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I want to make a difference - Is Indian Health Services the answer?

Nurse Beth   (2,852 Views 8 Comments)
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Advice Column) Writer Innovator Expert

Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho.

15 Followers; 89 Articles; 228,612 Profile Views; 1,852 Posts

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Dear Nurse Beth,

I have been following the site for a while, but my posts get no answers. So, I thought why not ask the Advisor. So, my most recent posts have been about applying to Indian Health Services (IHS), and they are as follows.

Have been thinking about IHS. What is that like?, is the salary competitive?, are the living conditions worth the while?, Please someone tell me is this truly an unforgettable experience? or is it just a way to get your loans paid off. The latter would be great but... I really want the opportunities to better myself as a nurse, as a person and be able to learn things that we would not be normally exposed to. It has been a dream for quite a long time, and something i am sure that I would cherish and be able to put to practical use but am I reaching?, What is it really like?

Hoping to hear from those of you who have chosen this path and found the truth to the real life experience.

So that everyone understands where I am coming from, it took a looong time to get through school, it took a looong time to pass the test...But. I DID. Regardless of how many times they tried to kick me out and throw me to the side with lame excuses.

 

I have been recently working as a post-acute care/ Rehabilitation Nurse in a SNF. But when I started this quest it was not where I thought I would end up. Although learning from LPNs with 10 times the experience and knowledge is not a bad thing, I just keep thinking that is just the beginning of my path.

 

I won't lie I am pretty old to be a brand new nurse (50) but unlike my fellow aged friends I plan to live to well past the average. and experiencing all that I can in my second Half century... the difference is That I really want to make a difference.

So if there is someone out there that is working in the IHS (remember I said this has always been on my heart to do) Please make it known to me that this is a path worth taking.

I have gotten several offers from recruiters but to be honest I have only been a Nurse for 6 mos. and at my age I am worried that I am not as desirable as the rest.


Dear Wants to Make a Difference,

Working as a nurse in a medically underserved area is not for everyone. It's for someone like yourself, who is looking for meaning, and would value and embrace another culture.

From an article posted by myself elsewhere:

The Indian Health Services (IHS) Loan Repayment Program (LRP) pays up to $40,000 to cover nursing school loans in exchange for a two-year service commitment at an approved Indian health facility, which includes working with American Indians and Alaska Natives.

The IHS LRP application cycle begins Oct. 1 and runs through the Friday of the second full week of August. Applications are evaluated monthly beginning in January, or as soon as funds become available. Information is available at Indian Health Services.

Everything in your letter says you'd be an ideal candidate. You do need to consider a career plan once your two year commitment is up. At that point, it may be harder to segue back into a traditional nursing job, but at the same time, you have one life to live and sometimes you just have to go for your dreams.

Best,

Nurse Beth

 

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hope3456 is a ASN, RN and specializes in LTC, Psych, M/S.

1,262 Posts; 20,170 Profile Views

I live near a Reservation. i have checked into IHS jobs and they seem to want RNs that have L/D experience. I applied with them and never heard back (i dont have l/d experience). There is also indian preference for those positions. I personally dont like working in rural areas and cant wait to leave.

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5 Posts; 388 Profile Views

Hi ,

You sound alot like me. I became an RN in my mid fourties. Now at 51 for the past 4 years I have worked as an emergency room nurse. My mantra since starting school as been. " why not me"? I just work hard and hustle. Anyway to anserw your question I work with a nurse that did that although she didnt have loans she needed the money. In any event she enjoyed it. She said the people were beautiful loving people and the culture was beautiful. She enjoyed every minute of it and is so glad she did it. Please let me know how you do. I say go for it. You sound like a determined person with a good attitude and at least you will never have regrets.

Mary

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riverotter has 23 years experience and specializes in Corrections.

22 Posts; 1,273 Profile Views

I have thought about what it might be like many times, though I own my home and am working toward a state pension, so I would not leave my job. I look forward to reading about people's experience in the IHS! But I work in a prison, which is another underserved population and very fulfilling for me.

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3 Posts; 480 Profile Views

I've worked as a RN with IHS for several years. At your age and I assume no experience living near an IHS facility do NOT go to a reservation hospital. Ship Rock, Rosebud, Fort Defiance are places where you work there if you grew up there or screwed up and got sent there. Check out Oklahoma hospitals only. They are far more mainstream. These hospitals are being compacted by the tribe all of the time and you may find yourself working for the tribe wich you do not want.

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3 Posts; 204 Profile Views

Hi, I have worked as an RN for IHS, & also for individual tribes who are managing their own health care.

Advice: 1) you need to have strong clinical skills, a year of inpatient med-surg would expose you to various diagnoses & skill sets that will be useful in the field. 2) you need to be extremely flexible. Native Americans do not want-need to be rescued by the people-systems-races that oppressed them. They do appreciate skilled individuals who are respectful of their sovereignty. 3) being creative in health care delivery is a HUGE gift. If you can devise ways to improve healthcare delivery, (ways that the Tribe approves of), & this measurably improves outcomes that is really making a difference. 😊💕

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3 Posts; 204 Profile Views

Hi, I have worked for IHS and various tribes who manage their own healthcare. I am concerned that you mentioned your difficulties in school. You must have strong clinical skills to work independently in remote areas. I had a year of med-surg, 2 years of maternity-newborn, & 1 year as a float nurse to specialty clunics BEFORE working on a reservation. You can get med-surg at the Phoenix Indian Medical Center. Then apply to work on a reservation. Community & public health is hugely helpful too.

1) Nat. Americas don't want-need to be rescued by the culture that oppresses them.

2) Skilled, respectful, flexible, creative individuals who are mentally & emotionally stable can be helpful in developing healthcare delivery that produces measurable improvements.

3) Intuition, compassion, patience & the ability to live as a racial minority-outsider & enjoy theremote outdoors is helpful.

Blessings on your journey!

The Public Health Service offers great deals too. They usually pay more than IHS.

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3 Posts; 204 Profile Views

Disagree. I also worked for IHS.

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