Strategic Plan 2022-2024


Dear Colleagues:

This strategic plan represents a turning point for the Health Education Center (HEC). The new plan acknowledges and honors the history of Area Health Education Centers (AHECs) while laying out a bold new pathway forward that addresses the changing needs of the communities we serve.

AHECs were created almost 50 years ago when academic medical centers were viewed as “Ivory Towers” out of touch with the community. Rural communities and inner cities faced a growing shortage of health care professionals, especially primary care providers. AHECs placed health science students in underserved communities where they learned to appreciate the rewards and challenges of practice. The hope was that these community-based interprofessional clinical experiences would entice students to consider future practice in those underserved areas.

Community-based learning has excited some students to envision a future for themselves in those communities and, combined with pipeline programs for high school and college students, has helped shape a health care workforce more prepared to serve and more reflective of the populations of underserved communities.

However, the health problems faced by underserved communities have not been solved. Communities still struggle to attract and retain the health care professionals they need. Beyond sheer numbers, these communities need health care professionals willing to serve all who are in need regardless of the ability to pay; respectful to all patients regardless of race, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, legal status, or disability; and, committed to achieving racial equity, social justice, and allowing every person to achieve the highest possible level of health.

Our strategic plan builds upon the foundation of workforce development, with a greater commitment to keep racial equity and social justice at the center of our efforts. The new plan calls upon the board and staff to make HEC a more activist organization, grappling with the root causes of illness, and advocating for solutions. The plan envisions expansion of our fee-for-service programs, which will provide for more financial stability and discretionary funds. These financial resources will enable HEC to expand programs and better serve our communities.

With this strategic plan as our touchstone, we face the challenges of today with optimism, determination, and courage.


Stephen R. Smith, M.D., M.P.H., Chair
HEC Board of Directors

Members of the Planning Team
Setu Vora, M.D.                                                                                                      
Michele Scott
Laurie Herring                                                                                                        
Stephanye Clarke

Hundreds of students are loving our programs & trust HEC.


Connecting students to health education careers, professionals to communities, and communities to better health.

55 Main Street, Ste 270

Norwich, CT 06360
P: (860) 465-8281
F: (860) 760-6230

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