Working for the Indian Health Service

  1. Hello!
    I've been interested in working on a Native American reservation. To boot, I've discovered that in certain situations, some of my nursing school loans can be paid off in the process. I'm curious to hear about other peoples' experiences. I'm also not sure if I need to be part Native American to work in the Native American service. I'd really appreciate it if somebody could shed some light. Thanks!!
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    About Dempather

    Joined: Jul '06; Posts: 180; Likes: 65
    Specialty: Emergency Room, Cardiology, Medicine


  3. by   vetnrse
    No, you dont need to be Native to work for the IHS. There is and always has been a shortage of nurses on the reservations. Your services are greatly needed. Good luck!
  4. by   3dogs1cat
    You do not need to be Native to work for the IHS. Scholarships are available for the most needed places. We just referred one of our contract nurses to Ft. Defiance, AZ hospital for loan repayment. If you have always lived in places that have Wal-Mart, grocery stores, etc.. You may do better at an outlying hospital. Some of our facilities here on the Navajo Reservation our very rural, meaning 140 miles from the nearest town with anything at all. There are many things you give up to be rural but so many other things you can gain from the people you work with. I am sure any IHS facility would be happy to have you.
  5. by   ilmbg
    As the other posters have already told you, you don't have to be a Native to work for IHS/BIA. I worked for them for a few years- on a couple different res's. You will get your loans paid off if you work for a few years for them. Now, you are not working for the Native American, but for the Federal Government. I have had good and bad experiences. I also have 2 other friends who came from the private sector, then went to IHS/BIA. Depending on what res you are on will dictate how they feel about you. There are res's that are well run, interested in the health of their people, and then there are some that hate your 'white guts' (if you are white(anglo)). I have been in places that appreciate help, and I have been in places that the natives would just as soon as stab you in the back, break into your housing and steal everything possible while you are at work- places where native nurses will tell any white nurses to their faces that they will run them off as soon as possible. There are hospitals with less than 40 beds that are using supplies of a 600 bed hospital, because the native staff is selling all the equipment right from the hospital as it comes in. I have seen violence within the tribes that is unimagineable. Of 10 of us that worked at the same site, there is nobody that lasted more than 5 years- none of us would ever consider going back (at least not to a particular res). We are all back in community hospitals/private hospitals/own our own business/. It was an eye opening experience. If you can do it for a few years, it is a good way to get your loans paid off. There are many public hospitals that will also pay off your loans also, so search. There are nurses who have stayed with IHS/BIA services for years- it depends on how your personality is. By the way- the care, treatment and the quality of the drugs, equipment available to this area is extremely good- the government gets the latest equipment available. Good luck.
  6. by   elkpark
    I had a friend a number of years ago (actually, a close friend of a man I'm no longer involved with) who married a woman who signed up with the IHS to pay off her med school loans and they moved out to an IHS medical center in AZ. She was very happy with her employment conditions there, and they both enjoyed living in the area so much that they have just stayed and are still there, even though she completed her original obligation many years ago.
  7. by   ilmbg
    There are some people who do stay. Not many, but if it fits your lifestlye, then all fine and good. I was only giving the experiences that we had. Thanks.
  8. by   Toogz
    You do not have to be Native American to work in IHS. Come to Pine Ridge IHS!! We desperately NEED more nurses!!
  9. by   Dempather
    Thank you for all the wonderful responses! Of course, these are things that I one day will pursue (and consulting you all further about!).
  10. by   cinja
    Does anyone know anything about the tribes in Northern Minnesota? Specifically, are non-native male nurses treated poorly?
  11. by   MoonChildRising
    Does anyone know of any Indian Reservations in San Diego, or Southern CA that is funded by the IHS or will repay tuition when working for a reservation in San Diego or Southern CA?
  12. by   ilmbg
    Go to USAJOBS.GOV That is the site for all gov jobs. If they still work the same (I have not worked for 9 years now), you have to already be through school, have 1 year experience in related field. Then, if hired by IHS, they will pay off the rest of your school loan if you sign a contract to work for them for 3 years. I believe it is still the same. There isn't a way to have them pay your schooling for BSN, while you are actually going to school. That is just too much financial risk. Right now it doesn't look like there is much in the way of available jobs with the gov- just like the rest of the US. Hope this helps.
  13. by   vetnrse
    the direct website to the IHS is It will list all the IHS hospitals and clinics in the country. I think theres a map too. Good luck.
  14. by   MoonChildRising
    Thank you both for your response. I appreciate it very much!