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IHS Extern Program Provides Invaluable Experience

by Robert E. Pittman, Acting Director, Scholarship Program and Director, Division of Health Professions Support

The IHS Extern Program application cycle opened December 1, 2015 and the deadline for applications is Friday, January 15, 2016. The Indian Health Service Scholarship Program provides qualified American Indian and Alaska Native health professions students an opportunity to establish an educational foundation for each stage of their pre-professional careers. Since the program began, IHS has provided nearly 7,000 American Indian and Alaska Native students with scholarship awards.

Under the Scholarship umbrella, you'll also find the IHS Extern Program, which paves the way for IHS scholarship recipients and other eligible health profession students to add practical experience to their skillsets. As a participant in the IHS Extern Program, health profession students can gain a wealth of valuable clinical hours and on-the-job insight while working alongside a team of practicing clinicians. This practical, pre-professional experience helps to ease the transition into clinical practice and is a great way to establish relationships with future colleagues and networks when pursuing an Indian health career.

An IHS externship also opens doors to the culture and traditions of the American Indian and Alaska Native communities you will serve. An externship is the type of experience no classroom can provide and it will be invaluable in your Indian health journey.

In fiscal year 2015, 124 students participated in the IHS Extern Program. During the program, externs are employed for 30 to 120 workdays per calendar year during non-academic periods. Externs receive a salary based on experience and years of academic training that is comparable to industry standards. IHS will waive the salary if the externship fulfills a required academic field placement or an internship, in which case it will instead pay all required tuition, fees and a regular monthly stipend (scholarship students only). The program also covers the cost of one round-trip ticket to the externship site.

Eligibility and Priority for Selection

To apply for an IHS Externship, you must be:

Funding for the IHS Extern Program is limited and selections are based on the needs of the Indian health program:

  • Health professions scholarship recipients.
  • Health professions students (non-recipients) who are American Indian or Alaska Native.
  • Non-American Indian/Alaska Native health professions students (non-recipients).
  • Preparatory or pre-graduate scholarship recipients.

How to Apply
All applicants, including those considering the USPHS Commissioned Corps' JRCOSTEP program, must apply through USAJOBS Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving . Applicants should search "student extern" jobs or use the job series and grade "GS-0699."

Dental Externships
The IHS Division of Oral Health offers two-week Dental Externships from May 1 - September 30. To learn more, visit Dental Externships.

Program Materials and Contact
For more detailed information, please see the IHS Extern Program page.

Robert E. Pittman is a member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe and is the Acting Director for the IHS Scholarship Program and the Director of the Division of Health Professions Support in the Office of Human Resources. The Office of Human Resources is responsible for the coordination of recruitment and retention for the Indian Health Service.

Robert E. Pittman, Acting Director, Scholarship Program and Director, Division of Health Professions Support