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Indian Health Service
4341 Tudor Centre Drive
Anchorage, Alaska (United States)

Email: sstienbarger@scf.cc
Phone: 907-729-8533


Company Description:

Most Indian Health Service locations are on west of the Mississippi but there are a few in the East.  Most I.H.S. locations are either larger hospitals with multiple providers or smaller clinics with 1-2 providers.  The I.H.S. typically sees high numbers of patients every day with a large number of pathology cases daily.  Diabetes is prevalent.  Hypertension, CHD, cancer and multiple medical conditions are common.  You will see people of all ages.  Contact lenses are not done in all locations.  It is a highly dynamic place to work and very rewarding.  Some locations are fully staffed with great equipment but others need a little more updating.  Most of the optometrist know each other pretty well and we all are very supportive of each other.  We have an I.H.S. continuing education meeting every other year sponsored by Marshall Ketchum University in Fullerton, CA so we have a great way for meeting each other and really network.  The USPHS Commissioned Corps Optometrist have a great sense of  team work and I am very happy I could call most of them and ask questions, get second opinions, and get advice on many topics.  There are currently 31 open positions throughout the United States in the I.H.S.
You can work in the I.H.S. in several capacities. You could work as a civil service employee on a government pay scale.  You would get paid by the government and be held to their requirements.  You can check into the average GS levels in the different communities.  Each service unit really works alone for the building up of their GS levels so a few could have higher GS levels possible.  You could also work directly for the tribe in some areas and not be a government employee. Some service units prefer this over the GS employment option.  The third option is to join the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps(USPHS).  I have listed the contact information below for the application process.  The applications for Optometry are open full time now.  All of the contact information is below.  There are many benefits to being a commissioned corps officer.  You are military and get military benefits and payments.  You can also get loan repayment and then also get retention pay in the Corps.  That is an added pay benefit.  You can apply for the loan repayment in the civil service and tribal hire locations too.  Most people are getting loan repayment within the first 1-2 years of applying and it is for $20,000/year. They do not pay your taxes on this so you get about $17,000ish to pay down your loans.  The Corps applications are open enrollment every day now and are exempt to the hiring freeze.  The average time to commissioning is about one year so it does take some advance work.  Many optometrists that apply for the Corps find a position in the I.H.S. and start working as civil service and then eventually transition over to Corps. 
Most optometrist that are in the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) work in the Indian Health Service because most of us want to be clinical.  If you join the USPHS you could also decide to be nonclinical and work for the CDC, FDA, BOP, ICE, SAMSA, or other groups. We currently do have one optometrist in the FDA in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  She is not clinical and has been happily working there for over 15 years to my knowledge
Most jobs are advertised on usajob.com.  Look under Department of Health and Human Services and then under I.H.S. for all optometry openings.  There are about 31 openings in the I.H.S. currently so you have a lot of options.  When you find some locations that interest you give me a call and I can talk to you about each one. 

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