Boston University Area Health Education Center


The central goals of the Boston University Area Health Education Center (BU AHEC) are to foster an interest in primary care careers for medical students and residents, and to support the practice and teaching of primary care medicine in the community.


Since its establishment in 1978, the Boston University Area Health Education Center has worked to increase the training of medical students in community-based practices, developed many office practices of family physicians as teaching sites, established the Tufts Family Medicine Residency Program and built the framework for the new Department of Family Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.

The BU AHEC works closely with the Statewide AHEC Program, which is headquartered at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The BU AHEC is one of 8 Regional AHECs around the state which support the entry of minority youth into health careers, interpreter training, and offer continuing education programs for health professionals. The BU AHEC is the center whose specific charge is the development of primary care training opportunities for medical students and residents.


Cooperative Mentorship Program

To increase the availability of community training experiences for medical students, the BU AHEC Office coordinates clinical assignments in family medicine for Boston area medical students through the Cooperative Mentorship Program. Sponsored by the Massachusetts Academy of Family Physicians and administered by the BU AHEC Office, this program matches more than 100 first- and second-year students with family physician mentors in Greater Boston for required courses at Tufts and Boston University and an elective experience at Harvard. The Mentorship program is supported by workshops in physical examination and patient interviewing. AHEC’s outreach efforts have resulted in a fair distribution of scarce precepting resources in family medicine for the three schools, ensuring high quality preceptors for all students in the program.

If you are a Board-Certified Family Physician and would like to be a mentor for a first-year student from either Tufts or Boston University Schools of Medicine in the MAFP Cooperative Mentorship Program, click here.

Summer Externship Program

The BU AHEC helps design and run the Summer Externship program for medical students who have completed their first year at Tufts and Boston University medical schools. This program places students directly in primary care doctors’ offices for five to six weeks. The Summer Externship operates nationwide, and is coordinated by online discussion groups and assignments directed by medical school faculty.

Primary Care Student Groups

The BU AHEC works with student organizations at BUSM to encourage interest in careers in primary care medicine. The office supports interest groups in Pediatrics, General Internal Medicine, and Family Medicine by running clinical skills workshops and sponsoring guest speakers.

Health Careers Courses

The AHEC works with medical school faculty and students to develop and run courses for the Boston AHEC Youth to Health Careers program for minority high school youth in Boston.

Development of Primary Care Teaching Sites

The BU AHEC develops and supports a network of primary care teaching sites north of Boston, in Southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod to support the BUSM Family Medicine Clerkship and the Summer Externship Programs.

Please contact us if you would like more information.

Peter F. Shaw, Ph.D.
Boston University AHEC

Primary teaching affiliate
of BU School of Medicine