Although Sheena Tanner resides in Missouri, she is very much rooted in Alaska. As an itinerant health aide for Tanana Chiefs Conference, Tanner works in any of the 42 villages in the TCC region where she is needed but often works in Circle.
Tanner grew up in Arctic Village and left to be with her husband Michael in military service. When they moved home to Arctic Village six years ago, the community hadn’t had a health aide for a decade, so Tanner thought it would be a good way to help support her family and took the training.
It soon became much more than a job. “It grew into a love of helping people and feeling fulfilled,” Tanner said.
Now the family lives in Missouri to be near Michael’s relatives. Tanner doesn’t mind because she comes home to Alaska to work often. The greatest challenge is to learn quickly who in the community where she is working can help in a time of need.
The variety of her work is a blessing to Tanner. “I’m interested in different cultures and traditional practices of Alaska Natives,” she said. “I like being exposed to that and I get to meet amazing people.”
In the future, Tanner might consider working toward becoming a nurse or physician’s assistant but for now, she is taking things one day at a time. She enjoys reading, playing video games with her children and cooking.
Tanner said she frequently advises young Alaskans to consider a health aide career, telling them it will get their foot in the door to a medical career.
Angela Lucien, TCC physician assistant and Tanner’s supervisor, said, “When I think of a warm, compassionate, professional and astute health care provider, I think of Sheena. She is a pleasure for all to work with, and often brightens the room she is in with her positive attitude and enjoyable personality.
“Sheena tackles challenges in the workplace with a can-do attitude, always making sure to do her best with great attention to detail. Sheena is the type of provider who will do anything she can to help lighten the load of her patients, community and coworkers. We are beyond blessed to have her serving our rural patients as a health aide in CHAP.”