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Indian Health Service


I am graduating NP school in a year (specialty FNP) and want to work in community health & primary care. I live in the northeast right now but would love to move west for my first NP job. Has anyone worked for IHS right out of NP school? I'm having a hard time finding info on whether or not they hire new grads, and if the jobs are typically for outpatient or inpatient work. Specifically speaking I'd like to work in the southwest- AZ, UT, CO, or NM area.

You can find IHS positions at usajobs.gov

There are two different types of IHS hospitals/clinics. Federal and 638 (Tribal owned). The Tohono' o' dham tribe (south south AZ) is now 638. If you want a position the fastest way to start out is to go through a travel agency as a locum, or call the department head directly. Be careful on the rez. Don't leave compound after dark, and don't go exploring the southern desert. I have worked on a number of reservations and the TO has been my favorite by far.

BackInTheSaddle, BSN, RN

Has 37 years experience.

Thanks, NomadikNurse, for the insight into working IHS as a FNP. I am interested in working in AZ, NM, UT areas for IHS when I graduate this Summer. I look occasionally at the IHS website for current job openings and also read local newspapers if they are online or local news outlets to get a feel for the area. But, there's nothing like reading another nurse's real-life experience. 

The clinics can be different from place to place. 638 clinics are the easiest to hire on with. Federal applications and the federal hiring process can be slow. Federal is usually a better setting. Run with more oversight, funding, and benefits. If there is a certain place that you want to go it might be worth calling the Clinic Director and letting them know that you want to work there. Brace yourself for a ton of racism and entitlement. Indian reservations are racially separatist societies. They get a lot of glamour in Hollywood, but in real life there is a ton of nepotism and poor management. If that doesn't bother you, then you may love it. If you are young enough you could also look into joining the Commissioned Corps. They are under the DHHS. They have a pension and military benefits. Good luck.

Decent work. I have grown quite a bit working through that system. It can be tough. Also very rewarding. Best of luck

I am an Indian Health scholarship recipient and got my Adult Gero Acute care NP in exchange for a two years service obligation.  I’ve been looking for 8 months in the western US, esp in AZ, since I live here...with no luck.  It’s been a nightmare and if the scholar is unable to find work, they will come after you for three times what you borrowed plus 10% interest.  I thought it would be of great value to serve native populations and I anticipated many opportunities.  Not that way, at least for my speciality...they do want Family nurse practitioners, as a matter of fact White River is hiring at the GS-9 level, which is no experience needed.  Phoenix, on the other hand, wants at least a GS11-13....ouch! Of benefit, they do offer student loan repayment and I guess excellent retirement benefits.  But as a warning to NPs looking into the scholarship program, choose your speciality carefully!