Health Careers in Alaska

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Community Health Practitioner (CHP)

Melissa Johnson


The person… 


In 1992, Melissa Johnson was faced with the challenge of helping to save her parents when they were in a plane wreck. At the time, she was a Medic in the Air National Guard. It was this event that steered her towards becoming a Community Health Practitioner (CHP) in her hometown of Shishmaref. Melissa has worked as a CHP in the Shishmaref Clinic for the past ten years, along with four other Community Health Aides (CHAs).

Melissa enjoys living in Shishmaref with her family. When she is not working at the clinic or “on call,” she especially enjoys playing basketball.

The job…

Melissa finds her job both challenging and rewarding. As a CHP, she and the other CHAs respond to village health care concerns and emergencies. Melissa may see as many as 10 patients a day at the clinic. She gives immunizations, draws blood, gives pap smears, assists cancer patients in being more comfortable, and deals with a variety of health problems from head to toe. Besides seeing patients, Melissa may spend part of her day doing lab work and inventorying clinic supplies and medicine.

Outside of the clinic, Melissa occasionally gives presentations to the community. Some of the topics include breast-feeding, suicide, STDs, and preventative medicine. Although Melissa thoroughly enjoys her job, she finds it to be challenging at times, especially when she is “on call” while at home. But being able to help, and at times even save lives, is a big reward.

Advice to students…

For students interested in the medical field, Melissa comments, “This is a good job if you enjoy helping others. It’s easy once you know what’s going on with the whole body.” She suggests taking science and health courses in high school.

For those Community Health Aides or Practitioners just starting out in this profession, Melissa advises, “Don’t let any kind of emergency get you down. And remember, it’s the life of a person you save which is your reward.”

This page was last updated by Janice Troyer on November 21, 2002

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