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Indian Health Service: The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives
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Dentist and Dental Hygienist Careers

IHS Division of Oral Health Newletter Volume 2 Issue 1


Externships are a great way to gain a unique professional experience as well as determine whether a career with The Indian Health Service Division of Oral Health is right for you!

Externships are best experienced between a student's 3rd and 4th year of dental school and the minimum length of an externship is one week. Right now is the best time for 3rd year students to apply to ensure the best possible match. There are two externship options to explore:

  • Detailed information on how to apply to the Externship Program
  • Detailed information on how to apply to the JRCOSTEP Program
    31 - 120 Days (31 Day Minimum)
    DEADLINE is December 31,2003

Read on and find out what two students say about their experiences.

Eric Lamont Mack
4th Year Dental Student
University of Texas, Houston, Dental Branch

Q: How did you find out about the IHS Externship Program?

Eric: Dr. Lozon came to our school to talk about the IHS Externship opportunities, including the Commissioned Corps JRCOSTEP program. I asked him what the best course of action would be for me to take and he described the process. I made sure to state on my application cover letter that I was interested in Alaska.

Q: What experience do you recall as most memorable?

Eric: I went to the village of St. Mary's for two weeks. It is located 150 miles north of Bethel. The scenery was wonderful! There was a full-time dentist there and a brand new clinic. I was able to do a lot of oral surgery under the dentist's supervision. I was also able to do different procedures that I wouldn't have been able to do in school. It enabled me to challenge myself to be a better clinician. The St. Mary's patients have limited opportunities to travel to Anchorage or Bethel to see a surgeon when, for instance, they have to have their wisdom teeth pulled. They rely so much on someone being there.

Q: Do you foresee a dental career with IHS?

Eric: I'm now enrolled in the Sr. Co-Step Program as a Commissioned Officer. IHS will pay for my senior year of school, my books, tuition and I will be paid as a 01 Officer during my senior year with full military benefits, full medical benefits, travel and vacation time. I didn't want to go just anywhere where I could just have an "any old day" type of experience. I wanted adventure, so I've signed a contract to go to Fairbanks, Alaska for two years.

For more information on the SRCOSTEP program click here!

Kevin Chin
4th year Dental Student
State University of New York (SUNY) - Buffalo Dental School

Q: How did you first get in touch with someone at the IHS Dental?

Kevin: I found Dr. Timothy Lozon's name on the website. I emailed him and he asked me to send a cover letter and resume. I was interested in working in the Navajo region, so Dr. Lozon had me forward my information to the IHS Regional Dental Director in that area, who provided me with a list of possible sites. I chose Shiprock, NM and they agreed to take me on.

Q: What was your first impression of the facility in Shiprock?

Kevin: I arrived there just this past summer and was very impressed. The facility has more up-to-date equipment than the institute where I practice now. I had heard people say that IHS usually operates out of portable trailers; that you have to bring your own portable hand pieces and stuff. But the Shiprock operatories are state-of-the-art. [Editor's Note: 90% of IHS facilities are similarly equipped.]

Q: I understand you had the opportunity to follow a particularly rewarding case.

Kevin: The first case I saw was probably the most worthwhile experience for me. I was assisting with a Le Fort I Osteotomy and a Mandibular Intraoral Vertical Oblique Osteotomy. Those are two major jaw surgeries to correct how the jaw comes together. I worked up the case with the oral surgeons. I saw the patient before surgery, I was allowed inside during the surgery, which took 4 ½ hours, and then followed up afterwards. I was able to see the patient a week after the surgery and again two weeks after the surgery. A few days before I left, I was able to see the progression and how the face structure looked totally different. The patient's feeling and speech were coming back and it was just so rewarding.

Q: Would you recommend an IHS externship to other students?

Kevin: I learned more stuff during the five weeks that I was there than I probably did during a semester in dental school. You have to be willing to learn. You have to be willing to go out and just do things. You can't just sit back and watch others. They really want you to dive in there. It's very hands on. These areas you go into are pretty remote but I enjoy hiking, mountain biking and camping. So in addition to the clinical experience, the area was perfect for me.

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:

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