U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Indian Health Service: The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives
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Dentist and Dental Hygienist Careers

Imagine Your Ideal Career

Everything you want to know about working
for the IHS Division of Oral Health is on
our new Web site, www.dentist.ihs.gov.

Recruiting Events
Want to know when a recruiter from IHS will be visiting your school? Check out the Recruiting Events page on the IHS Division of Oral Health Web site. The list is updated frequently, so check back often!

The Truth About The Indian Health Service

Tim Lozon, DDS, Deputy Director, Division of Oral Health spends much of his time visiting colleges and universities across the U.S. in search of qualified and dedicated students to work for the Indian Health Service (IHS). Time and time again students ask the same questions, based on inaccurate information, about working for IHS. So Dr. Lozon took time to dispel some of the myths.

Myth #1: I have to wear a uniform.

IHS is an agency that falls under the Department of Health and Human Services. One of the personnel systems that the IHS hires from is the Commission Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service. So, if you decide that you want to be a commissioned officer you will wear a uniform similar in looks to the Navy uniform. If you don't want to wear a uniform there are two career path options: Civil Service, which is also a federal position; or you can work directly for a Tribe.

Myth #2: I have to go to boot camp.

Not in the traditional sense. For entry–level Commission Corps personnel, there is a Basic Officers Training Course (BOTC) held in Rockville, Maryland. The BOTC course provides useful information such as who and when to salute when on a military base and information about how to access your benefits. After the 5–day training and the follow–up online modules are completed, the new officer will receive a training ribbon to be worn with pride on your U.S. PHS uniform.

Over the next several months, a new initiative of the Commission Corps is to build a larger, more flexible group to respond to public health and emergency needs. This may alter some of the requirements of the training of Commission Corps personnel. Visit www.usphs.gov for more information.

Myth #3: The facilities and equipment are old and outdated.

All of the equipment is up–to–date. For example, Fort Defiance opened it's new facility August 1st of 2002. It is a twenty–four chair clinic with state-of-the-art equipment including digital x–rays. There is even a workout facility just for the staff! On the other hand, we also have some sites that are in remote areas that are in double–wide trailers. But even in these more remote locations, all of the equipment is top-notch; they are just waiting for Congress to approve funding to build a fixed facility.

Myth #4: I don't get to choose where I get to work.

Currently, the answer is, "a site chooses you and you choose a site." We're looking for a good match right from the get-go. So, we want you to know what the site is all about. We need you everywhere and make our best attempts to match you with one of your top choices.

Myth #5: I have to live in government housing.

As a Commission Corps officer, the Basic Housing Allowance affords you the opportunity to choose your own housing option. But, in a remote area, your only option may be the government housing available on a reservation. Civil Service also has the option to live in available government housing. In my experience, in my career, I have always lived off of the reservations and utilized my basic allowance for housing to pay my mortgage or my rent.

Myth #6: All of the facilities are in the middle of nowhere.

While it is true that most of our needs are at sites that are rural in nature, there are some opportunities for living in places near large or medium–sized cities such as Albuquerque, NM or Portland, OR.

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The Indian Health Service is looking for volunteers to spend a week or two helping facilities meet the needs of American Indians and Alaska Natives. Want to find out more about the volunteer program? Visit our Volunteers page.

Are you a dental student in your third year of study? Are you looking for a way to gain real–world experience and to explore a potential career path? IHS has Externships available for students! You should apply in the fall to participate during the summer between your 3rd and 4th year of study. IHS also has some money available to assist with travel costs for Externships. For more information about the program, and to learn how to apply, visit the Externship Program page.