The AHEC program was developed by Congress to recruit, train and retain a health professions workforce committed to underserved populations. Grants to fund AHECs were always made to the medical school(s) within the states. The only exception to this has been the University of Washington School of Medicine (UWSM). In this case, the federal government provided funding to the UWSM to start AHECs in Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho, all partners in the Regional WWAMI program.
On October 1, 1985, the Montana AHEC was implemented. The program office for the Montana Area Health Education Center/Office of Rural Health is located on the campus of Montana State University in Bozeman.
In September 2007, under new rules allowing Colleges of Nursing to apply for AHEC grants, the MSU College of Nursing applied and was awarded a grant to establish four regional AHEC offices in Montana in addition to the Bozeman Program Office. In year one, the South Central Regional office was set up in Dillon under the auspices of the Montana Hospital Association and the Eastern Regional AHEC office was set up in Billings at RiverStone Health. The Western office was established in September of 2008 under the College of Health Professions at The University of Montana. The North Central regional office was opened January 2010, also under the Montana Hospital Association.
The addition of the NE MT AHEC Region based in Miles City marks the fifth AHEC region in Montana. The NE MT AHEC office will serve all of the communities and healthcare facilities in fifteen counties in North Eastern and Southeastern Montana. The office is located and sponsored by Montana Health Network. Montana Health Network is a consortium of healthcare needed to make healthcare more stable, efficient and cost effective.
Each region has a director/program manager, a regional advisory council, and works to develop healthcare workforce strategies for their region.