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  • Alivia Smeltzer-Darling

2022 Year-In-Review

2022 has been an amazing year here at Erie Niagara AHEC! Although impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are still present, we were able to welcome four new staff members, reach hundreds of students, and even start new programs to further health equity in our community. Take a look at some of the milestones we achieved this past year:


January to March


AHEC Scholars 1st Annual Interprofessional Case Competition

Former Program Specialist Ola with the 2022 Case Competition Winners

Throughout January and February, our Year 1 and 2 AHEC Scholars worked as interdisciplinary teams to address a case study and develop an effective patient-centered care plan. Local collegiate partners judged the students’ video submissions, resulting in an Award Luncheon to celebrate the Scholars’ efforts and crown the top three winning groups. The competition was a memorable and educational experience for our students, who obtained a better understanding of the complexities of the healthcare system and the importance of teamwork among healthcare professionals.


Health Career Resource Guide Launches

To assist young adults in their health career exploration, preparation, and understanding, Erie Niagara AHEC announced its new Health Career Resource Guide, a one-stop health career resource. In addition to health career descriptions, the Guide also includes course recommendations, scholarship opportunities, local programs, and more. The 2023 revised Guide is launching soon!


April to Early July


Strengthening Workforce Pathways Community Needs Assessment

In partnership with CAI Global/HOPE Buffalo, Erie Niagara AHEC assisted in the facilitation of a Community Needs Assessment (CNA) regarding strengthening pathways to the workforce for youth and young adults in Buffalo. Erie Niagara AHEC recruited and helped train a cohort of young adults from these affected communities to design and implement the CNA, which reached youth, workforce organizations, schools, and community members across Buffalo. Keep an eye out in 2023 for the CNA results and next steps currently in development!


Welcoming Ryan and Wendy

In June and July, we welcomed Program Specialist for Education and Training, Wendy Kinsinger, and Program Specialist for Collegiate Pipeline Programming, Ryan James! Wendy oversees all aspects of Erie Niagara AHEC’s Continuing Education programs, including our monthly trainings (sign up here!). Ryan oversees our AHEC Scholars and Opioid Prevention Education Project programming.

Above: Ryan and Wendy


Late July to September

Students at D'Youville University's Nursing Simulation Lab

Health Career Summer Camp

Erie Niagara AHEC’s Health Career Summer Camp, generously funded by CAI Global/HOPE Buffalo and hosted by D’Youville University, took place in late July. 14 teens joined us for camp, learning about topics ranging from sexual health to youth advocacy via workshops, hands-on activities, and even tours showcasing local community health efforts. We had a great time at camp exposing students to various health career paths while building their college and career readiness skills!


Welcoming Kalia and Madeline

Program Specialists for the Birth Equity Project, Kalia McCray and Madeline Ackley, joined the team in September! Kalia and Madeline got off to a running start developing and implementing our maternal health programming as they recruited new and current doulas, organized training, and advocated for birth equity in the Western New York region.


Left: Kalia (above) and Madeline (below)


Monthly Trainings Launch

In pursuit of our mission to prepare a culturally responsive healthcare workforce to engage with diverse, underserved, and underrepresented patients, Erie Niagara AHEC launched its monthly virtual training series, which address current and emerging health issues. Learn more and sign up here!





PATCH & YLT Orientation

PATCH & YLT Orientation

Two key pipeline programs held orientation in August. Our Providers and Teens Communicating for Health (PATCH) and Youth Leadership Team (YLT) programs, both funded by HOPE Buffalo, met for team building, skill development workshops, and program training, kicking off the start to a great year. Both programs educate participants on various health topics such as mental and sexual health, social determinants of health, and health literacy, preparing students to be peer educators and advocates.



October to December

Doula Training

2022 New Doula Cohort

In October, we helped train a cohort of 12 new doulas in partnership with DONA International, Melinated Moms, and Calming Nature Doula! Funded by the Health Foundation of Central and Western New York, these doulas were recruited to participate and expand the NYS Doula Pilot Program, which allows for Medicaid-eligible moms

to work with a doula before, during, and after their birth at no cost.


Follow the Patient Day

D’Youville University partnered with Erie Niagara AHEC to hold a Follow the Patient event, exposing students to various health professions as they followed a simulated patient’s healthcare journey throughout the day. Over 30 high school students attended, gaining a better understanding of how health professionals can work together to best meet patients’ needs.


What’s Next in 2023?


Connecting Mothers to Doulas

Opioid Prevention Education Project Speakers Series

Erie Niagara AHEC Summer Programming

New and Improved Resources Online

And More!


If you’d like to keep hearing about Erie Niagara AHEC’s programs, trainings, and other updates, subscribe to our newsletter on the bottom of our homepage!


Thank you for supporting our organization throughout 2022--we look forward to seeing what 2023 will bring!


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