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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IHS Retention: People Smart

Share Your Stories

If you have had success retaining health professionals, sharing your story among leadership can help to create and maintain a winning retention effort throughout IHS. Become a contributor. Send your own success stories to help the retention effort grow across the Indian health community.

Commissioned Corps Clinicians


Clinician working at his desk

Best Practices

IHS Doctors talk in hallway

A fundamental cultural change to a pro-retention environment is essential to the overall success of the IHS mission. It is not feasible to expect recruitment alone to deal with staff turnover. Leadership must look carefully at the reasons people leave and recognize that some issues, such as family circumstances, cannot be changed.

However, facilities with good retention rates demonstrate that the atmosphere of the facility itself plays a big factor in achieving success. An environment that creates a sense of belonging will motivate employees to stay. Facilities throughout the Indian health system have worked hard to welcome health care professionals by extending a friendly hand to show their appreciation and by teaching providers about the culture and traditions of the Tribes they serve. These efforts are a critical component to the success of our retention efforts.

PeopleSmart has developed a retention best practices guide "It's the People You Hire and Keep" [PDF - 902KB] for our Area and service unit managers. This guide outlines retention best practices in the areas of recruitment, leadership, communication, shared management, professional development and government relations.

The guide also contains a forum where you and others involved in the retention of health professionals can discuss issues and share ideas of what is working in other IHS Areas.

A Personal Touch

BEST PRACTICE, FROM:
CDR George Ceremuga
Clinical Director
Northern Cheyenne Service Union
Lame Deer, MT
george.ceremuga@ihs.gov
(406) 477-4468

"We work closely with the Billings Area recruiting specialist. A welcome letter is sent to any provider candidate highlighting the service unit and the community. I personally call and email the provider and, if the provider shows a sincere interest, a site visit is scheduled. A full day is dedicated to meeting the staff and touring the facility. There's also a luncheon and a tour of the community. We then make a follow-up phone call and send an email as well as a card to thank the provider for his interest. This sequence was particularly successful in recruiting a physician over the last few months."
CDR George Ceremuga