If you’re considering working locum tenens assignments in Alaska, get excited to embark on one of the biggest adventures of your life! Alaska is known for its splendor of sights, an abundance of animals, and wide-open spaces. For healthcare providers who truly want to experience some of Alaska’s most beautiful landscapes, rural Alaska locum tenens positions can be an opportunity not to be missed. Providers who take on the challenge of working in the last frontier state may find that one of their biggest challenges is a lack of technology. In this article, we’ll cover our top suggestions for how to stay connected as a locum tenens in Alaska.
Alaska – What to Know
You may not be able to appropriately gauge the size of Alaska from a map, but Alaska is a huge state. The largest state in the United States, Alaska is larger than California, Montana, and Texas combined. The sheer size of Alaska makes telecommunication infrastructure difficult to build and maintain.
The majority of Alaska is also non-inhabited by people, often hundreds of miles from one populated area to another. When it comes to the comforts of technology, adapting to what’s available in Alaska may be part of the adventure for healthcare providers.
While healthcare facilities should have internet, it may be slower than what you’re used to. Many areas are limited to having one internet provider available. Reliable, high-speed internet in Alaska may remind you of the preschool adage, “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.” Internet may be on-site but you could be greeted with the reality of slower load times and less trusted coverage than what you’re used to in the lower 48.
You may find that your housing has limited or no internet access. If you’re working with Wilderness Medical Staffing, we’ll provide you with as much information as we can about internet expectations while on assignment.
If your assignment takes you to a slightly more populated region, you may be able to join public WiFi via libraries or spaces with shared internet access. If you’re working in a small village, accessing the internet may prove to be difficult.
While you likely have a phone plan through AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile in the contiguous United States, those providers are less popular in Alaska, and most of the time you won’t be able to get coverage using them. If you can get coverage, it’ll sometimes be considered roaming, so be careful and do some research with your mobile provider before heading out on assignment.
Instead, you’ll likely want to get a GCI phone or GCI SIM card while working in Alaska. GCI provides the most coverage in Alaska and offers pre-paid phone plans so you can have access to make calls for a reasonable amount.
The pre-paid plans also come with mobile hotspot access, but you’ll want to understand your plan details so you know what the parameters of usage are.
Prep Your Devices Before Traveling
If you know you’ll be in an area with spotty or limited access to the internet, you can prep your devices ahead of time. First, be sure to pack charging cables, so you can still utilize electronics sans internet. Even without internet access, you can still do plenty of things on computers, tablets, and phones.
- Download playlists of your favorite songs and podcasts so you’re able to play them offline.
- Download shows and movies from video streaming services so you can watch them during travel and when you arrive at your destination.
- Install games you like to play on your devices. Many games do not require online access, but can still be entertaining to play. Your devices may come equipped with some, but making sure you have a few favorites will help you to occupy your time while off of work shifts.
- Use additional programs that you typically don’t use. For instance, test out photo or video programs that come with your devices to keep memories of your time on assignment.
- Use your computer for writing. If you enjoy writing, being disconnected from the internet can be a great time to sit down and spend some time writing. Whether you decide to keep diary entries of your days while on assignment or start writing that novel you’ve had on your bucket list for a while, getting use out of your electronics without the internet can have its advantages.
What To Do Without the Internet
Believe it or not, you may enjoy the break from the web and might take it as an opportunity to disconnect and tap into more of the adventure during your assignment. Especially in Alaska, outdoor activities are plentiful! You’ll need to plan ahead since the weather in Alaska can change on a dime and can be much colder than what you’re used to in the rest of the United States.
Get to Know the Community
Many rural areas in Alaska are home to the small communities you’ll be serving as a medical provider. These communities often have rich histories going back generations living in these areas.
We get feedback often from providers sharing about their experience working with the communities and becoming part of the community while they are a visitor to the area. Our providers have enjoyed outdoor activities, ceremonies, celebrating holiday festivities, and being welcomed into the homes and lives of community members.
Community members are often more than temporary neighbors of tourists; providers sometimes become more like “chosen family” within the villages and rural areas of Alaska.
Explore the Outdoors
The great outdoors of Alaska is vast and often stunning. Many healthcare providers take advantage of the locations where they are working to get outside. Hiking, fishing, and hunting are favorite pastimes of many providers, but you’ll want to learn about the area before you head out.
Be sure you have bear spray! Wildlife is abundant in Alaska and providers commonly send us photos of bears, moose, foxes, and other wildlife. Some healthcare facilities even keep bear spray on-site, to keep people safe when leaving the facilities!
Enjoy Your Breaks
While your primary reason for visiting Alaska is providing medical care to communities, you’ll still get time to rest during your assignment (dependent upon your contracted schedule), just like you would any other job. Settle into the area and enjoy a slower pace during your breaks watching the scenery or slowly enjoying a cup of coffee.
Since your house likely has a TV and a way to play movies, you can also relax by watching movies the old-fashioned way, by putting them into a DVD or VHS player!
Experiencing the wonders of Alaska is often the reason why healthcare providers return to Alaska over and over again for their locum tenens assignments. With a little bit of knowledge and preparation, you can stay connected, but still enjoy the splendor of the state without being online 24/7.
Are you ready to get started working in Alaska? Contact our team to learn more!