The Indian Health Service, or IHS, is a government program that serves American Indians and Alaska Natives. As a subset of the Department of Health and Human Services, IHS is responsible for organizing healthcare services for members of the 567 nationally recognized tribes of American Indians and Alaska natives. The 2.2 million individuals in these 567 tribes live in 36 states across the nation¹. American Indians and Alaska natives suffer from significant health disparities related to chronic illness and access to quality healthcare that is efficient and effective.
A health disparities fact sheet on the IHS website succinctly portrays this dismal picture. The average life expectancy of an individual born today to the American Indian and Alaska Native population is 4.4 years shorter than the rest of the United States (all races). Across the board, chronic diseases disproportionately kill American Indian and Alaska Natives at higher rates than the rest of the races in the U.S. Most notably, an American Indian/Alaska Native individual with chronic liver disease and/or cirrhosis is nearly five times more likely to die from the disease than Americans of other races. American Indian or Alaska Natives with diabetes mellitus have a mortality ratio of 3:1 with diabetics in other races in the U.S¹. Unfortunately, these shocking statistics are not the only instances of increased mortality rates in American Indians and Alaska natives.
Understanding the IHS Need for Locum Tenens
With the astronomical cost of a medical education, it comes as no surprise that few physicians are taking primary care provider positions in low-income areas such as reservations. Fewer primary care providers available (among other factors) leads to a decreased availability of screening, disease prevention, and health-promotion therapies. In turn, decreased screening and preventative medicine translates into diseases being found in later stages which leads to poorer outcomes.
IHS is turning to locum tenens physicians to help bridge the gaps in care for this vulnerable population. Locum tenens providers are contracted through NEXTLocums to fulfill short-term needs in various facilities across the country. As a locum tenens physician, you will make a remarkable and tangible difference in the lives of members of the American Indian and Alaska Native tribes. Speak with an experienced NEXTLocums recruiter to learn more about how you can earn a competitive salary and benefits package while embarking upon a rewarding medical career caring for this unique population.
1. “Disparities Fact Sheet” (Apr. 2017). Indian Health Service. Retrieved from https://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/factsheets/disparities/.