UK HealthCare

UK celebrates 30 years of Voluntary Faculty Program, annual conference

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine's Bill Cutrer (left) presented at the 30th annual UK Voluntary Faculty Program conference. Various UK colleges and programs were represented (right) at the conference. Photos provided.
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine's Bill Cutrer (left) presented at the 30th annual UK Voluntary Faculty Program conference. Various UK colleges and programs were represented (right) at the conference. Photos provided.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 5, 2024) — The University of Kentucky is celebrating 30 years of a special program designed to support the community-based education of students across health care-related fields.

The UK Voluntary Faculty Program was developed in 1994 as a collaboration among the Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) program and the UK health careers colleges in order to support the Voluntary Faculty throughout Kentucky. These health care professionals, who are actively practicing in their communities, partner with UK to give students hands-on, community-focused experiences.

“Over the last three decades we’ve cultivated a dynamic learning environment for University of Kentucky students in a crucial partnership with our volunteer faculty,” said James Ballard, Ed.D., director of the UK Center for Interprofessional and Community Health Education (CICHE), which oversees the Voluntary Faculty Program.

“If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a network of practicing health care professionals to empower the next generation of care providers,” said Ballard. “This program offers invaluable real-world insights and experiences, ensuring our students graduate equipped to make meaningful contributions to the health and wellness of our society.”

On Saturday, March 23, UK hosted its 30th annual Voluntary Faculty Conference at the Campbell House Inn. This year’s theme was “Celebrating the Past and Preparing for the Future.”

It’s an annual effort to honor, support and foster collaboration with health professionals who provide community-engaged clinical education in partnership with the UK faculty, professional staff and regional Area Health Education Center (AHEC) colleagues and partners. AHEC works to help support, train, recruit and retain the best health professionals in Kentucky.

“We recognize the incredible contributions our voluntary faculty make every single day for our students. Our hope is this conference is one way we can offer support and show how truly appreciative we are for this community of educators,” said Ballard.  

The conference kicked off with a presentation from Bill Cutrer, M.D., associate dean for Undergraduate Medical Education and the director of the Office of Undergraduate Medical Education at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. The keynote was titled “Intentionally Refining Learning Encounters to Foster Trainee Expertise Development.”  

The colleges of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Public Health along with the Dietetics, Physical Therapy and Physician Assistant programs each had specific sessions for their respective professionals.

Topics ranged from community-engaged dentistry practices to exploring food as medicine to the changing landscape of Kentucky’s opioid epidemic.

The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education’s Leslie M. Sizemore, Ph.D., closed the conference. The assistant vice president of workforce and economic initiatives gave a presentation titled “Public and Private Partnerships Impacting Health Workforce: The Response by Kentucky Higher Education.”

“Again, we appreciate the incredible amount of work and dedication that our voluntary faculty have for our students,” said Ballard. “Our sincere thanks to those who presented at the 30th annual Voluntary Faculty Conference and shared their time and expertise with the UK community.”

About the Center for Interprofessional and Community Health Education (CICHE)
On July 1, 2022, the Center for Interprofessional Health Education (CIHE) joined forces with the Area Health Education Center (AHEC) to establish the Center for Interprofessional and Community Health Education (CICHE), in a true community-campus collaboration to strengthen the development and distribution of an effective, diverse, and collaborative health workforce for the Commonwealth of Kentucky and beyond.

About the Area Health Education Center (AHEC)
Through UK Area Health Education Center (AHEC), CICHE is engaged in a collaborative effort with the University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville Health Science Center and eight regional centers to positively affect the distribution of health professionals throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  The eight regional centers, or AHECs are strategically located throughout the state. To learn more about the importance of AHECs, please visit the National AHEC Organization website.

UK HealthCare is the hospitals and clinics of the University of Kentucky. But it is so much more. It is more than 10,000 dedicated health care professionals committed to providing advanced subspecialty care for the most critically injured and ill patients from the Commonwealth and beyond. It also is the home of the state’s only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, a Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that cares for the tiniest and sickest newborns, the region’s only Level 1 trauma center and Kentucky’s top hospital ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

As an academic research institution, we are continuously pursuing the next generation of cures, treatments, protocols and policies. Our discoveries have the potential to change what’s medically possible within our lifetimes. Our educators and thought leaders are transforming the health care landscape as our six health professions colleges teach the next generation of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care professionals, spreading the highest standards of care. UK HealthCare is the power of advanced medicine committed to creating a healthier Kentucky, now and for generations to come.