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Looking for that rare opportunity? One with a sense of purpose? An adventurous, mobile lifestyle? If you imagine a career with all of this, plus excellent pay, a school loan repayment plan, job stability in modern facilities, the chance for advancement, and a challenging, appreciative patient population, the Indian Health Service (IHS) Division of Oral Health has a career for you. IHS employs dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants in over 230 hospitals and clinics in 35 states. Today, IHS and tribal programs serve more than 1.6 million American Indians and Alaska Natives.
Joining IHS can enrich your career and your life. Here's what doctors Dan and Kristi Newton, newlyweds and recent grads, have to say about their work and lifestyle as IHS dentists in Fort Defiance, Arizona.
Q: Why did you choose IHS?
Kristi Newton: I set some goals for myself during my second year of dental school, I set a goal of how much money I wanted to make, the kind of people that I wanted to be around, the kind of stress level that I wanted my first year out. There's an advantage being able to do this now, where there's no pressure.
Dan Newton: And clearly the loan repayment is a big factor. Average dental school debt is probably-I'm sure they say it's over $100,000-and that's about where we are, a little over $100,000 apiece, so the loan repayment where you each get a lump sum of, after taxes, around $20,000, that's a big deal.
Q: Do you provide specialty dental care in this assignment?
Kristi Newton: I just do general dentistry, but I try to do every single aspect of it. There's a need for everything here.
Q: Are you learning more there than you would, say, if you had gone into private practice?
Kristi Newton: I do think I'm doing more here than I would if I decided to go into a regular private practice. The instances of caries in young children are so much more here... so we're starting to learn how to think about prevention. We treat a number of baby bottle tooth decay cases, which is not too common in the general population.
Q: Is there anything that is unique about the equipment or facility there at Fort Defiance?
Dan Newton: We enjoy some very nice facilities. There's nothing that you can't do in comparision to any high tech private practice dentist.
Kristi Newton: To be able to have digital X-ray technology-- it's spoiled me.
Q: Do you see different kinds of patients?
Kristi Newton: There are a lot of children here, but there are an equal amount of elderly people here who need complete dentures, partials, or crown and bridge, I see an equal number of each age group.
Dan Newton: You deal with all patient types just like any society but I've noticed that they are very appreciative and that's very nice, you try to do the best thing you can for your patients...and it's nice when they appreciate it...that's pretty rewarding.
Q: How do you spend your free time?
Kristi Newton: Our free time, it's great. We have many ski trips planned in Colorado, which is just three hours away, just a hop, skip, and a jump and we're on the slopes. We go to Albuquerque quite a bit and we're going down to Phoenix in a couple weeks. We're trying to do and see as much as we possibly can while we're out here.
We couldn't be in a better situation right now. We're just real thankful for it.
Q: That speaks to the lifestyle that you've created for yourself by serving in IHS.
Dan Newton: I know it will be one of the better times of my life in terms of having the rewards that go along with the job and not having the certain pressures that go along with private practice, it's kind of the best of both worlds at this point in our careers.
Kristi Newton: That's one thing about looking at it as an adventure. We decided that if we didn't do this now, we would always regret it. [We're] serving a needy population and at the same time getting to see a part of the world that we never would have before.
A career with IHS can really take you places.
Wherever you are now in your professional life, IHS offers
exciting possibilities. To explore them for yourself and to request information,
visit the IHS Division of Oral Health Web site at www.dentist.ihs.gov. Or contact:
Timothy L. Lozon, DDS,