UNE COM student presents on health equity initiatives undertaken by Maine Area Health Education Center
UNE College of Osteopathic Medicine student Fajar Alam (D.O., ’25) recently led a virtual poster presentation on behalf of the Maine Area Health Education Center (AHEC) to a panel of judges featuring representation from the National AHEC Organization (NAO), the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and the Bureau of Health Workforce (BHW).
Alam, a Care for the Underserved Pathways (CUP) AHEC scholar, presented “Shared Learning when AHEC Scholars Develop and Participate in the Delivery of Health Career Programs for High School Students,” which discussed efforts to bring together UNE health professions students and high school students from Portland and Lewiston to learn more about health careers using interactive, hands-on sessions designed by the UNE students.
Maine AHEC and its community partners at the Maine Access Immigrant Network (MAIN) and the New Mainers Public Health Initiative (NMPHI) were recently awarded a two-year, $100,000 Community Responsive Grant from the Maine Health Access Foundation to fund the initiative, with Alam serving as an AHEC health equity intern.
The project was personal for Alam, whose own experience witnessing health disparities inspired her to act.
“Growing up in a low-income area as a daughter of immigrants, I witnessed firsthand the health disparities that vulnerable communities face,” Alam explained. “Being conscientious of these barriers is what inspired me to apply for the health equity intern position with Maine AHEC. This project allowed several UNE health professional school students, including myself, to work with refugee and immigrant high school students in a mentoring role, and our project showed bidirectional benefits for both groups.
“Presenting this project to the National AHEC Organization gave me the opportunity to speak to like-minded individuals about the importance of fostering diversity in the health care workforce and showcase how our project can be utilized as a means to do this,” she added.
Staff members Zoe Hull, M.P.H., Maine AHEC Network program manager, Adina Bercowicz, B.A., project assistant, and Kira Rodriguez, M.H.S., research associate, collaborated with Alam on the poster. The poster will next be presented in person at the NAO biennial meeting in Salt Lake City later this month.