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Alaska Nursing and Health Care Jobs

nurse in alaska photoIf you are a nurse, pharmacist, physical therapist, or even a physician's assistant Alaska is the place for you. Very little persistence is required to find a position - the jobs will basically come to you. Public hospitals in large cities, private medical centers, and small rural clinics are all in need of healthcare staff including certified medical assistants (CMA) and community health aids (CHA). Many positions only require one year of prior experience and others entail additional qualifications depending on the positions (such as practice in an emergency room or open heart scrub skill set or experience with a specific population like children). These positions are in such high need that some employers will take nurses who have barely completed their first semester of education and are actively enrolled in nursing schools. Contracts typically last from three months to six months and considerable incentives are offered to entice recruits.

What to Expect

Jobs are available at hospitals in the urban centers of Anchorage and Fairbanks and one can expect these locations to be like any other medical facility in the lower 48. Rural clinics, many funded through the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, may bring to mind the television program, Northern Exposure, where a New York City trained doctor faced ongoing cultural differences while seeing patients in rural Alaska.   Similar to most healthcare positions at hospitals and clinics, shifts can vary. Some positions are standard 8-hour shifts for 40 hours a week, while others are variable day shifts plus on call. Positions are posted with the schedule requirements so it is easy to weed out schedules that are not favorable. In addition, since staffing companies recruit for the majority of these positions, the transition to your site in Alaska tends to be fairly hassle-free as the companies often ensure quality housing and reliable transportation for its employees.  

Compensation and Costs

Nearly all positions are bundled with a very good wage package. Salaries depend on location and position (as well as prior experience) but range from $20-50 per hour for nurses and $40-70 per hour for pharmacists. Other benefits include: paid housing, airfare to Alaska, health insurance, continuing education credits, and some staffing companies even offer 401K plans. There are also bonuses for completion or extension of a contract and bonuses available for referrals (in some cases $500). The benefits are even flexible, for instance, one can pick a subsidy instead of paid housing or an allowance if you use miles for airfare. The only possible cost to employees is, if needed, acquiring a temporary license to practice in Alaska. The state offers a temporary permit that is valid for 6 months and is non-renewable and it must be applied for in conjunction with a permanent license (even if you don't actually need the permanent license). The total cost for the license is $374 ($324 for the perm and $50 for the temporary one).

Timeline and Tips

There is no real timeline for applying to these positions, as they are available year round. Applying is simple with many easy-to-use resources. For instance, many hospitals use recruiting and staffing services that maintain job listings and applications online:

http://www.nursingjobs.org
http://www.careerstaffrx.com
http://www.continuummedicalstaffing.com/
http://www.pharmstaff.com
http://www.ortravelnursingjobs.com
http://anchorage.craigslist.org/hea/

The State also has a website: http://www.jobs.state.ak.us/healthcare.htm that posts positions at hospitals, medical centers, and health care facilities. If you already have a license to practice in another state and do not want to go through the process of applying for one in Alaska then you may want to check federal positions at http://www.usajobs.gov. Since these jobs are federal positions, a license from any state is accepted regardless of where you are practicing. Many of these positions are located at either Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals or military bases.