Nov 26, 2018
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What is it like to be a doctor in the IHS? I have read plenty about the frustrations military doctors go through (bureaucracy, poor leadership, lack of resources, etc.), but I couldn't find any IHS physicians' perspective. Do you have the support you need? Decent working conditions? A work-life balance? What's it like to be a non-American Indian or Alaska Native working with the population?

I'm a pre-med considering the USUHS route, any help would be greatly appreciated!
 

stillers

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Jul 6, 2005
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What is it like to be a doctor in the IHS? I have read plenty about the frustrations military doctors go through (bureaucracy, poor leadership, lack of resources, etc.), but I couldn't find any IHS physicians' perspective. Do you have the support you need? Decent working conditions? A work-life balance? What's it like to be a non-American Indian or Alaska Native working with the population?

I'm a pre-med considering the USUHS route, any help would be greatly appreciated!
I previously posted this in another thread. I worked for the IHS in the southwest for 4 years before becoming a pulm-CCM doc. Here are my thoughts:

Pros:
Job was amazing. Extremely rewarding, appreciative patients. Learned a ton. Practiced medicine in a pragmatic way and was able
to make a significant impact in the health of many people.
Lots of clinical responsibilities and as time went on took on administrative responsibilities
as well. Physicians had a lot of control over how the hospital was run. Extremely close-knit department, most of the physicians
lived on the same street a short walk from the hospital and socialized together. Kids played together.
Lots of time off - start with 30 days off per year and accumulate more - impossible to use it all and when you leave it is paid out to you.
Unlimited outdoor activities, conducive to a healthy lifestyle.

Cons:
Lots of call and potentially long hours. Worked anywhere from 50-80 hrs per week. Would take overnight call and work the entire next day (36 hrs straight), which was commonplace previously but is now becoming a thing of the past. Limited resources - had to manage many complex medical problems without subspecialty assistance - tough at first but became easier and one of the appealing aspects of the job as time went on. Salary not so great but still more than enough.


Note that I worked at a hospital where call/ICU level care was required. You could take an outpatient only job and have significantly
better hours (40-50 a week and no call)
As far as your last question, I found Native people to be very friendly and welcoming, especially as you got to know them better. They really
don't care what your background is as long as you care about them. However without a big medical community it could easy to feel isolated, especially in a remote area.
 
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petegriffin

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Oct 14, 2013
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It was nice. I worked ER. The quality of facilities vary. Some of the tribal hospitals are better than private. The coverage was fantastic, about 1-2 pts/hr, didn't feel like I was getting killed per shift. The disadvantage is that they tend to be in very remote locations and can be a terrible commute
 

Relentlessrook18

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Nov 2, 2015
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IHS gives you loan repayment of 40k every 2 years right? And is your pay based off of salary or production? Is the salary competitive with the region you are working in?