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Our members know their states! Eric Peter, our Alaska 3RNet member, shares his take on what makes Alaska--in his words--The Great Land.

Name: Eric Peter 

City, State: Juneau, Alaska

Organization: Alaska Department of Health & Social Services, Division of Public Health

How long have you lived in Alaska? Why do you choose to live there? I was born in Alaska. I remain here because Alaska is, in a phrase, The Great Land.

How is 3RNet impacting Alaska?

Alaska 3RNet enables candidates from around the country to see Alaska’s health care system that spans the state’s vast land mass and remote communities. One of the major participants in 3RNet for Alaska is the Alaska Native tribal health system. Tribal health organizations recruit for health care providers in tribal hospitals and small, remote community clinics. Alaska provides multiple regions, climates, and cultures.

What are the best cultural events that happen in Alaska?

The Iditarod sled dog race, called the “last great race on earth,” is one of Alaska’s most significant annual events. Alaska Native tribal celebrations, such as Celebration, held in Juneau every two years, is another major event. Other events are the Alaska State Fair held every year in Palmer. Another unique annual event in Alaska is the Nenana Ice Classic, a betting pool in which people buy tickets and guess what day and time the ice breaks up on the Tanana River near Nenana in the spring.

Why should a health professional choose Alaska over surrounding states?

Health professionals should choose Alaska because of our cultural and physical environments. Alaska offers urban living as well as rural lifestyles in remote communities. Practitioners should also choose Alaska because they can make a real difference in providing care to underserved populations.

What loan repayment programs does Alaska have? Anything that makes those programs unique?

Alaska has the National Health Service Corps. Also, Alaska has its own state loan repayment program called the SHARP Program. Over the years the SHARP Program has offered more eligible health care sites and occupations. In the future, SHARP will provide additional programs to widen the opportunities for loan repayment.

How is the J-1 Visa Waiver program utilized in Alaska?

Alaska sponsors the annual 3RNet Academy so that all health care facilities can participate at no cost. Employer sites that post opportunities on 3RNet receive weekly lists of candidates who have logged onto 3RNet in the past week. Candidates who register or updated their registrations receive an email describing Alaska’s health care system along with links to loan repayment resources and community information. 

Are healthcare professionals valued in Alaska? Do you have any examples?

Healthcare professionals are highly valued and sought after in Alaska. In many cases, practitioners who practice at main “hub” facilities provide itinerant services to villages served by the managing organization. This includes travel by small aircraft and snow machines.

Why do people travel to Alaska?

People travel to Alaska for the magnificent scenery of mountains and glaciers. They come to Alaska to hunt and fish. They come because Alaska is America’s last great wilderness.

What sports teams does Alaska have?

Because of Alaska’s small population we do not have any major league teams, but Alaskans love their sports. Basketball is popular in Southeast Alaska, especially in Alaska Native communities that come together every year in Juneau for the Gold Medal Tournament. The World Eskimo-Indian Olympics take place every year in Fairbanks. Hockey is an important game in many areas of Alaska and includes such teams as the Alaska Nanooks and Fairbanks Ice Dogs. The Alaska Baseball League that features the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks and the Anchorage Bucs.

What is your favorite local food?

Fresh-caught Alaska seafood in one of the state’s premier local foods.

What is Alaska best known for?

Alaska is best known for its scenic beauty, wilderness, and cultural diversity.

What is the biggest misconception about Alaska?

The biggest misconception about Alaska is that we’re an arctic wilderness and that Alaskans get rich by just living here. The truth is Alaska consists of several climate regions and biological zones. Alaskans receive an annual dividend from Alaska’s oil revenues. It’s a small bonus for living here, but not enough to get rich from. 

What are the biggest industries in Alaska?

Alaska’s biggest industries are oil, tourism, commercial fishing, timber, and mining.

How is the weather/climate in Alaska?

The weather and climate in Alaska are diverse and depend on whether location is coastal, inland, and how far north. Sometimes we will learn that a spot in Alaska has a warmer winter temperature than a spot in the “Lower 48” that’s know for warmer temperatures. Alaska’s Gulf Coast is often moderate due to the Pacific Ocean, while points north are known for bitter cold during the winter. Because of its northern location, in the summer many parts of the state are known as the Land of the Midnight Sun because of their long days.

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