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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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. How do I apply for an IHS residency?
  2. Will I be notified when my application is complete?
  3. If I was a Junior COSTEP, do I still need to complete the entire residency application, including the PHS-50?
  4. I have a SRCOSTEP obligation after graduating. Can I do a residency before I finish my obligation?
  5. How do I schedule a site visit?
  6. Does Indian Preference apply to the residency training program?
  7. When will the selection process for IHS residencies occur?
  8. What are the requirements to be a commissioned corps officer in the US Public Health Service?
  9. What salary can an IHS resident expect?
  10. Are IHS Residents eligible for loan repayment?
  11. Will IHS residents who are commissioned officers be eligible for Pharmacist Variable Special Pay?
  12. Will IHS residents who are Commissioned officers be eligible for the Accession Bonus?
  13. If I am not selected for an IHS residency and I've applied to the Commissioned Corps, do I have an obligation to the Indian Health Service?
  14. What is the resident's obligation after completing an IHS residency?
  15. Are Indian Health Service Scholarship recipients ("437 Scholars") eligible for IHS residency consideration?

1. How do I apply for an IHS residency?

Instructions for applying can be found HERE.

2. Will I be notified when my application is complete?

You can use the application manager feature in USAJobs to track your on-line progress to a complete application package. For the hardcopy documents, you can contact the person to which it was sent (i.e. CDR Rebecca Reyes for references receipt, or the Residency Program Director at individual sites for emailed documents, etc.) You are responsible for making sure all materials are complete/received by the deadlines. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.

3. If I was a Junior COSTEP, do I still need to complete the entire residency application, including the PHS-50?

Yes, a new PHS-50 needs to be completed. This application would become available to you if selected for residency.

4. I have a SRCOSTEP obligation after graduating. Can I do a residency before I finish my obligation?

SRCOSTEPs must serve their obligation before starting a residency.

5. How do I schedule a site visit?

Contact the Residency Director or Chief Pharmacist at the site you are interested in visiting. The Indian Health Service Residency Programs will also be represented at the ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting, Residency Showcase in December.

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6. Does Indian Preference apply to the residency training program?

Yes, provided a valid BIA Form 4432 has been submitted with the application, and the candidate is from a Federally-recognized tribe.

7. When will the selection process for IHS residencies occur?

IHS residency sites are NOT part of the ASHP Match. The applicant selection will occur in February each year, before the ASHP Match deadline, which is typically in March annually.

8. What are the requirements to be a Commissioned Corps Officer in the US Public Health Service?

There are stringent requirements to be a commissioned officer including US citizenship, age, height-weight, suitability, and medical standards. To see a description of requirements for Commissioned Corps pharmacists, please visit the Commissioned Corps web site. Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov A list of initial pre-screening criteria (Word - 18K) can help you determine if you should apply.

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9. What salary can an IHS resident expect?

There are several employment systems to choose from at most IHS sites: direct tribal hire, Federal Civil Service, or USPHS Commissioned Corps. The Chief Pharmacist or the Residency Program Director at each respective site can give you an estimate of the expected salary range. For more information about some of these systems, check out USPHS.gov Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov and IHS Pharmacy Program.

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10. Are IHS Residents eligible for loan repayment?

IHS Residents are not eligible for loan repayment until they officially complete their residency training.
The chance of being accepted into the loan repayment program is dependent on specific site rankings on the Loan Repayment Priority List, the amount of money appropriated by Congress each year, and the number of applicants who apply. The list is available on the IHS Pharmacy Intranet.

11. Will IHS residents who are Commissioned Officers be eligible for Pharmacist Variable Special Pay?

Yes. A Commissioned Corps pharmacist officer could expect variable special pay of $15,000 annually (divided into monthly installments).

12. Will IHS residents who are Commissioned Officers be eligible for the Accession Bonus?

No, however they will be eligible for the Accession Bonus once they complete the program limited tour (residency year), if they secure a post-residency USPHS job within the allotted time frame, and if they are approved to transition to the Regular Corps post-residency. If the pharmacy resident, within 60 days of being called to active duty into the Regular Corps, signs a contract with the USPHS for four years, he/she will receive $30,000 as a lump sum payment within 90 days of submitting the approved contract.

IHS Scholarship recipients are not eligible for the Commissioned Corps Pharmacist Accession Bonus. Commissioned Corps Personnel Manual - Part 4 - Regulations (PDF).

13. If I am not selected for an IHS residency and I’ve applied to the Commissioned Corps, do I have an obligation to the Indian Health Service?

No. If not selected, you may withdraw your application without any further obligation.

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14. What is the resident’s obligation after completing an IHS residency?

Residents who serve as USPHS Corps Officers must be willing to transfer to other IHS practice sites post-residency. The intent of residency training in this system is to produce highly skilled pharmacists who are willing to serve in high-need locations to share their knowledge and skills for the benefit of IHS patients. There is no requirement for Civil Servants to transfer and continue service. USPHS Commissioned Officer (CO) residents are Reserve Corps officers and thus must successfully complete residency training and secure a post-residency position within the allotted time frame to be considered for continued service in the Corps. It is not guaranteed that a resident CO will be approved for the USPHS Regular Corps post-residency, even if they secure continued IHS employment.

After completing the residency, the Indian Health Service highly encourages residents to work for two years as a pharmacist at an Indian Health Service or tribal facility. Residency graduates have found this an invaluable experience for enhancing their experiential and cultural knowledge. IHS Residents are not eligible to apply for loan repayment until they officially complete their residency training.

15. Are Indian Health Service Scholarship recipients ("437 Scholars") eligible for IHS residency consideration?

Recipients of the Federal Indian Health Service Scholarship may now consider application to the IHS pharmacy residency programs. The scholarship recipient must request a one year deferment from the Scholarship Program Branch by submitting a Notification of Deferment Program Form, and follow all rules/regulations regarding fulfillment of scholarship service obligation post-residency, if the deferment is approved. Residency service time will not count towards the contractual service obligation. Residents may also be subject to directed assignment post-residency, based on the IHS program priorities at that time.

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