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. As a commissioned officer, when I complete the residency, can I transfer to a different US Public Health Service Agency?

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?

It is advantageous for most selectees to choose the USPHS Commissioned Corps personnel system.

Commissioned Officer – qualified graduates with a Pharm.D. will be classified as an O2 or O3 rank in the USPHS Ready Reserve Corps. Prior COSTEP or military experience will contribute towards credited years of service (base pay). The Basic Housing Allowance (BAH) varies according to the geographic location of the residency site. A recent pharmacy graduate (Pharm.D.) with no prior COSTEP or military experience might expect to have a salary of approximately $60,000. Only base pay and specialty pay are taxable. Medical and dental coverage are included. For more information on pay and benefits, view the USPHS: Pharmacy's Best Kept Secret (PDF - 1.3MB) article.

An officer earns 30 days of annual leave per year and sick leave as needed. However, to meet the requirements of the residency training, the officers’ supervisor will determine the number of annual leave days that will be granted during the training year. The earned time does carry over to post-residency service.

The Chief Pharmacist or the Residency Program Director at each respective site can give you an estimate of the expected salary range. The Public Health Service determines your actual pay.

Civil Service – the residency training position is classified as a GS-9. An approximate salary for a GS-9, step 1 is $60,000, which is a special pay scale for pharmacists in the I.H.S. All pay is taxable. Employee payments and benefits for health insurance vary with the plan chosen. Benefits are provided to employees on a cost-sharing basis. A civil servant earns 13 working days of annual leave per year and accrues sick leave.

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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) and if they are approved to transition to the Regular Corps Officer post-residency.

Yes. If the pharmacy resident, within 60 days of being called to active duty, signs a contract with the PHS commissioned corps 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 Corps Officers must be willing to transfer to other IHS practice sites post-residency. There is no requirement for Civil Servants to transfer and continue service.

After completing the residency, the Indian Health Service encourages residents to work for two years as a staff 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 receive loan repayment until they officially complete their residency training.

15. As a Commissioned Officer, when I complete the residency, can I transfer to a different US Public Health Service Agency?

A permanent change of station (PCS) between agencies will not be considered until completing a two-year tour of duty with the Indian Health Service. In general, officers are expected to remain at each duty station for at least 2 years. Residency is an exception, as you may not be able to remain at your residency location beyond the end of the one-year residency program, meaning that a PCS transfer to a different I.H.S. location, then serving 2 years at that location, would be required prior to requesting a PCS to another agency (ex. BOP, FDA, etc.).

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