Michigan AHEC Launches U.P. Regional Center

This release was prepared by Michigan AHEC:

Detroit, Mich. – The Michigan Area Health Education Center has announced the launch of its Upper Peninsula Regional Center. Located at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, the center will be responsible for implementing AHEC goals in 15 counties: Alger, Baraga, Chippewa, Delta, Dickinson, Gogebic, Houghton, Iron, Keweenaw, Luce, Mackinac, Marquette, Menominee, Ontonagon and Schoolcraft.

Established by Wayne State University in 2010, Michigan AHEC seeks to enhance access to quality health care, particularly primary and preventive care, by improving the supply and distribution of health care professionals through community and educational partnerships. Through a statewide network of regional centers, Michigan AHEC prepares underrepresented and disadvantaged youth for health care careers, promotes clinical training opportunities for students in shortage areas and provides continuing education programs for health professionals. Congress created the national AHEC program in 1971.

“Michigan AHEC is excited about extending our reach and resources to the Upper Peninsula,” said Dr. Ramona Benkert, Ph.D., A.N.P.-B.C., F.A.A.N.P., associate dean for clinical and academic affairs of the WSU College of Nursing and co-principal investigator of the Michigan AHEC program. “The Upper Peninsula has a severe shortage of primary care and other health professionals. We are pleased Northern Michigan University has joined the Michigan AHEC team and look forward to working with the university and the community to identify and address northern Michigan’s health care workforce needs.”

As host partner for the Upper Peninsula Regional Center, NMU offers medical pre-professional programs as well as certificate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in nursing, clinical lab sciences, and allied health. Students also have the opportunity to participate in the Early Assurance Program, an initiative that targets students from underserved rural or urban areas, first-generation college students, graduates from low-income high schools, students who are Pell grant-eligible or those who are interested in practicing medicine in a high-need specialty in areas where there are health care shortages.

“We are very happy to have Northern Michigan University serve as our host partner in the state’s AHEC network,” said Valerie M. Parisi, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., dean of the WSU School of Medicine and co-principal investigator of the Michigan AHEC program. “The northern regions of our great state also are underserved areas in terms of access to health care. Having NMU join us in this effort will be crucial to further addressing this issue.”

The Upper Peninsula Regional Center is the fourth of Michigan AHEC’s five regional centers. The Southeast Regional Center, established in 2011, is located in Detroit and hosted by the Greater Detroit Area Health Council. Opened in 2012, the Mid-Central Regional Center is hosted by Central Michigan University. The Western Regional Center, launched in 2013 and located in Grand Rapids, is hosted by Western Michigan University. The Northern Lower Regional Center is expected to open in 2015.

Dr. Mary Jane Tremethick, assistant dean and director of the NMU School of Health and Human Performance, was appointed interim executive director of the Upper Peninsula Regional Center. In this role, Tremethick will plan, organize, direct and evaluate all aspects of the center, including financial administration, program planning and development, personnel management, fundraising, and public relations and marketing. Before becoming a professor at NMU in 2000, she served as assistant professor in the department of Health Education and Promotion at Western Illinois State University, and she worked for several years as a registered nurse at Marquette (Mich.) General Hospital. Tremethick earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing and master’s degree in community college teaching from Northern Michigan University and her doctorate from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Cindy Noble was named program manager for the Upper Peninsula Regional Center. She will manage programs, coordinate data collection, and develop public relations, marketing and community engagement strategies. Noble previously served as parks and recreation coordinator for the city of Marquette. Her duties included supervising staff at multiple municipal facilities, administering and executing contracts, writing grant proposals, and coordinating department communications and activities. Noble taught courses in health promotion and personal training as an adjunct instructor at Northern Michigan University, where she earned her master’s degree. She earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota, Morris.

Michigan AHEC is funded by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, The Kresge Foundation and Wayne State University. Academic partners include Wayne State University’s College of Nursing, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, School of Medicine and School of Social Work; the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry; Central Michigan University; Western Michigan University; and Northern Michigan University.

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About the Michigan Area Health Education Center

The Michigan Area Health Education Center, a program of Wayne State University, strengthens the state’s health care workforce by recruiting, training and retaining health professionals committed to increasing access to primary care. To learn more, visit http://miahec.wayne.edu.


About Northern Michigan University

Northern Michigan University, located in Marquette, Mich., has a population of about 9,000 undergraduate and graduate students. It offers nearly 180 degree programs, including certificates, one and two-year degrees, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and, if approved by the Higher Learning Commission, will offer its first doctorate in fall 2014. The dynamic four-year public university is known for its two award-winning leadership programs, cutting-edge technology initiatives and nationally recognized academic programs. For more information, visit http://www.nmu.edu.  

Prepared By
Kristi Evans
News Director