Document Type



Purpose This report provides the results and implications of a survey conducted with full-time, permanently employed Indian Health Service (IHS) physicians. Methods Surveys were mailed to 1,014 physicians identified on the payroll records from the IHS. Each questionnaire was mailed along with a letter from the IHS Director explaining the goals of the survey and requesting cooperation. The survey focused on four major categories of questions: 1) personal experiences and medical practice in the IHS , as well as future career plans; 2) individual assessments of particular features of the IHS and the importance of these features in a physician's decision to stay with of leave the IHS ; 3) demographic information; and 4) recommendations of changes in the IHS that might extend tenure of service. Physicians who did not respond to the initial mailing were contacted by telephone and urged to respond. Results Six hundred forty nine out of 853 eligible physicians completed the survey. According to survey results, aspects of IHS employment that are important to physicians include quality of care, relationships with the Native American community, levels and quality of administrative support, impact of the job on family life, and local living conditions. The least important aspects covered by the survey include housing benefits, loan repayment program, and IHS physical facilities. Conclusion The majority of IHS physicians were mildly satisfied with their employment. Overall, the IHS was praised for the quality of care, good relations with the Native communities, and adequate local living conditions; it was criticized for the low number of medical support staff, poor finances, and lack of career development opportunities.

Publication Date



Indian Health Service, Staff Office of Planning, Evaluation and Research, Rockville, MD 20857 (SSI-16).