Realizing a need to address the shortage of primary care physicians and the inadequate distribution of health professionals, the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education recommended the establishment of Area Health Education Centers (AHECs) in 1970. These centers were to be linked with university health science centers in an effort to improve access to health care in rural and inner city areas. As a result, the national AHEC program was established in 1972, with the purpose of improving the supply, distribution, retention, and quality of health professionals available to provide primary care services in medically underserved areas.