Congratulations to Joel Davidson, who is retiring this January after 14 years as the center director for South Central Wisconsin AHEC (SCAHEC) and the former Southwest Wisconsin AHEC (SWAHEC). Joel’s leadership at AHEC has been essential in developing and assisting with so many of AHEC’s programs.
In 2000, Joel created the model for the first AHEC Health Careers Summer Camp. Soon after, other Wisconsin AHEC regions adopted this model, and the summer camp program has been growing since. To date, about 500 high school students from the current SCAHEC and former SWAHEC have attended this camp. Joel says he hears positive feedback every year from the campers, parents and camp partners and feels good about providing students with an opportunity that they wouldn’t have had without AHEC.
Joel is very pleased to have had the chance to work in the area of health literacy, which is so important to reaching successful health outcomes. He has worked with Gundersen Lutheran Health System’s Library in developing an on-line health literacy curriculum for health professions students and staff members, and has worked with Wisconsin Literacy, Inc. and the South Central/Southwest Regional Health Literacy Committee to develop health literacy conferences to assist Wisconsin health care providers in understanding the impacts of low health literacy and how to improve patient/health provider communications.
He has also assisted with the Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine (WARM), a rural education program available to students within the MD program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. He helped develop the grant that established the WARM program, has chaired the WARM Admissions Subcommittee for the last seven years and has been on the subcommittee all eight years of its existence. Through interviewing WARM program applicants, Joel noted that several of them every year reflect on the valuable experiences they received from being involved with AHEC programs such as CHIP and Wisconsin Express.
Joel served on the National AHEC Organization (NAO) Editorial Board for 11 years, chairing it for the last three years, and has been co-editor for many editions of the former NAO Bulletin and now Journal of the National AHEC Organization. Under his leadership, the Journal was changed from a print to an electronic publication, helping to simultaneously expand the reach of its audience and cut the Editorial Board’s budget.
Through a HRSA (Health Resources and Services Administration) grant awarded to the National AHEC Organization, Joel developed a program in the SCAHEC region for Veterans’ Mental and Behavioral Health Training in 2012. As a Navy veteran himself, Joel reports that this training was extremely meaningful for him to coordinate and deliver and provided valuable information and resources to rural health care providers.
“During my time with AHEC, I feel very fortunate to have been able to work with so many extraordinarily talented people who have provided students with excellent educational experiences, teaching them what it is really like to work in a health-related field.” Joel has seen, firsthand, AHEC provide health professions students with life-changing experiences. “I am proud to have had the opportunity to work with such a great organization,” he reflects.