Indian Health Service Volunteers: In Their Own Words

"I have gone to Shiprock eight times to treat neurology patients.  Over the years, I have made friends there and always feel very welcome when I go. It is rewarding to learn from each visit what more can be done and to see how the BWH-Navajo Area IHS relationship has solidified and expanded. I have also learned how to practice in an environment with fewer resources than BWH; one in which the MRI machine comes once a week rather than having many easily available 24 hours a day and one in which EEGs cannot easily be obtained. I have learned how to think about patient care in a different way and to consider how to best manage patients who have limited ability to come for follow-up appointments and how to best provide education in a different cultural context.

"It has been encouraging to see that despite fewer resources, the Navajo people have access to a dedicated group of health care providers who are very caring, knowledgeable and are truly serving their patients. They are inspirational.  I have had wonderful and deeply meaningful experiences and plan on going back each year!"
- Tracey Milligan, MD, Neurologist

"Each year I come back, I feel like I have grown as a doctor and as a person."
- Molly Cavanaugh-Hussey, MD, Dermatologist

"The Outreach Program opportunities have been one of the greatest rewards of being a BWHer.  Meeting the wonderful patients and witnessing first-hand the work of our remarkable colleagues, many of whom are former BWH trainees capable of practicing anywhere, reveals the essence of the doctor-patient relationship, and further demonstrates the limited role of physical resources at the end of the day. To me, my ongoing experiences of onsite visits, remote teaching and e-consultations prove to be an antidote to burnout, reminding me of why I chose this path."
- Srini Mukundan, Jr., MD, PhD, Neuroradiologist

"Great experience. Wonderful staff. Super wonderful patient population. If we could pull it off, should be required for all BWH MDs!" - Scott Schissel, MD, PhD, Pulmonologist

"I am just back from my 8th trip to Gallup.  I can truly say that I have never felt as appreciated by a group of physicians as I did by the group there. It is unusual to be able to go somewhere and truly come back thinking that I could have a major impact on health care practice in the area.  For physicians considering going, know you will feel great about doing it!"
- Margo Hudson, MD, Endocrinologist

"Mind expanding and deeply fulfilling. Made me remember why I am a physician."
- Jason Frangos, MD, Dermatologist

"Each time I go, my stay at Shiprock is a tremendous experience for me personally. I have made a lasting connection with the dedicated clinicians and nurses that I worked with. Physicians from Shiprock call and email me for clinical questions relating to their patients and I this is a great way to serve and stay connected to IHS between visits. I have been 4 times and participate in the remote teaching CME program. I am always eager to return and contribute in any way I can!"
- Paul Dellaripa, MD, Rheumatologist

"The medical staff in Shiprock had a huge backlog of patients with heart failure. For my own part, it was an eye-opening experience to see both the acuity of the medical issues and the limitations of IHS resources on the reservation. Not only am I scheduled to return to Shiprock to continue to provide patient care, I have recently hosted an IHS physician at the BWH to provide a more focused opportunity to learn about our Heart Failure Service and Clinic. These visits are augmented my twice a year remote CME classes which allows us to maintain our relationships and stay involved."
- John Jarcho, MD, Cardiologist

"My husband and I spent three years in Chinle on the Najavo Reservation before our fellowships in Boston. I think the faculty volunteers will have a great professional experience at Chinle. It is at the geographic center of the reservation and therefore many of the patients they serve still live a more traditional Navajo Lifestyle. The primary care providers are incredibly capable and dedicated. The patients are often very sick and are deeply grateful for the care they receive. My BWH faculty colleagues will be contributing a great service and will also find it rewarding to serve this very special population. They will also love the Canyon de Chelly, which is one mile away and one of my favorite places."
- Ellen Marqusee, MD, Endocrinologist