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Questions for those who have done the seasonal remote Alaska jobs


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Hey everyone, I'd love to hear the experiences of those who have worked these remote AK jobs.  I've read through the forum posts here but haven't found any with the more specific details surrounding these unique jobs.  I figure this could be a repository for future people looking into the details of these jobs as well.  I know there will be a lot of variability out there depending on the company / job, but it would still be great to hear some of the stories out there.  

 

1)General roles and responsibilities?  How much is acute care vs chronic care, EM vs FM, etc.  Is the expectation that we are just acting as these people's PCP or just keeping them alive and holding them over until they can get back to the mainland?  Are we expected to be routine OB providers and do deliveries as well...?!  (this last one has me nervous ha!)

2)What kind of resources do we have access to?  Personnel, testing availabilities, labs/imaging?  Are we doing our own blood draws, IVs, everything?  Critical care supplies and expectations, like intubations, ventilators, chest tubes, etc?  Bedside ultrasound availability?  I've heard these are small clinics so I guess I'd be surprised if they have all of these things?  

3)What kind of backup / supervision do we have?  24/7 ability to call supervising physician?  Are there remote sites with multiple medical providers around who take turns?

4)Job details?  What are the regular "clinic hours" and is it always 24/7 on call?  Range of patients per day and calls per night we'd expect to see?

5)What are contracts typically, 1099 or what?  Malpractice + tail covered usually?   

6)Is the provided housing usually enough for a family of 4?  

 

Thank you for those willing to share your experiences!  I'd have quite a bit of EM experience by the time I'd be able to jump into one of these jobs but the thought of being the only provider in a fishing village that requires dogsled and airplane evacuation still induces some palpitations haha; I want to really know what I'd be getting into!

-SN

 

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I have not done one of these contracts yet, but can provide some resources for you:

https://secure.beaconinsight.com/servlet/jobs/beaconjobs (lots of month on/month off jobs. 

https://wildernessmedicalstaffing.com/  (They can help you get an AK license and have assignments from 3 days to a year or more) 

and this is a great book, written by a PA who has done this for years:

https://www.amazon.com/End-Chain-Robert-Wallace-Finlay/dp/150303044X

I have many friends who have done these. For most, you are either the only medical provider on site or you are the highest medical authority on site, supervising a few paramedics. Generally the SP of record is a voice on the phone who you never meet. Most places have very basic lab and plain film xray only, but a reasonable code cart, u/s, etc

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The requirements will vary depending on where you are. I was a solo provider in a camp that was pumping LNG and sending it south. Staffing for the camp was minimal because it was well established and just pumping. I watched a lot of TV but big stuff can happen. The camp manager had a huge MI when I was off cycle and died in his office. It took about 3 hours for the med evac plane to get there. If the weather had been bad they wouldn't be able to come at all.

There was a main clinic in Deadhorse and those guys stayed busy especially since COVID had just bloomed when I was there. They had a full COVID ward in addition to the usual duties.

Some of these places are heavy on some occ med stuff like hearing tests, drug screens, ventilator mask fitting and testing and the like.

Some of the more remote sights might include looking after some local villagers and anything can happen and you would be the solo provider and dependent on flights out for bad stuff. (see weather note above).

So if you are considering one of these places you need to make sure your skill set is up to what might be required of you. It isn't for the timid.

 

As an aside I worked for Beacon and they were a good company. Good support. Good training for the things I needed like the occ med stuff I had never done. The medical director(s) were awesome.

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Thank you guys.  Couldn't agree more.  With the current gig and family I won't be able to do this immediately but it is a dream of mine to do relatively soon and I want to start preparing / studying some of the things that would be required there that I'm not exposed to at my current job.  

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Start with getting the AK license. It is expensive and takes months. Wilderness medical staffing can get you an SP of record to list on the form. When/if I start doing this I will be looking for the more remote/solo positions that do not do OCCmed, because that is not something that interests me in any way. A lot of these pay VERY well, because you are on the clock 24/7 for after hours call

this one is primary care for $107/hr. https://wildernessmedicalstaffing.com/medical-provider-jobs/1884-part-time-primary-care-nurse-practitioner-or-physician-assistant-needed-in-alaska-great-pay/

this one is 25k/month x 3 months: https://wildernessmedicalstaffing.com/medical-provider-jobs/1779-clinic-and-emergency-locum-nurse-practitioner-or-physician-assistant-needed-in-rural-alaska/

A buddy of mine does 2 weeks twice a year for 7k/week up there at Fort Yukon medical center( 2 bed ED). It is through this group: https://phh.tbe.taleo.net/phh01/ats/careers/v2/jobSearch?org=YKHC&cws=41

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2 hours ago, sas5814 said:

The requirements will vary depending on where you are. I was a solo provider in a camp that was pumping LNG and sending it south. Staffing for the camp was minimal because it was well established and just pumping. I watched a lot of TV but big stuff can happen. The camp manager had a huge MI when I was off cycle and died in his office. It took about 3 hours for the med evac plane to get there. If the weather had been bad they wouldn't be able to come at all.

There was a main clinic in Deadhorse and those guys stayed busy especially since COVID had just bloomed when I was there. They had a full COVID ward in addition to the usual duties.

Some of these places are heavy on some occ med stuff like hearing tests, drug screens, ventilator mask fitting and testing and the like.

Some of the more remote sights might include looking after some local villagers and anything can happen and you would be the solo provider and dependent on flights out for bad stuff. (see weather note above).

So if you are considering one of these places you need to make sure your skill set is up to what might be required of you. It isn't for the timid.

 

As an aside I worked for Beacon and they were a good company. Good support. Good training for the things I needed like the occ med stuff I had never done. The medical director(s) were awesome.

WORD! Days of monotony interrupted by moments of terror! You need to be on your game at a moments notice and be prepared  to deal with critical patients for hours waiting for the weather to break or the medevac crew to arrive. If you are lucky there might be another provider nearby of various skill levels (EMT, Paramedic , hopefully another PA). I try to get to know who may be in a nearby site and get a gentleman's agreement  to help each other out.

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3 hours ago, SERENITY NOW said:

Hey everyone, I'd love to hear the experiences of those who have worked these remote AK jobs.  I've read through the forum posts here but haven't found any with the more specific details surrounding these unique jobs.  I figure this could be a repository for future people looking into the details of these jobs as well.  I know there will be a lot of variability out there depending on the company / job, but it would still be great to hear some of the stories out there.  

 

1)General roles and responsibilities?  How much is acute care vs chronic care, EM vs FM, etc.  Is the expectation that we are just acting as these people's PCP or just keeping them alive and holding them over until they can get back to the mainland?  Are we expected to be routine OB providers and do deliveries as well...?!  (this last one has me nervous ha!)

2)What kind of resources do we have access to?  Personnel, testing availabilities, labs/imaging?  Are we doing our own blood draws, IVs, everything?  Critical care supplies and expectations, like intubations, ventilators, chest tubes, etc?  Bedside ultrasound availability?  I've heard these are small clinics so I guess I'd be surprised if they have all of these things?  

3)What kind of backup / supervision do we have?  24/7 ability to call supervising physician?  Are there remote sites with multiple medical providers around who take turns?

4)Job details?  What are the regular "clinic hours" and is it always 24/7 on call?  Range of patients per day and calls per night we'd expect to see?

5)What are contracts typically, 1099 or what?  Malpractice + tail covered usually?   

6)Is the provided housing usually enough for a family of 4?  

 

Thank you for those willing to share your experiences!  I'd have quite a bit of EM experience by the time I'd be able to jump into one of these jobs but the thought of being the only provider in a fishing village that requires dogsled and airplane evacuation still induces some palpitations haha; I want to really know what I'd be getting into!

-SN

 

Each of the positions I've worked across Alaska was  it's own set of circumstances. Supervision in Alaska can vary from the SP being in the clinic to being hundreds of miles away. Out in remote villages you are everything at all times there are clinic hours but a good number of people don't/won't respect these hours. Some villages have less than 100 people others have thousands of people Who you are working for will determine W-2 vs 1099 jobs. Housing out in the villages is a premium and often is an improved shack, which you my pay rent for or assigned to you as part of the job.!

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3 hours ago, SERENITY NOW said:

Hey everyone, I'd love to hear the experiences of those who have worked these remote AK jobs.  I've read through the forum posts here but haven't found any with the more specific details surrounding these unique jobs.  I figure this could be a repository for future people looking into the details of these jobs as well.  I know there will be a lot of variability out there depending on the company / job, but it would still be great to hear some of the stories out there.  

 

1)General roles and responsibilities?  How much is acute care vs chronic care, EM vs FM, etc.  Is the expectation that we are just acting as these people's PCP or just keeping them alive and holding them over until they can get back to the mainland?  Are we expected to be routine OB providers and do deliveries as well...?!  (this last one has me nervous ha!)

2)What kind of resources do we have access to?  Personnel, testing availabilities, labs/imaging?  Are we doing our own blood draws, IVs, everything?  Critical care supplies and expectations, like intubations, ventilators, chest tubes, etc?  Bedside ultrasound availability?  I've heard these are small clinics so I guess I'd be surprised if they have all of these things?  

3)What kind of backup / supervision do we have?  24/7 ability to call supervising physician?  Are there remote sites with multiple medical providers around who take turns?

4)Job details?  What are the regular "clinic hours" and is it always 24/7 on call?  Range of patients per day and calls per night we'd expect to see?

5)What are contracts typically, 1099 or what?  Malpractice + tail covered usually?   

6)Is the provided housing usually enough for a family of 4?  

 

Thank you for those willing to share your experiences!  I'd have quite a bit of EM experience by the time I'd be able to jump into one of these jobs but the thought of being the only provider in a fishing village that requires dogsled and airplane evacuation still induces some palpitations haha; I want to really know what I'd be getting into!

-SN

 

I've never seen a dog sled out in the villages! ATVs are the primary transport in off the road system villages. I've flown on a few Coast Guard aircraft with critically ill patients traveled by fishing boat to a larger airfield  when the local gravel strip couldn't be used, spent more than a few nights in the clinic monitoring a critically ill person awaiting a medevac flight. Not jobs for the faint of heart or those who need full lab, x-ray and ancillary staff support.

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Quite frankly you can make the same money with the same schedule in North Dakota which to me is preferable to some remote village with air access only on the frozen tundra. I work one 36hr shift a week, average 9pts a shift. Option to work one 72hr shift every two weeks instead but I like shorter shifts. Housing provided, avera eCare back-up. 

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