We welcome applications from interested and talented students and residents to do a rotation at our Tribal Health Organization in northwest Alaska. Norton Sound Health Corporation (NSHC) is a tribally owned and operated, independent, not-for profit health care organization, founded in 1970 to meet the health care needs of the Inupiat, Siberian Yup’ik and Yu’pik people of the Bering Strait region. NSHC is governed by a 22-member board of directors that represents all communities and areas of the Bering Strait region, a 44,000 square-mile section of northwestern Alaska. Norton Sound Health Corporation puts the patient first. This principle applies equally at the new Norton Sound Regional Hospital and at the 15 village clinics managed by NSHC. Every day, NSHC’s approximately 700 employees – about 72% of them Alaska Native – demonstrate their commitment to our mission: providing quality health services and promoting wellness within our people and environment. Norton Sound Health Corporation is a model of how Indian Self-Determination is meant to work, with tribes taking responsibility for their own health and well-being. The student and resident rotation provides an in-depth experience for those who would welcome a rotation focused on rural, Alaskan, full-scope family medicine and/or indigenous health. We welcome the applications of top learners who would like to contribute to and learn from our mission.
Details of the rotation are below.
Please let me know if you have any further questions which are not answered below.
We look forward to welcoming you here,
Marc Levin, MD
Coordinator of Visiting Student, Resident and Fellow Rotations
Medical Director, Quyanna Care Center
Norton Sound Health Corporation
PO Box 966
Nome, Alaska 99762
We will only consider learners who have completed COVID-19 vaccination series and at least one booster and can provide proof with their initial application. This is for the safety of our patients particularly as many of our villages still don’t have running water and are at very high risk for rapid spread of illnesses so preventing any possible transmission is a high priority. All NSHC employees are required to be vaccinated at this time. Vaccinations and testing are available for free upon arrival to the Nome airport.
Any part (or all) of your rotation may change at any time depending on the covid situation, state and city regulations and the leadership of NSHC and the tribal villages.
Overview of rotation and requirements:
We generally only take 3 learners at a time and applications are rolling (ie the earlier you apply, the more likely to secure a spot). We favor learners from University of Washington and Alaska Family Medicine Residency as our local partners. Interviews by zoom with local leadership after initial application is accepted are required, see below for details.
The interest in the program far exceeds the administrative capacity to keep up with the volume of applications and inquiries about the program. I am generally running 2-3 weeks behind on responding to requests regarding this program. Emails are answered in the order received and please be patient as I process your application or inquiry. Please do not call the hospital looking for me with questions about your application. I am a practicing physician and am usually involved in patient care during the day but will respond by email as soon as I am able.
It is expected that you provide the appropriate documents within 2 weeks of acceptance to the rotation. We consider it a privilege to do a rotation here and place the responsibility of obtaining all necessary documents entirely on the learner. There are many more learners who want to rotate at tribal sites in Alaska than there are slots and we do not want to hold a spot if a learner is unable to submit the required documents. Unless there are outstanding circumstances, your acceptance to the rotation will be withdrawn if all required documents are not received in a timely manner.
Residents need an Alaska resident license which you could apply through from the AK Medical Board. I would need to sign the acceptance of responsibility form which you can forward to me and I will forward to the AK Medical Board. Do not apply for a license until you are accepted to the program. Students do not require a license.
Application process for residents from the Alaska (Providence) Family Medicine Residency: Submit Norton Sound application (https://www.nortonsoundhealth.org/resident-student-rotation-application/) to Dr. Levin by email. Amanda Soliai in your department is aware of our process and can submit the additional required documents. Essay and letters of recommendation are not needed.
Application process for students from Tulane University School of Medicine: Applications will be screened by Adam Peltz in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. We will still require a Norton Sound application (https://www.nortonsoundhealth.org/resident-student-rotation-application/), letter of good standing from Tulane and health information below. Essay and letters of recommendation are not needed.
Students of foreign medical schools: We are unable to accept applications from students of foreign medical schools at this time.
Application process for all other applicants: Please submit the following directly to Dr. Levin by email:
- Application from Norton Sound Health Corporation: Students and residents can apply here: https://www.nortonsoundhealth.org/resident-student-rotation-application/
- Letter of good standing from your program
- Two letters of recommendation (may be peer recommendations)
- Health information below – please submit proof of COVID-19 vaccination with initial application, others can be submitted upon acceptance
- Inter-institutional agreement: We prefer the AAMC Uniform Clinical Training Affiliation Agreement(available online) but will review a specific agreement from your school/residency if that is what you submit. Please have documents signed by the appropriate officials at your school before submitting to us and we will return the final signed copy to your school. This can be submitted after acceptance to the rotation.
- Background check: Ideally from your school/residency within 30 days of the start of your rotation. If you cannot/do not provide this, we will do a background check/fingerprinting on-site once you arrive. This must be completed before any patient contact.
- An essay which should address the following (please answer all the questions below, not an essay topic of your choosing):
- What are your professional goals?
- Where do you plan to practice after you complete your educational requirements?
- Why are you interested in an Alaska rotation? What type of site and placement are you seeking?
- Do you have any ties to Alaska or have you traveled to Alaska previously? Please describe the town you reside in or grew up in as far as population, economy, geography, etc.
- Please describe your commitment to the under-served population. Include any and all experience you may have gained from work or volunteer positions with youth, elderly, chronically ill or the disadvantaged. Also include any cross cultural experience
- Interviews: As we are a tribal health organization, all applicants interview by zoom with a committee of local leaders. This will be formal and professional but friendly. Questions we will be asking will be provided ahead of time and a former learner will be on the call so you can get a that perspective as well. Feeback about acceptance is given within 48 hours of the interview pending any outstanding circumstances.
- Documentation of vaccine complete series OR titers for MMR/varicella/Hep B/Tdap/Flu shot if coming during flu season (Oct-March)
- Documentation of COVID-19 vaccination(s) including at least one booster
- TB screening within the past 12 months: ppd or quantiferon gold
Details of the rotation:
- Housing: Please let me need to know your exact dates of arrival and departure. Norton Sound Health Corporation will cover the costs of housing for students and residents when possible. In Nome, students will always have their own room but it may be in a shared apartment with someone of the same gender. For transgender/gender non-conforming/gender diverse learners, please let me know if you need particular accommodation. For accommodation in the villages, see “village travel” below.
- Travel: Norton Sound Health Corporation will not cover travel to/from Nome for students and residents but will cover costs of travel to/from Nome/Native villages – see below. For arrival into Nome, we recommend you arrive on Alaska Airlines flight 151, departing Anchorage 10:50 am and arriving at 12:29 pm from Anchorage (times subject to change by Alaska Airlines) the day before starting (or earlier) as flights are frequently cancelled/delayed due to weather here. Alaska Airlines is the only commercial airline that flies from Anchorage to Nome.
- Food: Food is free in certain circumstances (ie a particularly busy shift) through the Norton Sound Regional Hospital nutrition services when you are on call for inpatient hospital rotations (ER, OB, inpatient) but generally you will be responsible for your own food. Food is more costly here than in the lower 48 generally. We would encourage you to bring dried food from the lower 48 which would be cheaper than food here and there are 2 local supermarkets in Nome as you are able.
- Your start date here will need to line up with one of our orientation dates (offered every other Monday). Orientation covers information about the hospital and organization as well as cultural training related to the Alaska Native communities we serve and EMR training. We will let you know if your start date need to be adjusted to match up with orientation. We do have the option of an online orientation as a last resort in certain circumstances.
- Rating of your preferences for the following services and comfort with medivacs.We generally have you rotate on 3-4 of your choice (for a 4 week rotation) but can design it however you want (ie have you on one service, with the exception of village travel which we can only offer one trip per rotation). We will discuss your preferences after acceptance to the rotation:
- ED (in Nome ED): Generally 10 or 12 hour shifts during the day or night. I tend not to have students/residents on night shift unless you specifically request that. You would be on generally 4 shifts per week. ER is run mostly by family physicians and one ER board certified doctor. ER physicians address the needs of patients in the ER while simultaneously addressing emergencies in coordination with local health aides in each of our Native villages.
- Village travel: Primary and urgent care in one of the 15 Native villages we serve. You will fly on a small plane and stay in the clinic or school, depending on the village (bring a sleeping bag if possible). Most of the villages do not have running or potable drinking water so you will need to bring your own (can buy in Nome). Travel is usually Monday to Thursday, although there are often changes due to weather conditions. Norton Sound Health Corporation will cover costs of flights and housing in the villages for students/residents. You will work with one of our family physician attendings in the villages and you may travel with them or meet them in the village later in the day or week (depends on travel availability). Care will both acute and chronic care.
- Inpatient medicine/peds: Work with one of our hospitalists on our inpatient unit. Hospital service is run by family doctors with inpatient skills.
- Psychiatry/behavioral health: Works inpatient and outpatient with psychiatrists and psych midlevels and behavioral health counselors and social workers
- OB team: Family doctors who offer prenatal care, OB triage care and inpatient deliveries in Nome inpatient unit as well as postpartum and newborn care. You will usually be on call with attending for 1-2 nights in a week but can adjust schedules if you are called in overnight.
- Primary Care clinic in Nome: Serving the primary care needs of Nome as well as the Native population of the region that may need a higher level of care than can be offered in the villages. We also get frequent visits from specialists from Anchorage (ANMC) who come for a couple days every month to address non-urgent specialty needs. There are often telemedicine visits around the region. Primary care is provided by family doctors, midlevels and 2 pediatricians. Care will both acute and chronic care.
- Medivacs: We do have frequent medivacs of patients from the villages to the ER in Nome or Anchorage (and occasionally Seattle) and from the ER/inpatient unit to Anchorage/Seattle for emergencies. In addition, medivacs are used when doctors need to go from Nome to the villages for emergencies (ie patient in early labor). Let me know if you would like to participate in and be comfortable going on these. These are all on small planes and weather and space-permitting. A release form will be required and will be provided after acceptance to the rotation.