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Employment Policies

Woman nurse with patient while measuring blood pressure

Indian health professionals are required to follow program employment policies in order to successfully complete their service commitment.

Position Start Date

Your Indian health career must begin within 90 days of graduation or completion of your post-graduate clinical training.

Eligible Service Sites

You are eligible to fulfill your service commitment in one of the following Indian health programs:

  • IHS facility.
  • Tribal facility (contracted under the Indian Self-Determination Act [P.L. 93-638]).
  • Urban Indian program (assisted under Title V, Health Services for Urban Indians, of the IHCIA [P.L. 94-437]).
  • Private practice: For physicians, dentists and clinical psychologists can pursue private practice at a facility located in a designated Health Profession Shortage Area (HPSA) if no positions are available at an IHS, Tribal or Urban Indian program facility. At least 75 percent of the patient population you serve at the practice must be documented members or descendents of federally or state-recognized Tribes. Final approval of this option is at the discretion of the IHS Director. Visit the Health Resources and Services Administration Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  website for more information on HPSAs.

You cannot provide contract or locum tenens services to an IHS, Tribe or Tribal organization, Urban Indian program or through private practice as a means of fulfilling your IHS Scholarship Program service commitment.

Full-Time Clinical Practice

Full-time clinical practice is defined as working a minimum of 40 hours per week. The 40 hours cannot be worked in less than four days and no more than 12 hours of work can be performed in any 24-hour period. Time spent in on-call status will not count toward the 40 hours. Overtime cannot be applied to another workweek.

You must spend at least 32 hours per week providing direct inpatient or outpatient care. These services must be conducted during normally scheduled hospital or clinic hours. The remaining eight hours may be spent providing additional patient care and/or performing practice-related administrative activities, with administrative activities not to exceed 16 hours per two-week period


The Scholarship Program requires three letters if you wish to transfer service sites:

  • One from you stating why you would like to transfer.
  • One from your facility administration (HR, CEO, etc.) stating the impact of your transfer on the facility's day-to-day operations.
  • One from the prospective site, stating that it plans to hire you, the hire date, a position description and the impact of your transfer on the facility's day-to-day operations.

The IHS Scholarship Program Branch Chief will determine whether to approve your request.