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Joe Langley
Joe Langley

Southwest Oklahoma
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Cameron University
2800 West Gore
Lawton, OK 73505
580.581.2543 fax

Regional Centers | Southwest

Program Summary

SwAHEC works to maintain relationships to serve as a connection between the community and the academy: to help interpret and respond to the healthcare educational needs of southwest Oklahoma.   SwAHEC works to identify and help meet healthcare concerns unique to the southwest Oklahoma region. Not the least of the concerns is working to assure an adequate healthcare workforce for the region.  The programs of SwAHEC are designed to recruit and mentor those who may explore healthcare careers, support and assist those who have entered into clinical or professional training, and then to encourage and provide for the educational needs of those professionals who are serving the healthcare needs of the region.  As is true for all of the Oklahoma AHEC centers, SwAHEC has a special emphasis on serving the rural, underrepresented, and underserved healthcare needs of the region.  Additionally, one unique area of emphasis is on the need for mental health care in rural Oklahoma.  Another significant need for all of western Oklahoma is expansion of allied health providers.  And yet another concern is for more dental care for the region.  SwAHEC depends on an Advisory Council whose purpose is to help identify the healthcare gaps of the region so that the center can creatively identify those places where we can “scratch where it itches.”   

Career Exploration and Awareness

SwAHEC offers the opportunity for students to “try-on” healthcare careers, through exploration and job-shadowing opportunities.  Working in partnership with middle schools and high schools in southwest Oklahoma, students are offered the opportunity to explore a broad range of healthcare career options—from physicians, to nurses, to researchers, to physical or occupational therapists, to pharmacists, to med techs, to behavioral health professionals, to medical stenographers.  If a student wants to be a veterinarian, he or she will find opportunities for career exploration with SwAHEC as well. One new career exploration program being offered is to work as a clinical trials manager.

One area of the exploration program that has shown significant growth is with college-aged students.  This has been shown to be a critical piece for those who are interested in pursuing entrance into professional schools.  Selection committees look not only for excellent grades by undergraduate students applying to professional training, but also look at the extra-curricular career exploration opportunities in which the students participated.  It is anticipated that there will be growth to offer adults opportunities to explore healthcare careers.          

Summer Day Camps

For one week each summer SwAHEC hosts a resident science camp for eight and ninth grade students. The participants go out in the field and collect water samples from area lakes, ponds, streams, drinking water sources, pools and other water sources and bring them back to the laboratory for testing to determine “What is that stuff in the water?” The participants, under the supervision of science mentors, learn about testing for and recognizing various coliforms and pathogens. The camp is free and is provided by grant awarded by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education for students that are interested in science and would like a hands-on, educational, fun-filled summer camp. Participants experience classroom/lab activities and explore health careers. The dates for the next summer academy are May 31- June 6, 2009.
Beth Young
Healthcare Career Coordinator
(580) 581-2281

Recent Camps

  • Science Detectives Summer Academy
    Cameron University, Lawton, Oklahoma
    Entering grades 9-10
    Date: June 3 – 8, 2010
    Residential Camp:  Purpose of the camp is to bridge the gap between talking about science and doing science.  Activities include the students going out into the field, collecting samples taking them back into the laboratory and testing them to determine “Is there a growing number of organisms developing resistance to antibiotics?”  This summer academy will include experience in field biology, laboratory science and inquiry, as well as exploration of healthcare careers.  It is also an opportunity to experience what it is like to study and live on a college campus.  Through the course of the academy, students will be introduced to methods of collecting samples, scientific laboratory methods, scientific inquiry, and opportunities for high school students to pursue biomedical education through the Oklahoma Technology Centers, as well as explore and experience healthcare careers in a hospital setting. Each evening there are social activities, and on the last morning a reception and presentation of the outcomes for family members is held, and is open to the public.  This camp is underwritten by a grant from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.  For more information contact: Dr. Joe Langley at 580-581-2852, jlangeley@cameron.edu or Beth Young at 580-581-2281, byoung@cameron.edu.
  • Medical Mystery Camp
    Western Oklahoma State College and Jackson County Memorial Hospital, Altus, Oklahoma
    Entering grades 9-12
    Date:  June 16 – 17, 2010
    Commuter Camp:  Purpose of the camp is to introduce students to different health professions and to give them experience in problem solving and teamwork.  It is also an exercise in prevention.  Students will have hands on activities in simulation labs and will tour the local hospitals.  Students will leave camp with certification in CPR and First Aid. For additional information contact Beth Young, 580-581-2281, byoung@cameron.edu.


Program Highlights

  • Exploration numbers consistently increase annually. Kids are truly getting good exposure to health careers through job shadowing, mentoring, and exploration. SwAHEC provides more exploration hours per student across the board. Outstanding collaborations have made this expansion possible; with their help, SwAHEC is able to reach more kids at the same funding rate.
  • The numbers of school systems and willing preceptors continues to grow. Both are calling SwAHEC independently requesting to be a part of the program. Relationships between the center and the communities in the region have strengthened due to our reputation of having a solid program.
  • Awareness activities have increased annually. SwAHEC is a visible fixture in career fairs, health fairs, classrooms, and public events informing and educating youth on health careers and healthy living.
  • The “Club Scrub” program for youth is designed to improve and strengthen the health care cluster through awareness and job shadowing. The program, developed in partnership between SwAHEC and the Western Technology Center in Burns Flat, Oklahoma, is an incredible success. These programs continue to expand in Southwest Oklahoma and many more across the country, following SwAHEC’s model. This program gives youth an opportunity to explore health career possibilities while having fun.
  • SwAHEC has collaborated on Camp Round Up. This summer camp, for ages 7-16, is being offered to single parent and under privileged kids due to a large networking “web of partners” in Southwest Oklahoma. All partners see the value of such a camp and SwAHEC takes full advantage to ensure that all kids are exposed to health careers and health hygiene during their stay.
  • Assisted in the development of Camp K.I.D.S., a math and science camp on the campus of Cameron University for elementary aged underprivileged students. SwAHEC incorporated health careers awareness activities over the five days as well as support math and science learning activities.
  • Staff serves on numerous councils, advisory boards and board of directors throughout the Southwest Oklahoma region, making SWAHEC a viable partner in future ventures.

Rural Health

Service provision in the rural health program is as diverse as the population served. Not only does SwAHEC assist medical and physician assistant students with their clinical rotations, they also provide rural communities with a wide variety of community programs and services that residents would not have had the opportunity to attend otherwise. Strong community involvement has opened many new doors, giving SwAHEC the ability to actively participate in non-traditional arenas.

Each year SwAHEC receives medical students to place in rural rotations.  With the increase in students, preceptors had to handle the extra load, staff time commitment to the program doubled, and administrative support increased as well.

Program Highlights

  • SwAHEC provides support for rural clinical rotations for the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, as well as students from other medical schools and Physician Associate programs; this includes students, preceptors, and time all without a break in service.

  • The center works with the local residency program.

  • SWAHEC has been an early supporter of the Comanche County Multidisciplinary Team and Child Advocacy Center, the Sanctuary. This facility project is a model facility and is growing in use by surrounding counties and adjacent states. Child abuse is a disturbing problem in Southwest Oklahoma and SwAHEC is taking a leading role in addressing the affects of abuse and neglect.

  • Between 75-90% of rural rotation students indicate that they have an interest in practicing in a rural environment.

  • The Kids into Health Careers program has been presented in over 100 locations impacting a large number of students. This program is presented to grade-school aged children by medical students who are completing their rural rotations.

Continuing and Community Education

SwAHEC provides opportunities for personal growth through community education and professional growth through continuing education programs. Programs, conferences, symposiums, and fairs take place with SwAHEC support and guidance. The service provided to communities and professionals throughout southwest Oklahoma are available locally to avoid having to travel long distances for similar opportunities

  • Geriatric Education Center is a program offered in partnership with the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center Gerontology program.  This is an opportunity for healthcare professionals and interested individuals to receive special “grand rounds” and other information to learn about the special needs of the aging.

  • Lance Armstrong Foundation “Livestrong” Program is offered to introduce rural, southwest Oklahoma cancer survivors and their families—to the offer support opportunities and to introduce the “Livestrong” work book.

  • SwAHEC has brought to the region programs and seminars that are not available in other parts of the state.  This is especially true for mental health professionals in the region.

  • Many of the staff serves on state, regional and local boards or advisory councils which directly support the mission of AHEC.



Jenny Breedon
Clinical Coordinator

Lora Young
Adminstrative Assistant