Connect with an AHEC Health Career Coordinator
About KY Health Careers Pathways Program
The Area Health Education Centers (AHECs) across the state provide programming with the goal of increasing the number of students at all levels that successfully pursue educational programs and careers in health professions. The pathways program provides a series of experiences and activities for students interested in pursuing a health career. They are designed to promote health careers at each stage of the education experience, from Kindergarten through 12th grade. Programming includes one or two day showcases, summer camps as well as more coordinated, longitudinal experiences that are designed to give students a more in depth experience across a number of days/weeks and months and help give them the tools to successfully advance throughout their academic pathway.
UK AHEC Summer Camps 2023
For more information on UK AHEC Summer Camps for summer 2023, click HERE
Examples of Pathways Programming
- Large scale one-day showcases that bring together a number of different health care professionals under one roof in a way that gives students an opportunity to experience a particular field of interest.
- Customized programs and workshops in schools and community venues.
- Health Career “Clubs” for students.
- Depending upon the specific AHEC, these clubs may meet weekly or monthly and allow students in depth opportunities to learn from and observe health care professionals through presentations, tours, shadowing and the use of demonstration models.
- Summer Health Career Camps
- Camps may be campus or community based and involve students commuting to sessions each day, or they may be residential in nature. The duration of any summer camps vary in length from region to region.
Most of these activities are available and open to any student in Kentucky interested in a health career. There is special emphasis on Kentucky’s most rural and underserved counties as well as urban counties with large Hispanic and African American populations. Annually, the KY AHEC program presents over 1300 programs to more than 30000 students from early elementary school years through middle and secondary schools. Questions about region specific programming can be directed to the health career coordinator serving your region of the state. Find out who your health career coordinator is below.
Health Career Participant Testimonials
"Attending the University of Kentucky Area Health Education Center summer camp was the highlight of my summer. I am grateful to have been chosen to attend this amazing program. As soon as I arrived at camp, I was greeted by friendly program administrators and residential advisors who were there to help with move in process and answer any questions I had. I immediately felt comfortable, and the residential hall quickly felt like a second home.
The unique opportunities the program had to offer were numerous. I was exposed to a variety of health professions by watching a live gall bladder removal surgery, holding a preserved human heart and brain, and working in the cadaver lab. Some activities arose from individual interests. For example, I enjoyed spending extra time in the minimally invasive surgery lab where I tested my hand dexterity by performing simulated surgical exercises. During weekly job shadowing at the hospital conveniently located only a couple blocks away from the residential hall, I was able to observe the starting of an IV, CT scans, physical therapy, pulmonary testing, emergency room cases, etc. These hands-on activities and up-close observations were invaluable experiences. In addition to interacting with health professionals, I enhanced my knowledge of chemistry, physics, and biology through lectures and labs. Also, guest speakers visited almost everyday, each representing their specific health career field. It was meaningful to listen to, ask questions, and receive advice from experts who have successful careers in the field of medicine and who were so passionate about their occupations.
Not only did I learn about and experience what it’s like to work professionally in the medical field, I created relationships with my residential advisors and fellow campers. Our shared interest in medical occupations made it easy to bond with each other and share exciting program experiences. And through fun activities like having a paint war, going roller skating, attending a Lexington Legends baseball game, playing laser tag, and having spontaneous dance parties in the basement of the residential hall, we all got to know one another quite well before camp ended.
The UK Summer Enrichment Program was an unforgettable experience. The extraordinary opportunities provided and the comradery between us campers made for an exceptional program! This camp gave me a more accurate and realistic perspective regarding the education and skills required and the daily activities encountered in various medical professions. For any student serious about a career in healthcare, I would highly recommend this camp."
- Amanda Wright, Summer Enrichment Program 2016
"My attendance of AHEC’s summer enrichment program, was a summer of new beginnings. Before I went to AHEC, I always knew I wanted to be something in the healthcare field. However, I never knew exactly what. When asked what I want to be when I grow up, I used to say “doctor” but nothing more. After my experience at AHEC, the idea of being just a doctor changed. I learned that it is far more than that. This career is hard work, dedication, and commitment in taking care of others. I also learned that there are many other aspects to healthcare than just physicians. The healthcare field is made up of nurses, researchers, dieticians, therapists, genetic counselors, to name a few. AHEC opened my eyes to the many different facets of this industry and taught me many opportunities that are available in the medical field. I now have a new perspective and a broader view to the different fields I would like to be a part of one day.
In addition to the educational benefits of AHEC’s summer enrichment program, I feel very blessed to have formed lifelong friendships with people I would have likely never met otherwise. When I first heard I got accepted into AHEC, I was apprehensive about spending four weeks with people I had never met before. This was the first time in my life I had spent this much time away from home without family. My timidness and fear was quickly overcome by the warm welcomings I got by both the residential advisors and campers. Over the course of the four weeks we became a close family and remain in contact until today.
I feel fortunate and honored to have been part of this incredible program. Going to the gross lab, shadowing fields we were interested in, meeting amazing staff members and meeting lifelong friends are all experiences which wouldn’t have been possible without AHEC. I am grateful I was awarded this tremendous experience."
- Summer Enrichment Program Camper, Summer 2016
“The summer camps give students a glimpse into several different medical professions such as research scientists, surgeons, and physicians. Students of this camp are guided through how sound research is conducted, are given examples of how clinicians properly treat patients, and even have the opportunity to observe lifesaving procedures conducted at the University of Kentucky Hospital. Even though these real-life experiences prove invaluable, I believe students realize that behind the Ph.D. and M.D. title are faces of real people who grew up in the same or very similar regions with similar backgrounds who persevered and overcame many socioeconomic hurdles along the way on their path to success. I believe it is imperative for the next generation of health care professionals to observe, meet, interact, relate with current doctors and scientists to truly believe this an exciting, fulfilling, and most importantly attainable career option.”
–Lesley K. Gilmer, Ph.D. Summer Camp Instructor, 2010-2012
“My experience as an AHEC instructor solidified my desire to teach biology. The students I met at the AHEC camp were some of the most outgoing and engaging students I have had the pleasure to work with and I am grateful for my time with them. I encourage all eligible students to apply for this program, and participate in Health Career Pipeline programming. Not only will it have a positive impact on your future, but on your instructors' as well”.
-Tim Bradshaw, Ph.D.-Summer Camp Instructor, 2009-2011
“The Summer Enrichment Camp was a great preparation for my college years and allowed me to build everlasting friendships I wouldn't have otherwise had the chance to. It was a great eye opener to what will be expected of me in the years to come and has given me the confidence to walk onto any campus and know I can achieve great things. The Health Researcher’s Youth Academy showed a different aspect of college as far as research and the preparation for it and allowed me to work on a topic I truly loved. I was able to reunite with my fellow friends from the previous years and formed new ones also. The camps were an experience I am grateful for, and I hope many others get the experience it's benefits as well.”
-Brittany Fletcher, Summer Camp, 2010 and 2011
“Thank you for offering this incredible experience for the kids. Zeke gushed about it all the way home, and paid the ultimate compliment to what you all did for him. He said he didn’t know how he could go back to Knott Central because the classes would be boring and the people there are far less tolerant and open-minded. He also really, really liked the freedom you gave them! I believe he grew some emotionally and intellectually. Thank you so much!”
-Lisa Maggard, parent of 2009 Health Researcher’s Youth Academy camp participant
“I just want to tell you how much Christine and I appreciate this program and you and your staff’s efforts to make it the real success it was. Nicki came home energized to continue to work toward her goals in the medical field. She has talked non-stop about all of the great things she experienced. From a social perspective, it appears that you succeeded in creating a warm and friendly environment in which the kids were able to thrive and create lasting relationships. This was a real growth experience for Nicki on every level”
“I know that sometimes the things we do go unnoticed, or unappreciated I want to make sure that I tell you exactly how much it meant to me that you and the staff of AHEC provided such a great camp. I feel like I have created a family, or a network of people I know I can always count on. I would have never made those connections if it wasn't for this camp. I don't think I have ever picked up so much that I believe will be so beneficial to my future. I feel that this camp enriched me so much in the field of research.”
-Shawna Ulrich, 2012 Health Researchers Youth Academy
“Thank you so much for the experience my son is having at the AHEC. Dalton is learning so much and enjoying the whole experience of being independent. He has expressed to me that the program is great and the staff has been so helpful and wonderful. So, thank you to you and your team!!”
-Caroline Lovins, parent of 2012 Summer Enrichment Program Participant
Connect with an AHEC Health Career Coordinators (West to East)
Each of the regional AHEC offices has dedicated personnel responsible for Health Careers Pathways programming activities. Depending upon availability and resources, they visit school and community venues within each of their service regions in addition to providing much, more more. For more information, please contact the coordinator for your area or the University of Kentucky AHEC Health Career Coordinator.