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Dentist and Dental Hygienist Careers

IHS Division of Oral Health Newletter Volume 3 Issue 1


Externships with the IHS Division of Oral Health provide a unique opportunity to gain professional experience as well as to determine whether a career with IHS or a position at a specific IHS or Tribal site is right for you! This past summer, 80 dental students discovered that an IHS Externship was everything — and more — than
they expected.

Here's what three students had to say about their Externship:

Eric Steinbicker
UNC School of Dentistry at Chapel Hill
IHS Extern at Browning, Montana

Joe Stalmaster
Oregon Health Science
IHS Extern at Browning, Montana

Katie Byun
University of Michigan,
School of Dentistry, Ann Arbor
IHS Extern at Swinomish/Upper Skagit, Washington

Q: How would you describe the IHS clinical staff?

Eric: They were outstanding and you can sense a spirit of adventure in all of them. They have a big job to tackle but they all have a real passion for taking care of the kids and the people of the community. They're definitely special - it takes a unique individual to have a job out there and I have a lot of respect for them.

Joe: There were three dentists, a pediatric dentist, and the chief dental officer in the clinic and most of them are young, out of school for maybe two to three years. They certainly could relate to my situation as a student and were very open and encouraging, especially about making the transition from school to where they are in their careers.

Q: Did you find the clinical experience valuable?

Joe: The clinical experience was great. The staff let us communicate with the patients, determine their chief complaint and make a treatment plan. We'd run the plan by the dentist or the dental officer then start on what needed to be done and usually execute it within the same appointment. For many of the cases we did the whole procedure and, if we needed help, it was right there for us. In that one week, we probably did three times as much as we would have done in school.

Katie: In school, I primarily see adult patients and rarely see minors. During the externship, we saw a range of patients - the youngest was two or three years old to older patients in their 70s or 80s. We had emergency walk-ins everyday from 8 to 9, mainly patients with pain so we did extractions, pallative treatment and fillings. It was very challenging especially working with the younger patients because you have to work fast, but it was good experience.

Q: Did the facilities meet your expectations?

Eric: The IHS facilities are great, I'd say as good as or better than what we have at school. There is a large hospital and the dental facilities are linked to the hospital. Everything is state-of-the-art, especially the dental clinic. It has 30 chairs and an OR for pediatric dentistry. It was exceptional.

Katie: My externship was at the Swinomish clinic near La Conner, Washington, a very small city about 80 miles north of Seattle. I was expecting a very busy public clinic with equipment that wasn't up to date. But the clinic was very modern with a great staff and I really enjoyed working there.

Q: What did you do during your free time?

Eric: We worked from 8 to 4 and because it stayed light until 10:00 we had about 6 hours of free time. Everyday after work we hiked or went fishing. On one of the hikes we went up a couple thousand feet in elevation and the wind was blowing around 40 miles per hour. It was foggy and the visibility was like less than ten feet in front of us - there was a chance we could have gotten blown off the cliff! It was pretty amazing!

Joe: We certainly took to the outdoors and everyday around 4:30 we'd head up into the park to hike or fish. One of the docs had a canoe and we went across a large lake to where the stream came into the lake and caught a bunch of Brookies.

Q: Did the Externship meet your expectation?

Katie: I'm from California and wanted to travel and work at the same time. Dr. Daily told me that August was the best month to go to Washington and it was gorgeous. Every day was sunny and green with snow peaked mountains in the backdrop. It was a great experience because I got to do some dentistry and at the same time had an opportunity to travel. I loved it!

Eric: The externship was probably one the best experiences of my life. It was a good fit for me and I'm seriously considering Indian Health Service. I know a doctor who is retiring in a couple of years and it'd be perfect for me if I could get in.

An Externship with IHS offers Opportunity, Adventure, and Purpose

Externship - Dental students should plan an externship between their 3rd and 4th year of dental school for a minimum of 2 weeks. Travel expense assistance is available for IHS Externships. Links for additional information are listed below.

JRCOSTEP- Students with 31 consecutive days available can gain valuable professional experience with the Public Health Service early in their education. Jr COSTEP externs can serve in assignments throughout the country during their official school breaks for periods from 31 to 120 days.

Apply now to ensure the best possible match!

For complete application instructions and travel assistance information for
Externship or JRCOSTEP placement, click on:
Job Opportunities: Externship

If you want to request additional information about the Externship or JRCOSTEP program, go to
Full Time Opportunities and Externship

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