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Tim Lozon, DDS, Deputy Director, Division of Oral Health travels extensively throughout the country meeting with dental students making them aware of the career options available with the Indian Health Service (IHS). Over the last few years, Dr. Lozon has participated in numerous Lunch & Learn presentations, answering students’ questions about working for IHS, the Externship program and IHS career options and opportunities. As you start back to school this fall, here are some hot topics complied from Dr. Lozon’s Q&A sessions!
Q: Tell us your title and a little bit about your background
Lozon: I am the Deputy Director of Human Resources for the Indian Health Service Division of Oral Health (DOH) and a Captain in the Commissioned Corps of the US Public Health Service (USPHS). I’ve been with IHS as a commissioned officer for 19 years.
My first assignment in the field was in Pawnee, Oklahoma for 2 years and then I practiced with the Seminole Tribe of Florida as their Chief Dentist for 7 years and the Clinical Director of their Health Department for 5 years. I’ve been in IHS headquarters as Deputy Director of Human Resources for DOH for the past 5 years.
TIPS and answers to questions that you won’t find on the web site!
Q: As a student, where can I learn more about IHS?
Lozon: www.dentist.ihs.gov is up-to-date with all the latest information about vacancies, benefits, how to apply, and the schedule of when we might be presenting at your school or one close by! If you don’t see your school on the schedule, please contact me [Timothy.Lozon@mail.ihs.gov] and we will do our best to schedule a speaker for your school. We also participate in American Student Dental Association events.
Q: What personal satisfaction do you receive from working with IHS?
The Indian Health Service gives you a venue to apply what you’ve learned and get the job satisfaction out of it because you're working with an underserved population with a lot of dental needs. It’s the best thing for somebody who’s looking to expand their skill base. If dentistry is something that you love, then you’re going to get real satisfaction here.
Q: What can you tell me about the state of the IHS Dental practice? Do they keep current with technology?
Yes, we absolutely do. A common question I get from dental students is will I be able to maintain my specialty skills coming to work in a public health dentistry setting? My answer to them is that you are going to get very good with your hands. You’ll find that since the population we serve has so many dental needs, your learning curve is going to grow exponentially. Our facilities do have state-of-the-art equipment. A few examples are fiber optic handpieces and some of our newer facilities coming online are using digital x-rays, so I think that many folks will be pleasantly surprised.
We have about 230 hospitals and clinics throughout the nation. Of those, about 49 of them are hospitals so there’s also the opportunity to work in a multi-disciplinary atmosphere and have direct access to pharmacists and physicians, for example. It’s much different than private practice.
Q: On your web site’s vacancy list, what does the green dollar sign symbolize next to the vacancy?
Lozon: It is a supplemental loan repayment program (SLRP) which means there is guaranteed loan repayment, for a two-year agreement, if you are offered a job at that specific site.
Q: How can I put myself in the best position to get in the IHS program?
Q: What is the best way to contact you?
If you want to receive a packet of additional information, the best place to do that is at our website by clicking on the left side at “Full Time Opportunities and Externships”. After completing the online form, our mailroom will send a packet of information including a map of the Indian Health Service, and a video.
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Externships that IHS offers
Q: Does IHS offer externships?
Lozon: Yes, we sure do! The best time to do an externship is between the third and fourth year of dental school because at that point students have had some clinical experience. Students interested in an externship should apply during the fall of their third year
We offer two types of externships. Junior COSTEP is a paid externship that’s through the Commission Corps of the USPHS and requires you to be available for a minimum of 31 consecutive calendar days.
For those that are not available for at least 31 days, we have “other” opportunities. To apply for a minimum 2 week externship the deadline is February 28th. So we encourage students to apply early in the fall so that we can start marketing their availability for an externship. Specific IHS sites will contact them directly.
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How do I apply for the externship?
Q: Where can I find out more? And how do I apply?
Step 1 through 4 is for everybody to fill out, steps 5 and 6 are for those who have at least 31 days and want to apply for a Junior COSTEP opportunity.
In Step 1, there is a hyper link that opens up to list all of the sites that placed dental students at the previous year. It has the preceptor’s name, the duty station name and the preceptor’s email address. Feel free to email that preceptor to ask specific questions like: What’s the patient load at this site? Is there housing available? Or other questions that are specific just to that site. The sites that are listed on that hyper link are prime sites to go to because they have enough space to accommodate an extern, and the staff that’s willing to share their valuable experiences with a student. So every site that’s listed has experience in accepting externs.
Q: How many were available last year, and how many students applied for those?
Lozon: Each year I try and get more sites to participate and have been successful with that. This summer we had 120 applicants and I was able to place 100 of them. Of those 100, 11 were Junior COSTEP
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Point of Contact: Timothy L. Lozon, DDS
1-800-IHS-DENT (447-3368) or 301-443-0029 (direct)