Working for Indian Health Services?

  1. Anybody out there currently or recently working for IHS - Indian Health Services? Especially in some of the rural areas of the Southwest...I was wondering how or if it differs from working for a mainstream rural hospital? Did you experience culture shock? Did you have any problems fitting in or being accepted by the native population? Any information at all would be appreciated.
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  2. 3 Comments

  3. by   Quickbeam
    This was what I wanted to do with my BSN but...it is not easy to work for IHS if you are not native. There is preferential hiring. You may want to think of what you can offer to make yourself stand out somewhat from the crowd.

    I did clinic work on a reservation throughout nursing school. Depending on the remoteness of the reservation, it can be a very different culture and life. Right now, diabetes is near epidemic on most reservations. Life span is still shockingly low.

    I believe there is a Native American nurse thread here somewhere...you might want to search that thread and ask cultural questions there. Best wishes to you.
  4. by   Selke
    You can get hired by IHS if you're not a tribal member -- if there are insufficient NA nurses applying for the job, which is usually the case, they will consider others.

    Probably varies facility to facility, unit to unit, like with any hospital -- the nursing culture can vary and it's hard to know what it's like until you're there. I'm white and am working as a contract nurse at one of the southwest facilities. I haven't encountered any race-based hostility that I am aware of (who knows what people say behind our backs) but have run into one nasty white nurse. These facilities are generally very short of help and need all the RNs they can get. People are people wherever you go and have the same needs, so if you can figure out how to meet those needs and provide good nursing care, from your heart, you'll do OK. Overall the Navajo are the nicest group of pts I've ever cared for.

    The biggest culture shock I encounter is that of working for a gov't facility. I've always worked "civilian" in the private sector. You don't have supplies and amenities you find in a private facility competing for pts. There are many cultural beliefs that run in opposition to how "modern healthcare" is structured which negatively impacts on how people utilize the system. IHS facilities are located in rural or remote areas, which is not where many people want to work and live. If you like rural or remote areas, this could be for you. This is my first rural experience, and from what other nurses have told me, it's like rural health care anywhere -- minimal staffing, you become self-reliant because there aren't a lot of other resources around like in a big city hospital. I want to wind up back in a city, but treasure this experience.

    Maybe you should try working as a traveller to get a taste of it? Have you checked out the IHS website?
  5. by   -Midget-
    Here is a specific thread about IHS, as well as a link to the Native American Indian (patient) Nursing Forum. I hope this information is helpul to you. Although I'm only a pre-nursing student, I've read a lot about people's experience with IHS, and they all speak highly of it.

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