Image of Heather Kovich

I completed a training rotation at the Lovejoy Clinic in Albion, Maine that allowed me to gain valuable clinical and community health skills while providing health care to underserved communities.  That experience, under the mentorship of Dr. Paul Forman, was instrumental in my decision to pursue a family medicine residency at the University of Washington.  While there, I worked briefly at an IHS site and, from that point on, I knew I wanted to practice in a Native American community, where I could not only work with a unique population, but also learn about a new culture.

In September 2009, my husband and I chose to relocate to the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, NM — an IHS site serving the Navajo Nation and one faced with many barriers to care.  We were attracted to the area by the Navajo people and their rich culture and tradition as well as the beauty of the landscape surrounding the community with its natural scenery and wilderness and the abundance of outdoor recreational activities.  In 2010, knowing that my husband and I were committed to staying in New Mexico, I became an NHSC loan repayment participant receiving $50,000 to cover my educational loans. Today, I provide care to approximately 25 patients a day as well as teach visiting students and residents and direct the mortality/morbidity conference at the hospital. My relationship with my patients is both important and rewarding to me. I take the time to get to know them, their living environments, unique customs and obstacles to health care by conducting home visits.

My career is so fulfilling! I am thankful for the opportunity to be an NHSC LRP participant. Once I complete my service obligation, I look forward to extending my service in Shiprock and with the NHSC.