Any IHS scholarship obligation nurses here?

  1. 1
    Wondering if there are any Native nurses working off their IHS Scholarship obligation here.

    I am, and I'm miserable.

    Looking for anyone to commiserate with.

    I'm tired of being in denial. No more faking a positive attitude. Simply put, signing the IHS Scholarship contract was the worst mistake of my life.

    Are there any kindered spirits here?
    really? likes this.
  2. Get our hottest nursing topics delivered to your inbox.

  3. 8 Comments so far...

  4. 0
    I am curious as to why you are miserable? Are you currently paying back your funding by service obligation? If so where? Did you have a location choice? How many years do you have to pay back?
    I am Alaskan Native Inupiaq - the Alaska Native Medical Center a Magnet facility, has a wonderful working environment and they link tribal villages throughout Alaska. I am fully aware that other IHS facilities are not run so well nor do they have top of the line techonology. I do not currently have an IHS obligation but likely will as I pursue my PhD. However, I hope to pay back in an IHS research, health prevention, or homeland security environment. Your response is appreciated.
  5. 3
    Yes, I'm currently paying back my scholarship by service obligation. I don't want to give any details since this is a public forum and the Native nursing community is so....small.

    I'm only 1 year into it and have 3 to go, which isn't very long, but I was very, very naive when I signed the contract. The idea of full scholarship would appeal to anyone, but if I'd had any idea how bad things were for the IHS and their facilities, I would never have agreed to the contract.

    I had a choice of location, and after researching conditions at IHS facilities on reservations, choose an urban position. But I don't think it would matter much. The urban facilities are even more underfunded and forgotten than the reservation facilities, despite urban Native people having the greatest need and density in population.

    It's not really the funding that's the issue. It's the general mentality that permeates my workplace. As we all know, there is always some ugly truth in every stereotype, and I spend my days with co-workers who conform to a very unfortunate stereotype: that of the lazy, government Indian. Before you recoil in politically correct shock, keep in mind I'm a full-blood Indian myself - and let me explain.

    I love my people, but as I get older, (I'm 37), I move farther and farther away from a place of sympathy about our plight as a culture. I grew up in poverty in a mix of reservation and urban upbringing, like most of my Indian co-workers. But that is where the commonality ends, for me.

    The thing that I cannot contend with, on a day-to-day basis, is the painfully apparent lack of educated people with solid work ethics that are employed by the facility I work for. The standards and morale are so incredibly low around here that it's depressing.

    Our social workers/case managers don't have college degrees or licenses. Our supervisors and directors are rarely present. When they are, they sit in their offices with doors closed. No new employees are provided with any kind of orientation. Meetings are unproductive and silent. Charting and documentation is still done by hand on carbons. 2 hour lunches are common, and everyone clocks out at 5PM and leaves like they can't wait to get out.

    Basic customer service and even social skills are marginal at best. People are rude, unmotivated, unproductive, under-educated, and it trickles down to the clients/patients all the time. On top of all that, a good majority of the workers here have alcohol and drug problems themselves. Everyone turns a blind eye to it. The directors have no problem buying a 52' flat screen monitor/TV for their "conference room" but the licensed staff are crucially underpaid in salary (many thousands below market) and the building is falling apart and filthy.

    I could go on and on and on, but basically, doing the IHS scholarship/service obligation is NOT a good choice for a person who wants to work in a system where people at least try to do things correctly or strive for any kind of excellence. Indians have been addicted to government charity for too long (and increasingly, casino revenue) and it has destroyed many Indian people's will to better themselves, by themselves. I see this every day in both my co-workers and my clients. Medication compliance is at nearly zero, and substance abuse, diabetes and MRSA are ravaging the urban Native population at 10 times the rate of reservation populations.

    I know it's only a few more years. Maybe when I was in my 20's I might have tolerated working in a place like this better. But at my age, this just makes me want to RETIRE from both nursing and being Native as soon as I can! I thought this would be an exciting new chapter in my professional life, and that I would be doing something positive for my people. Instead, I'm stuck in a situation where opportunities to make a difference are met with INDIFFERENCE, and as much as I try to do a good job and stay positive, I get beaten down every day to the point of feeling like I might as well give up, take a 2 hour lunch and be rude to the clients like everyone else.

    So there you have it. Thanks.
    Pauligirl, ruralnurs, and Thunderwolf like this.
  6. 0
    Hello!
    I am. I'm excited about it though... call me naive. But I know people who have worked for IHS and have liked it.
    Maybe a new facility would be great for you? Feel free to PM me... what district are you in?
  7. 0
    I, too, was able to attend nursing school thanks to an IHS scholarship. I had a 2 year pay-back but ended up staying 16+ years. I was able to "do my time" at a tribally-administered ambulatory care semi-rural clinic, rather than purely an IHS facility, which is probably what made the difference. I ran into some of the same issues as mclennan but I also met a lot of wonderful people. To me, the administrators (usually non-Indians) were the most difficult to deal with. Luckily, I was able to stay in my clinic, do my job to the best of my ability & avoid the politics for the most part. When the time came, it was very difficult to leave; I had watched children grow up (& not hate me even though I had to give them immunizations!), & attended funerals for elders that walked on. I would not trade my time there, even the hard times, for anything. It was not only a learning experience for me but an opportunity for growth. I still have many ties to this community, especially since my own reservation is 2000 miles away.
    Maybe you could look into transferring to another eligible site? Other than that, focus on the good that you can do, the small successes, because they are there. Make positive changes but start small, such as updating a form or two or initiating a new tracking/reporting form that will be helpful to you & your staff. Good luck.
  8. 0
    Quote from mclennan

    I know it's only a few more years. Maybe when I was in my 20's I might have tolerated working in a place like this better. But at my age, this just makes me want to RETIRE from both nursing and being Native as soon as I can! I thought this would be an exciting new chapter in my professional life, and that I would be doing something positive for my people. Instead, I'm stuck in a situation where opportunities to make a difference are met with INDIFFERENCE, and as much as I try to do a good job and stay positive, I get beaten down every day to the point of feeling like I might as well give up, take a 2 hour lunch and be rude to the clients like everyone else.

    So there you have it. Thanks.
    Only one person needs to change. Looks like it's time to get a fire going and get out your drum and rattle. Become an eagle and see what you don't see now. If I was in the states, I'd join you!
  9. 0
    How's it going? I am sending you good thoughts, I know what you are saying. You must do your best inspite of your surroundings, never give up on your integrity.
  10. 0
    I'm 13 months into my IHS LRP contract and I wish I could undo it. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that I would end up owing 3x the amount I got if I didn't complete the contract. I work in Anchorage at a "magnet facility" (I know now that doesn't mean anything) and it is a nightmare. The staffing is ridiculous. There is no one on our unit that has been there over 2 years. The pay isn't very good compared to other hospitals in the area so they get employees who are interested in loan repayment, and some really bad staff. It's just not a good environment and I feel so trapped. I don't think I would ever sign a contract again. I'm just wondering what happens if you only complete 18 months or 22? Do they really come after you for those last 2 months?
  11. 0
    Obviously you work in the office side of things....Alaska Native Medical Center is not so good on the front-line care side of things. A wonderful work environment stocks toilet paper in the bathrooms.


Top