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August 20, 2020
June 21, 2022

Working with the Indian Health Service (IHS), locum tenens doctors and advanced medical practitioners are bridging the healthcare gaps for vulnerable populations across the country.

As a branch of the Department of Health and Human Services, IHS organizes and provides healthcare services for the more the 560 recognized tribes of Native Americans and Alaska Natives in 37 states. A traditionally underserved population, Native Americans and Alaska Natives have limited access to quality healthcare. Many in these communities suffer from higher rates of chronic illness.

According to statistics on the IHS website:

  • Native Americans and Alaska Natives have a life expectancy of 73 years, rather than the average of 78.5 years for all other races in the U.S.
  • The leading causes of death for Native Americans and Alaska Natives are diseases of the heart, diabetes, malignant neoplasm and unintentional injuries.
  • They also die at a much higher rate than other races for other chronic illnesses, including diabetes, chronic lower respiratory diseases, and chronic liver disease and cirrhosis.
  • The difficulty in accessing quality healthcare and the widespread quality of life issues also contribute to a higher fatality rate assault/homicide and intentional self-harm/suicide.

The data reveals the situations leading to a lower life expectancy. Solutions are hard to come by, impacted by the inadequate education, poverty, lower-income, and insufficient infrastructure found on the reservations and communities across the country.

With the rising cost of medical education and income disparity on the reservations where many Native Americans and Alaskan Natives live, there are significantly fewer primary care providers. This leads to fewer screenings, disease prevention, or therapies to promote health that can identify or mitigate conditions early. Advanced medical care is difficult to access or inconvenient, and diseases are often found too late, which leads to poor health outcomes.

To change the health outcomes for Native Americans and Alaskan Natives, IHS and the Department of Health and Human Services are turning to locum tenens. Working closely with locum tenens providers, IHS is bridging the gap with doctors and advanced medical providers from around the country. These physicians are filling the short-term needs at facilities on the front lines.

As a locum tenens physician, you can be the difference in the lives of Native Americans and Alaskan Natives by providing critical care, identifying diseases early, and improving health outcomes in these communities and tribes.


Talk to a locum tenens recruiter today to learn more. Discover how you can make a difference in lives while blazing a new path in your medical career.