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Indian Health Service Advanced Practice Nurses


Hello All APRNs out there,

I recently signed up with a travelling/locum tenens agency and my first assignment will be in an IHS facility in Arizona. I was wondering if there are any advanced practice nurses that are working or have worked in an Indian Health Service (IHS) facility before. If so, did you like it? what were the pros and cons? Any advice and insights would be appreciated.




traumaRUs, MSN, APRN, CNS

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 27 years experience.

Hi Kate - what a great opportunity. I have not worked for IHS but many years ago worked with an Army Capt (RN) who got out of the Army and went to work for IHS. She loved it as she got her government benefits but didn't have to move as often.


Has 7 years experience.

Great question! I am a CRNA and considering going to the one of the sites. Would love to hear from any other APRNs who have worked for IHS.

honeykrown, MSN, NP

Specializes in family practice.

I currently work for an IHS facility in AZ, tribally owned. Worked here for 4 years. first as a nurse then a nurse practitioner. tribal centers are great to work for. The locums are mostly used for seeing walk ins rather than having their own patients. It can be tedious to learn the system as I believe all IHS use the old VA EHR. Overall I love what I do, most of the patients are grateful that we are there. The government run IHS are pretty similar also


Its so nice to hear from a Nurse Practitioner that works at an IHS facility. I am currently being credentialed for the IHS facility in Chinle, AZ. I was wondering what you like about working at an IHS facility as a NP? What don't you like? What are the challenges? I will start there next month once everything in credentialing is set. I am not from AZ, I am from TX and I have only 10 months of NP experience but have been a nurse for 6 years prior to becoming a FNP. I would really love to hear about your experiences.

honeykrown, MSN, NP

Specializes in family practice.

I work very close to the Chinle hospital. To be honest at this time I like what I do as my bosses are very understanding. We are tribal organization though. One thing about working IHS is things sometime run opposite to the real world. You get to refer most of these patients out, also can only refer out for certain conditions based on funding. The locums at our hospitals cant write a referral out but will have to ask us permanent staff to refer. Everything is done through the old VA EHR system. I dont like that pt's in the area tend to shop around for doctors. You will find patients that have been to the other 3 hospitals in the area to get treatment for the same illness. And you might get patients who speak Navajo. I dont know in what capacity you will be working since you will only be Locum but I Do like the layout of the Chinle facility. It's also in the middle of no where but they have a grocery store, burger king and gas station in town. The closest walmart or safeway is abt 2hrs from Chinle but they have a canyon close by that is a popular tourist spot. THE area is lovely, it's starting to get cold so bring a light sweater. It's monsoon season here


Thanks so much for the reply. I am actually running a flu clinic in Chinle, AZ and its satellite location (Pinon and Tsaile) and once everyone has their flu shots and all that taken care (around september- october) of I will be working more family medicine/primary care peds clinic towards end of november/december. From what I understand I will be travelling with nurses to these towns in a government vehicle. Any chance you know how the flu clinic runs in the surrounding area? Never ran a flu clinic before. However, it is something different. I currently work in a rural area...so I understand how patients like to shop around for providers. Does it snow/get very cold there during winter time? I am from south TX so it doesn't snow where I am at and it does not get as cold up north...i still wear flip flops/sandals in december time around here.

honeykrown, MSN, NP

Specializes in family practice.

it does get snow here but we are at such high elevation that it melts by afternoon (but it is still cold). I will bring a winter jacket but not like you need on the east coast. The weather has a mind of its own. It was really chilly out yesterday and so hot today. summer before last, the weather went as low as -19 degrees but by lunch time it was 45 degrees. The flu clinic at our hospital is run by the pharmacists with the help of PHNs(the nurses still give a couple). I think you will be utilizing the PHN, you might set up at the chapter house to give the shots. It will be so much fun, you get to see the community. really remote (I dont think people have seen remote till they get here). you will appreciate the small amenities more. Some patients live without electricity and water. it will be fun for you though