Indian Health Service Division of Oral Health offers opportunity, adventure, purpose, and loan repayment plan too!

Nov. 6, 2001
A generous Loan Repayment Program (LRP) is one of many reasons graduating students should consider a career with the Indian Health Service (IHS).

A generous Loan Repayment Program (LRP) is one of many reasons graduating students should consider a career with the Indian Health Service (IHS). In addition to the LRP, IHS offers a generous employment benefit package, cutting-edge work environments, the ability to live and work in some of the most beautiful areas of the country, and the opportunity to make a significant difference in the lives of American Indians and Alaska Nativesa patient population that suffers dental disease at much higher rates than the overall U.S. average. All this sets the stage for oral health professionals to create lives and careers filled with opportunity, adventure, and purpose.

To be eligible to apply for a Loan Repayment Program (LRP) Award, new hires agree to work for 2 years in full-time clinical practice at an IHS facility or in an approved Indian health program. Once the application process is successfully completed, the LRP repays allor a portion ofeligible health professional educational loans up to $20,000 per year. Individuals are eligible for amounts up to an additional $20,000 per year for each year of service until school loans are completely repaid. Because the awards are considered taxable income, an additional 20% of the net award is paid directly to the IRS. For example: a LRP award of $20,000 results in a net award of $20,000 to the employee and $4000 paid directly to the IRS.

IHS is the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Agency responsible for addressing the health needs of over 1.4 million American Indians and Alaska Natives. This task involves serving groups that span broad cultural, economic and geographic diversity. While some locations can be remote, employees enjoy a pleasant, modern work environment, equipped as well asand sometimes better thanprivate sector practices. In addition to clinical practice, many IHS dentists, hygienists, and assistants also participate in the development and implementation of community-based prevention programs on, or near, reservations.

IHS and Tribally managed dental programs offer opportunity in over 230 hospitals and clinics in 35 States. The 1800-plus dentists, hygienists, and assistants work in programs that strive to prevent as much dental disease as possible through organized prevention programs, while limiting existing disease through active clinical programs. In addition to those in search of opportunity, IHS is looking for dentists and hygienists who will enjoy the adventure of living and working in a wide range of geographic locations, (the Federal personnel system removes many of the mobility barriers imposed by state licensing requirements), as well as those who demand a career with the sense of purpose gained by serving a population that suffers dental disease at rates several times higher than the overall U.S. population.

IHS dentists and hygienists have two employment path options: they may work as Federal employees, or be employed directly by a Tribe. The Federal path offers two options: serving as a Commissioned Officer in the U.S. Public Health Service or as an IHS Civil Service employee.

While it is not a branch of the military, the Commissioned Corps of the USPHS is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States Government and its employees enjoy benefits similar to those in the military, including standby travel status on military flights and a tax-free housing allowance. They also receive 30 days paid vacation, 10 paid Federal holidays, 5 paid days of continuing dental education, and may take sick leave as needed. Comprehensive health care for employees and their families is provided, they are covered by malpractice insurance at no cost to the employee, and they benefit from both non-contributory and contributory retirement plans. Dentists who agree to serve at least 4 years are eligible for a $30,000 sign-up bonus.

Those who choose IHS Civil Service receive 13 days paid vacation per year to start and may take 13 sick days annually with pay. Other benefits include a comprehensive contributory retirement program, a choice of medical and dental plans which are available on a cost-sharing basis and malpractice insurance coverage at no cost to the employee. Civil Service employees are also eligible for bonus pay when working at selected remote sites.

Benefits for those who work directly for a Tribe vary depending on the Tribe and position.

Oral Health Professionals in search of a career with Opportunity, Adventure, and Purpose will find IHS a good match. Dentists, hygienists, and assistants interested in a career with IHS, as well as those who would like to invite an IHS recruiting specialist to speak to a group or organization, should contact Timothy L. Lozon, DDS, at 1-800-IHS-DENT (1-800-447-3368); e-mail: [email protected]. For general information, visit