Northern Highland

About our region

Because of the shortage of health professionals in this area, every health student and professional working in the Northern Highland region is needed and makes a huge difference in the health outcomes of the communities we serve.

Students in the Northern Highland region get the opportunity for hands-on experience in an extremely rural and underserved part of our state. Each health student and professional in the area is an essential part of the community. The small town, collaborative nature of our communities provides students with a connection to residents and colleagues unlike that in urban areas of our state. Students become engaged members of our communities by working together with local public health departments, community service centers, First Nations health care, and more!

Counties served
Serving Florence, Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto, Oneida, Price, Shawano, and Vilas Counties.

What makes this region memorable and different from every other
The many lakes and forests in the region make it a popular vacation destination for Wisconsin and Illinois residents in the summer months, and for cross-country skiers and snowmobilers in the winter. Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty of room to roam throughout vast public lands including the Northern Highland State Forest, Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, and Vilas and Oneida county’s forests.

Some fun facts about this region

  1. The Northern Highland region is home to many First Nations communities: the Ho-Chunk, Lac du Flambeau, Menominee, Forest County Potawatomi, the Sokaogon Mole Lake Chippewa, and Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians. The Great Lakes Intertribal Council headquarters, serving tribes across the state, is located in Lac du Flambeau. 
  2. Wisconsin’s highest elevation resides at Timms Hill in Price County at 1,951.5 feet. Climb the observation tower for a 30-mile view of the Northern Highland region!
  3. The World’s Largest Penny resides in Woodruff, Wisconsin, and although it isn’t an actual coin, it commemorates an extraordinary woman named Dr. Kate Newcomb, who in the 1950s, started the Million Penny Parade which encouraged the community to collect their pennies to fund a local, and much needed, hospital. The concrete statue weighs in at 17,452 pounds.

Northern Highland 2021-22 Impact

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College Students

Rural SIM Labs

In collaboration with Nicolet College, the Rural SIM Labs brings area learners an interprofessional experience to solve rural and underserved healthcare challenges using SIM Manikins. Health professions students participate in simulated healthcare case scenarios that are responsive to rural health care priorities and circumstances. Topics covered include interprofessional education, social determinants of health, and current and emerging health issues.

Mental Health First Aid

Wisconsin Northern Highland AHEC partners with the UW Madison Office of Extension to provide Mental Health First Aid and WeCOPE. Mental Health First Aid, facilitated by The Wisconsin Rural Opioid and Stimulant Engagement (WiROSE) Project, is a national certification program that teaches how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders. As identified in many of the counties in our region’s Community Health Assessments (CHA), mental health is an area needing attention from our providers. This opportunity prepares future providers the skills and confidence needed to show initial support to those who are experiencing a crisis in their community. These trainings happen throughout the year.


A new program coming to Northern Highland AHEC is the Community Health Assessment and Methods Program (CHAMP). Learners will explore how the social determinants of health and built environments impact community health by completing a ‘windshield’ survey in a rural or underserved community of their choice. Students will examine data to select a priority health concern, identify evidence-based interventions that address the selected concern, and disseminate their findings and make recommendations to the community. This program runs concurrent to the academic calendar.

Alzheimer’s Externship

Wisconsin Northern Highland AHEC partners with the UW Madison Alzheimer’s Institute to offer a rural immersive experience with clinicians in the northwoods. The Alzheimer’s Externship provides an immersive rural rotation for first year MD students focused on geriatric and dementia healthcare modalities. With the goal to increase the knowledge and ability of future physicians to provide long-term, interdisciplinary care to patients, students have the opportunity to shadow professionals between the communities of Rhinelander, Richland Center, Madison and Milwaukee.

Currently Practicing Healthcare Professionals

Providers and Teens Communicating for Health

The Providers and Teens Communicating for Health program improves adolescent health care experiences by offering peer-to-peer and provider interactive workshops. This continuing education opportunity for practicing professionals provides insight by young people on how to encourage young people to play an active role in their health and health care. Physicians teach a complimentary session about providing culturally competent LGBTQ healthcare from a primary care perspective and guidance for implementation into systems policy and personal practice. This yearly event occurs in the winter.

Get to know us!

“Looking at a map of the Northern Highland AHEC region would only begin to depict the beauty of the northwoods: water, trees, and the incredible topography of this part of the state makes working here that much more great!” – Gail Kell, Director of the Northern Highlands AHEC

About our staff

Gail Kell
(715) 218-6699

Contact Gail

What rural health disparity are you passionate about fixing, and how would you go about achieving it? 

I’m passionate about bringing resources to our providers and caregivers that help combat opioid and substance use disorders, which are present challenges in our rural communities. This is definitely an underserved population in our state, but I’m uplifted by the “we’re in this together” mentality that northwoods health organizations exhibit. We’ve been particularly successful with our ‘Overcoming Addiction Together’ series of continuing education workshops.

What are some things about this region that you’re in love with?

Looking at a map of the Northern Highland AHEC region would only begin to depict the beauty of the northwoods: water, trees, and the incredible topography of this part of the state makes working here that much more great! The partners we work alongside and the community we serve are amazing! The role of our regional center is a vital part of our health systems in the northwoods, and practicing in the beauty of the northwoods with passionate people makes it that much better.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Every time I travel in the northwoods, a certain calm comes over me.  Life slows down for a little while. You’re able to breathe and relax a bit deeper. I inevitably feel my shoulders drop and feel the stress of day-to-day life wash away.

Caitlyn Mowatt
Education and Outreach Coordinator
(608) 399-4177

Contact Caitlyn