MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WTRF) – A grant renewal was awarded to the West Virginia Area Health Education Centers (WV AHEC) worth $7.2 million to support five centers throughout the state, states a report by WBOY.

The grant will be given out over five years at $1,442,500 per year and was awarded by the Health Resources and Services Administration. The money is meant to help the centers improve local health education and training networks, according to WVU Health Sciences.

Jessica Stidham of the Rural Community Health Scholars program manager shared that the goals of the West Virginia Area Health Education Centers include diversity, distribution and practice transformation. The community-based experiential training serves West Virginians through the development and maintenance of a health care workforce that is dedicated to delivering high quality care in their ever changing health care delivery system.

The WV AHEC serves 50 counties and works with health professionals and those interested in health. The Rural Community Health Scholars program, which helps prepare individuals to work in rural and underserved communities by providing supplemental educational opportunities is a part of that.

Stidham went on to share with WBOY that the program is a foundation for WVU health profession students to not only assess the needs of rural populations in West Virginia but to develop relationships with professionals to break down health related barriers facing communities.