Program Overview

West Virginia Area Health Education Centers (WV AHEC), Rural Community Health Scholars (RCH Scholars) is a highly selective program available to 75 of West Virginia’s top health professions students interested in practicing in rural or underserved communities; WVU and non-WVU students alike can participate.

Health professions students in the following areas are eligible to apply:WV AHEC Rural Community Health Scholars; a member of the National AHEC Organization

  • Dentistry, DDS
  • Dental Hygiene (UG)
  • Doctor of Pharmacy
  • Doctor of Psychology
  • Exercise Physiology (UG)
  • Health Informatics and Information Management (UG)
  • Medicine (Osteopathic, Family, OBGYN, etc.) 
  • Master or Doctor of Occupational Therapy
  • Master of Social Work
  • Master of Public/Population Health Programs
  • Nurse Practitioner, Doctor of Nursing Practice, Nursing PhD, and Nursing (UG)
  • Nutrition/Dietetics (UG)
  • Physical Therapy
  • Physician Assistant
  • Radiologic Technology and Science Sonography (UG)
  • And more (contact us if your discipline is not listed - you may still be eligible to participate)

The program runs from September 1 - June 30 each year, and incorporates the following curricular emphases:

  • Interprofessional education
  • Behavioral health integration
  • Social determinants of health
  • Cultural competency
  • Practice transformation
  • Current and emerging health issues

Accepted Scholars are enrolled in this program for two years, and must fulfill the following requirements annually for a total of 160 hours of additional RCH curriculum beyond your college or school's health professions components (80 hours total in year one, and 80 hours total in year two) to complete the program:

40 hours of community-based experiential or clinical training in a rural or underserved area:

Community-based training requires scholars to complete a pre-approved rotation in a rural or underserved area of West Virginia for a minimum of 40 hours annually. Scholars will receive hands-on training with a preceptor, engage with interdisciplinary health care providers, and become well-adept to the multifaceted nature of health care in rural communities.

40 hours of didactic education via our online platform, SOLE:

Didactic education requires scholars to complete 40 hours of online learning via a module in SOLE annually; courses are taught by WVU Faculty, the IHI (Institute for Healthcare Improvement), and several community partners. Scholars will complete one of the following three learning modules that most closely reflects the health need(s) of the community in which they are immersed during their community-based training:

  • Community Rural immersion Module
  • Cultural Competency Module
  • Interprofessional Education Module

 For more information on the didactic component, please see the Didactic Modules page.