AHEC U, the AHEC web-based distance learning system available to South Carolina healthcare professionals, experienced the largest growth leap in its five-year history during FY 2014-15 with a 35 percent increase in participation. Almost 7,500 AHEC U course certificates were issued to professionals statewide during the past year, representing more than 10,250 participant hours, according to Fay Brown, Upstate AHEC center director. The largest growth occurred in the Upstate area with 3509 certificates issued, followed by Lowcountry, Mid-Carolina and Pee Dee AHECs.
Through evaluations of AHEC U course offerings, 95 percent of professionals indicated their intent to use the knowledge they had gained to enhance healthcare outcomes, said Jennifer Walker, director of distance learning at Upstate AHEC.
A Basic EKG course participant said, “This great review gives enough detail for experienced practitioners to look more carefully at the EKG they will interpret in practice. This class will help me look at the telemetry screen and actually know what I am seeing.”
“I have a much better grasp of the medications utilized in HIV treatment, and that new knowledge was most important to me,” a participant in an “Antivirus Basics” course said.
A “Lateral Violence for Nurses” participant replied: “I believe this lateral violence program should be an annual mandatory course in all institutions. I will take everything I have learned and apply it to my work area.”
Recognizing a need for a more convenient and flexible method of continuing professional education in South Carolina, Upstate AHEC in Greenville launched AHEC U in 2010 by to provide distance learning opportunities as an alternative to traditional live training programs. With an initial offering of 29 on-line courses in 2010, today AHEC U offers nearly 200 web-based courses targeted to a wide variety of healthcare professionals seeking re-certification or continued professional development.
Upstate AHEC Director Brown attributes the large growth during the past year to several factors, including enhanced search engine optimization, increased marketing, and word of mouth promotion among healthcare participants. Professionals employed by AHEC consortium member organizations have access to AHEC U free of charge. To determine if an employer is a consortium member, contact the AHEC Center in your region. Individuals may become members of AHEC U for $49.95 annually, which provides unlimited access to online course completion and credit hours.