.
  • Offer continuing education for health professionals on a variety of state and local relevant topics.
  • Collaborate with New Mexico Health professionals to develop practices that promote culturally sensitive and regionally appropriate health care.
  • Improve access to quality health care through partnerships with educational institutions, community stakeholders, private organizations, and state and local governments.

The New Mexico Area Health Education Centers (AHECs) include the Program Office at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, the Montañas del Norte AHEC (affiliated with Luna Community College) in Las Vegas, Southern AHEC (affiliated with New Mexico State University) in Las Cruces, and Forward NM, the Southwestern AHEC (affiliated with Southwest Center for Health Innovation). All 33 New Mexico counties are covered by the AHEC Centers.

New Mexico AHEC
University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center
MSC09 5040
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001
(505) 272-9761
Director: Helene Silverblatt, MD
Program Specialist: Maria Ward    
Montanas del Norte AHEC (MDN)          
Luna Community College
366 Luna Drive;
Las Vegas, NM 87701
(505) 454-2583
Director: Elaine Luna, LISW
Southern AHEC (So)
New Mexico State University
4003 Geothermal Drive
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, NM 88003-0001
(575) 646-3441
Interim Director: Gena Trujillo, MCJ
Forward NM AHEC (SW)
link to forward nm
Workforce Development Programs
SW Center for Health Innovations
301 W. College Avenue, Ste 16
Silver City, NM 88061
(575) 534-0101 ext. 2107
(575) 956-5051 Cell
Director: Holley H. Hudgins
What is a "HPSA"?

HPSA stands for Health Professional Shortage Area. A HPSA is defined as a county that does not have sufficient medical staff to properly server a geographic area, typically based on census tract level. There are many categories that HPSA designations apply to, such as emergency medical personnel, pharmacists, laboratory technicians, behavioral health professionals, nurse practitioners, nurses, and many allied health professionals like physical and occupational therapists.

What is New Mexico AHEC doing about HPSA's in New Mexico?
The need for health personnel is acute throughout NM, reaching crisis proportions in some counties for specific disciplines. As one of our priorities, we recruit individuals from underserved communities and underrepresented minorities into health professional careers. Once recruited, AHEC provides continuing education opportunities to individuals as they fulfill their study requirements. Balancing urban health professional education with training in medically underserved areas increases the likelihood that graduates will practice in those areas.

How Do I Find Health Professional Shortage Areas In New Mexico?
We encourage you to become aware if your county has a health professional shortage by visiting the HRSA website, where you can search by state, county and the medical disciplines of primary medical care, dental and mental health.

What can I do if my county has a health professional shortage?
Talk to your state legislators and representatives. Tell them your county has a shortage of health professionals and ask they do all can to support programs like New Mexico AHEC.



Area Health Education Centers (AHECs) connect students to health careers, connect health professionals to communities, and connect communities to better health!

About the AHEC Scholars Program

The AHEC Scholars Program is a federally funded, nationwide initiative to create a cadre of health professionals across disciplines committed to working together in rural and underserved communities.

AHEC Scholars will be leaders in their fields, having gained the knowledge, skills and training to improve primary care practice outcomes through inter-professional and collaborative training.

Program Information

AHEC Scholars will be selected from various health professions programs and regions of the state.

They will participate in a two-year program that includes 80 hours of didactic training related to six core topic areas:

Inter-professional education

  • Behavioral health integration
  • Social determinants of health
  • Cultural competency
  • Practice transformation
  • Current and emerging health issues, such as opioid addiction

 AHEC scholars will also receive 40 hours of community-based, interdisciplinary team-based experience as part of their regular clinical training each year.

Each cohort of scholars will have the opportunity to network with other scholars and faculty through in-person and online training and seminars. 

Potential Benefits for Participants

  • Special leadership training
  • Expert mentorship and training opportunities by recognized faculty
  • Acknowledgment as AHEC Scholars in graduation program
  • Important C-V item with appropriate certificate and letter of recognition
  • The possibility to participate in national meetings
  • The likelihood  to form a group of state-wide future health care leaders
  • The opportunity to be part of the nationwide AHEC Scholars Program

Partners Include:

  • Western New Mexico University

Contact Information

AHEC program office – 505-272-9761