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Indian Health Service The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives

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IHS Extern Program

Woman student working on the computer.

Become an IHS Extern

The Indian Health Service (IHS) offers scholarship recipients, as well as other health profession students, the opportunity to participate in a hands-on instructive experience that will complement the knowledge and skills developed in school. This experience will help to enhance pre-professional training, while also familiarizing yourself with Native communities that are of interest to you when you begin your health professions career.

IHS externs are employed for 30 to 120 workdays per calendar year during non-academic periods.

Externship Opportunities

The externship application cycle is closed. Please return in the fall for information on 2018 externship opportunities.

Eligibility to Apply

IHS externships are available to students who are:

Priorities for Selection

Funding for the IHS Extern Program is limited and selections are based on the needs of the Indian health program. Below is a priority listing of those eligible (including USPHS JRCOSTEP participants) for the IHS Extern 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

Applications must be submitted through USAJOBS. The online system provides a detailed overview including:

  • Job Overview.
  • Job Requirements.
  • What to Expect.
  • How to Apply.
  • Required Documents.


Externs receive a salary based on experience and years of academic training that is comparable to industry standards. IHS will waive your salary if the externship fulfills a required academic field placement or an internship, in which case it will instead pay all required tuition and fees (scholarship students only).


You must submit a Request for Extern Travel Reimbursement (IHS-856-18) [PDF - 37 KB] form to request reimbursement for one round trip to the externship site before you plan any travel. IHS authorizes travel reimbursement based on federal regulations for travel and transportation allowances. If a travel advance is required, contact your Area Scholarship Coordinator and the IHS Area office, Service Unit or health clinic where you are assigned.

Do not, under any circumstances, travel without authorized travel orders.


You are responsible for finding your own housing. Your Area Scholarship Coordinator or the local site can provide that information to you. Please stay in contact with your Area Scholarship Coordinator and Extern Coordinator to verify all of your arrangements before traveling to the externship site.