IHS Partners with Universities to Train Pharmacy Students

The Indian Health Service (IHS) announced new Collaborative Agreements between the agency and three top American universities: Howard University, Purdue University and the University of Southern California, to participate in the IHS Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience Program. This Program provides opportunities for pharmacy students to gain clinical experience at IHS facilities and it also serves to recruit future health care professionals to work in rural areas, specifically in Indian Country.

"Through the IHS Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience Program, we develop meaningful partnerships with top universities that train the next generation of health care professionals, while providing opportunities for students to gain practical hands-on experience," said Mary L. Smith, IHS Principal Deputy Director. "Upon completion, many return to start their career in providing quality health care to the American Indian and Alaska Native community."

"My experience with IHS as a student inspired me to apply to work here when I graduated," Fengyee Zhou, a recent IHS externship participant, now a pharmacist at the IHS Whiteriver Indian Hospital. "The level of teamwork among all health care disciplines and the extent to which pharmacists engage in patient care activities brought me back to Whiteriver."

Under these agreements, Doctor of Pharmacy candidates at partner universities will join students from more than 80 universities in 39 states to complete rotations at IHS direct service facilities.

"We are delighted to partner with the Indian Health Service to give important clinical experience opportunities for our students and to contribute to the IHS mission of providing excellent patient care," said Dr. Craig K. Svensson, Dean of the Purdue College of Pharmacy.

In addition to the Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience Program, IHS offers internships, externships, rotations and residencies to pharmacy, behavioral health, dentistry, optometry, nursing and medical students. IHS also announced an estimated $13.7 million will be available for scholarships and $30 million will be available for loan repayments this year.

"This program provides valuable experience for potential IHS health care employees," said Erik Chosa, a program participant before he joined IHS as a pharmacist at Crow/Northern Cheyenne Hospital for 14 years. He now serves as the IHS Billings Area Pharmacy Consultant. "It allows future health care professionals to experience how rewarding it can be to work at IHS."

IHS works to continually improve recruitment and retention of health care professions by offering competitive programs, scholarships and incentives. In the past year, IHS expanded pay scales, increased the availability of relocation incentives to recruit qualified staff and expanded its scholarship and loan repayment programs. Additionally, IHS streamlined the recruitment process with the introduction of the Global Recruitment Initiative to make it simpler for health professionals to find and apply for jobs; and increased the number of facilities eligible for National Health Service Corps opportunities.

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IHS Awards Tribal Management Grants to Support Tribal Self-Determination

The Indian Health Service (IHS) has issued Tribal Management Grant Program awards to 17 tribes and tribal organizations, totaling more than $1.6 million. These annual IHS tribal management grants are intended to assist tribes in preparing to assume all or part of existing IHS programs, functions, services and activities and further develop and improve their health management capability.

“The tribal management grants are an example of how we are working with tribes and tribal organizations to assist them in assuming the responsibility of providing health care to their members and to operate and manage health care programs or services previously provided by IHS,” said IHS Acting Director Rear Adm. Michael D. Weahkee. “The partnership between IHS and the tribes and tribal organizations we serve is critical to our success in providing access to quality health care for American Indians and Alaska Natives.”

The Tribal Management Grant Program is designed to enhance and develop health management infrastructure and assist tribes and tribal organizations in assuming all or part of existing IHS programs, functions, services, and activities through Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act  (ISDEAA) agreements and to assist American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and tribal organizations with ISDEAA Title I and Title V agreements to further develop and improve their management capability. The Tribal Management Grant program consists of four project types with various funding amounts and project periods. The project types include: Feasibility Study, Planning, Evaluation Study, and Health Management Structure.

The following tribes and tribal organizations received funding:

  • Aroostook Band of Micmacs, Presque Isle, Maine, $100,000
  • Canoncito Band of Navajo Health Center, Inc., Tohajiilee, New Mexico, $135,219
  • Coquille Indian Tribe, North Bend, Oregon, $50,000
  • Five Sandoval Indian Pueblos, Inc., Rio Rancho, New Mexico, $97,800
  • Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Health Board, Rapid City, South Dakota, $126,807
  • Indian Health Council, Valley Center, California, $55,000
  • Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Hayward, Wisconsin, $100,000
  • Mathiesen Memorial Health Center, Jamestown, California, $97,943
  • Sanford Tribal Consortium, Gakona, Alaska, $104,811
  • North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians of California, North Fork, California, $100,000
  • Northern Arapaho Business Council, Fort Washakie, Wyoming, $100,000
  • Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, Fulton, Michigan, $70,000
  • Oglala Sioux Tribe, Pine Ridge, South Dakota, $100,000
  • Osage Nation, Pawhuska, Oklahoma, $100,000
  • Seldovia Village Tribe, Seldovia, Alaska, $140,447
  • Susanville Indian Rancheria, Susanville, California, $35,000
  • Three Affiliated Tribes, New Town, North Dakota, $127,708

The IHS Office of Direct Service and Contracting Tribes provides information, technical assistance, and policy coordination in support of Indian self-determination. ODSCT is the primary focal point for ISDEAA Title I activities and implementation. ODSCT provides agency leadership and advocacy for direct service tribes in the development of health policy program management and budget allocation and advises the IHS director and senior management on direct service tribes issues and concerns. ODSCT also coordinates and collaborates with the Direct Service Tribes Advisory Committee to host a national forum for all tribal leaders to discuss best practices, partnerships and resources to improve the Indian health care delivery system.

The IHS, an agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides a comprehensive health service delivery system for approximately 2.2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives.

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