Indian Health Services

  1. Hi. I'm new to this site, but I am a student nurse here in San Diego and am considering working for Indian Health Services. I am also considering working for the US Commissioned Corps and would like to know if anyone had any input on that. I would be starting right after graduation, so would my pay rates increase just like they would if I worked out of a government facility? Also any advice in working for IHS? I currently do volunteer work on the reservations and would like to help them further once I graduate. Any info would be helpful! Thanks:roll
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  2. 10 Comments

  3. by   brown rice
    Hello there sugarcrystal,
    I am sorry I don't have any information for you, instead I have questions. I am working as a C.N.A. doing hospice care and looking into how to afford nursing school as well as what my interests in nursing are. Today I visited a government health clinic to get a feel for community health nursing. I am interested in health education, natural therapy, cultural diversity issues. I am not sure what the US COmmissioned Corps is, but I am curious to hear about your experience working for the Indian Health Services. How did you get the job? what does it entail?
    One of my friends was telling me that one way to pay for college is to do a contract where you agree to do rural health care, work on a reservation or in a community health clinic for a given amount of time in exchange for tuition funds. Are you in a similar program. If you feel inclined I would love to hear about it. You can also just e-mail me directly. vip889@yahoo.com
    Good luck!
  4. by   Mattigan
    My best friend from school works IHS and has 1983. She worked in OK., CA.,Montanna, and now in Arizona at Tuba City. She realy likes it. She is Native American (Seminole/Choctaw) and has liked it except for Montana. She said she had some cutural differences with the Sioux and that part of Montana was too flat for her. She is in midwifery school now but plans to stay with IHS. She opted not to do Commission Corp. She said pay was better but placement not as flexible and really glad now that there is intent of war - CC goes active.

    She lives on Navaho rez now but after school goes to another.She would like to sty with Navaho.

    There was IHS facility here but now is run by Chickasaw Nation. So Commission Core and IHS people have moved on due to salary changes and such.

    Basically, I guess all I said was she likes IHS. Oh, and she did it by choice- no payback involved with her.
  5. by   spineCNOR
    Greetings,

    I have 6 years of experience in the Indian Health Service - Tuba City, Acoma and Fort Defiance. It has been a few years since I worked for the IHS.

    Overall, it was a great experience, I really enjoyed working with the Navajo and Hopi people. Since you have done volunteer work on reservations you would have more of an idea what to expect than the average American who has only seen Indians on TV.

    In the Commisioned Corps you would have all government benefits, which is a plus. There is funding for student nurses who want to work in the IHS, though I don't have the details on that.

    Things you need to be aware of--

    I don't know your home situation-some of the reservation facilities are in areas that are VERY isolated. If you are single this can be a significant issue, as living on a reservation can be lonely for outsiders. Some of the hospitals/clinics are anywhere from 1 to 4 hours away from the nearest city.

    On the other hand, if you enjoy outdoor activities- hiking, etc. many of these areas are great places to live. if you are young and are looking for an adventure, this could be just the job for you!

    Another thing--what sort of work situation are you looking for? Most IHS hospitals are very small, and do not offer ICU's, OR's, etc. To find more specialized units you would need to work in one of the city hospitals- Gallup, Phoenix or Anchoridge, AK.

    Good luck with your decision!
  6. by   cactus wren
    My daughter is working for IHS in NM, and she loves it. The bennes are good, they will pay off her student loans, I think they pay 1/2 after 1 year, and the other after 2.As it is a very rural place she has "government housind" that somewhay sucks, but she really just needs a place to sleep,as she goes home after her week is up. She works 7 on 7 off 12 hour shifts.I raised my kids in NM ,and that is home to her, have a Navajo dil, that helps my belagana( white woman) get along with her patients quite well.I think she started out as a g-8 or 9. She makes more money than I do, and I have been an ICU nurse for 15 years.
  7. by   emmylove
    Hey Sugarcrystal - I'm also a nursing student (in Ohio - I'd much rather be in San Diego), and new to this site. I am also looking to apply to the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps to work with the IHS. I have done some research on the pursuit of this career - but I still don't know a ton. I'll tell you what I do know (or at least what I was told) and hope I'm not telling you things you already know, but if I am I'm sorry. What I was told is that when you sign with the Commissioned Corps, the assignments are reasonably flexible. I was told, "if you don't want to go there, then you pick somewhere else" - but they need to have a position for you in that "somewhere else". I was also told that the Commissioned Corps is considered active duty at all times (except if you return to school, then you are considered to be in a training position). Therefore, in times of war - our jobs won't change. They will not up-root us from the far corners of Alaska, Arizona or Minnesota to aid in the latest Al-Qaida, Hamas or militant Iraqi bombing against our troops. Although, I don't know what would happen during war on American soil.

    The CC and the Armed forces are all considered Uniformed Services. The Armed Forces are for military service and the PHS-CC are responsible for serving "their country by controlling the spread of contagious diseases such as smallpox and yellow fever, conducting important biomedical research, regulating the food and drug supply, providing health care to underserved groups, supplying medical assistance in the aftermath of disasters, and in numerous other ways"(taken from The History of the Comissioned Corps @ www.usphs.gov). Therefore, as a commissioned officer of the PHS we would receive the same benefits as the military, without going into battle (or in our case, treating those who went to battle) because we are all covered under the "blanket" of the Uniformed Services. All of this information came from a Mr. Steven Hand at the Recruitment and Assignment Branch of the USPHS. The phone number is 301-594-3391. Also, I'm sure you may know this, but if you didn't...check out www.usphs.gov. There is actually a FAQ portion to the sight.

    I hope this helps. If you have any more questions - ask them! They are probably questions I hadn't thought to ask. Also, tell me what you know!!!
  8. by   suzanne4
    I actually used to work agency at the hospital in Tuba City, back in the days when there were only 6,000 people up there, a Kentucky Fried Chicken, the Tuba City Truck Stop, Dairy Queen, and the chinese restaurant owned by one of the doctors.

    I loved it. Great group of people. I would definitely consider going up there again if I was stateside. Only 45 minutes from the south rim of the Grand Canyon, middle of the Painted Desert..............what more can you ask for?
  9. by   renerian
    This topic is so fascinating. I wish some of these places were here in Ohio. Where is the closest place? Does anyone know?

    renerian
  10. by   2ndCareerRN
    www.ihs.gov

    Alot of jobs, in just about any region you would like. The IHS also takes care of the native Hawaiians. I don't know if there are ever any openings there though.

    bob
  11. by   Wolfpax
    Quote from renerian
    This topic is so fascinating. I wish some of these places were here in Ohio. Where is the closest place? Does anyone know?

    renerian
    There are reservations in upstate NY, Conneticut, (Iroquoi Nation, Pequot) one tiny one in NJ (Rancocas reservation, Pohatwan I don't even think I spelled that right)

    I was psyched out thinking I could get a job with BIA and settle in one of these places but when I submitted my application the only choice they gave me was S. Dakota and while I may be a rural kind of girl at heart, I'm not that rural.
  12. by   Cowboy Thug
    Quote from cactus wren
    My daughter is working for IHS in NM, and she loves it. The bennes are good, they will pay off her student loans, I think they pay 1/2 after 1 year, and the other after 2.As it is a very rural place she has "government housind" that somewhay sucks, but she really just needs a place to sleep,as she goes home after her week is up. She works 7 on 7 off 12 hour shifts.I raised my kids in NM ,and that is home to her, have a Navajo dil, that helps my belagana( white woman) get along with her patients quite well.I think she started out as a g-8 or 9. She makes more money than I do, and I have been an ICU nurse for 15 years.
    May I ask Catus Wren, is it common for the IHS to allow a 7 days on..7 days off schedule? May I also ask where that facilty where your daughter works at is located? I would personally message you but I can't seem to find out how to personally message. If you can personally message me for more privacy, that is fine as well. I wanted to apply to the IHS and would love to have that type of schedule so I can communte back home as your daughter does. I live about 3 hours away from a IHS unit in NM and 6 hours away from the Medical Center in Phoenix. I would prefer to work in Phoenix because it is a full blown Medical center and I'd like to work ICU or ED...but I did enjoy my community health rotation in the nursing program. My goal is to stay at the trauma hospital I am currently at (as a tech) for a year in the ICU once I graduate, then go into the IHS. I can easily be happy as a community nurse, but I'd like to start off in a critical care area and stay PRN. Your opinion would make my day since you are an ICU nurse. Thanks.

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