Nursing on Indian Reservations

  1. Hi Everyone,
    I am currently a BSN student and I also plan on minoring in American Indian Studies. I've always been very interested in Native Americans and would like to work for a reservation as either a private tribal hire or through the government's Indian Health Service program. Does anyone have any experience working on Indian reservations? I'm very curious to hear about any experiences. Any info would be great. Thanks!!
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  2. 8 Comments

  3. by   ERNurse752
    Sorry, I have no clue about it...just didn't want you to think you were being ignored!
  4. by   wolfox
    I have worked home health for a private agency on the reservation; LTC and postpartum for IHS in Navajo-land. When I quit the home health job on the res, my patients provided me a home on the res so that I would stay on and look after them. My husband is Northern Plains Native american and his mother is a social worker and a nurse. Do you have any specific questions?
  5. by   fiestynurse
    Didn't the UWEC School of Nursing have a clinical experience that you could participate in on the Menomonie Indian Reservation?
    I graduated from the UW Nursing School in Madison in 1978 and I remember that some of my fellow students did clinicals at the various reservations around the state.
    Anyway, I know that the Indian Health Care facilities are much improved because of casino money and improved federal funding. Lots of community outreach and education being done. Diabetes is especially prevalent amoung the Native American population, so this is a big focus.
    I would recommend getting a public health nurse certificate. The jobs that I have seen on reservations here in California usually require this as a prerequisite. There is a public health nurse position being advertised right now for the Chumash Indian Clinic
    that starts at $62,000/yr!
  6. by   wolfox
    The tribes/states all differ in what preparation would be best. Some tribes don't have their own facilities, some are tribally owned and some are IHS-or federally-owned. The tribal and IHS will be Indian preference. On the Navajo reservation (the largest NA population in the country), public health jobs are not office jobs, but require that you travel to people;s homes on the reservation. The reservation covers four states and there are NO street signs-you take directions usually based on Navajo landmark names, counting mile-markers and cattle grates. Many of the patients are non-English speaking or English as second language.

    It would actually be easier to get a job on the Navajo Nation or with a tribally owned facility in North Dakota with a specialization in any of the fields that are in demand right now than it would if you had an advanced degree in public health. The only white public health nurse I know on the reservation here is married 10 years to a Navajo and speaks Navajo. I've never seen a Navajo nurse in the ER or ICU on the reservation.

    My advice would be to narrow your search from Native American to the tribe and the state that you are interested in, as well as the area of nursing that you are most interested in.
  7. by   UWECfuturenurse
    Thanks a lot for your replies wolfox and fiestynurse! I'm actually planning on going on to graduate school to become a family health nurse practitioner. They have a very good program here at Eau Claire. Do you think there is much of a market for FNP's? What do you think is a better way to go...private tribal hire or working through the IHS?
  8. by   prn nurse
    Shoshone Reservation in Wyoming. The area I toured was about an hours' drive south of Jackson Hole. The health facilities were woefully inadequate and downright pathetic. I swore I would go back someday and work my fingers to the bone to undo some of the neglect....but I never did. If any one wanted to work where they would be desperately needed, that would be the place. Plus the environment is awesomely beautiful, with snow skiing in winter and all the hiking you could want in the summer.....plus lotsa other fun stuff.
  9. by   Rustyhammer
    Having grown up on the "rez" I just wonder...Why would you want to work there? Have you ever been on a rez? Do you have any idea what life is like there?
    Life is different there and the Indian way of thinking can blow you away.
    -Russell
  10. by   wolfox
    Without a doubt, IHS is the way to go. It's federal government and they have great benies as well as job permenence. And they're dying for FNPs in underserved areas. You can take out federal loans for schooling and the government will pay them off for you if you agree to work on the res. They often can't get docs aout here, so you could work on the Navajo res at a chapter house clinic. The chapter house is like a local clan government building. You will become much more a part of the community at a chapter house-if that is your goal. Most of the docs and FNPs don't stay and don't have any dedication to the community but if you demonstrate a commitment to good patient care and a genuine interest in the community, you will be rewarded with respect and care from the community that you are in.

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