The Doximity Guide to Recruiting Psychiatrists

Posted by Doximity TF Team

61017219_sMay is Mental Health Awareness Month, so it's the perfect time to talk about recruiting Psychiatrists.

Psychiatry is the second most-requested specialty for recruiting assignments (per a 2018 report from physician search firm, Merritt Hawkins) – and with good reason: the shortage of psychiatrists is more severe than shortages faced in virtually any other specialty.

Psychiatrists are in such high demand because more people are seeking mental health treatment: In the U.S., nearly 1 in 5 people will be affected by mental illness, per the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI). Other numbers reported by US News are incredibly troubling:

  • More than half of U.S. counties have zero psychiatrists.
  • About 111 million people live in "mental health professional shortage" areas.
  • Two-thirds of primary care physicians report difficulty referring patients for mental health care – twice the number reported for any other specialty.
  • The number of patients going to emergency departments for psychiatric services over a recent three-year period increased 42 percent.

The number of psychiatrists in the United States has increased by only 12 percent since 1995 – a rate that is far outpaced by underlying U.S. population growth. And currently, only about 4 percent of new medical residents go into psychiatry. To reach the minimal guidelines for adequate care, that means almost 4,900 new practitioners would be needed by 2020, per a report from New American Economy.

What’s more, 60 percent of practicing psychiatrists are 55 or older and nearing retirement – one of the highest proportions among all specialties. The shortage of psychiatrists is particularly dire in rural regions, many urban neighborhoods, and community mental health centers that often treat the most severe mental illnesses.

If you’re recruiting psychiatrists, here are a few facts to know:

Naturally, compensation influences where psychiatrists choose to live, which subspecialties they invest training in, and where they ultimately decide to practice. Psychiatrists can expect better job opportunities in areas with a higher aging population. The following states are expected to offer the highest growth opportunities for professionals with psychiatry degrees between 2012 and 2022, according to projections from the BLS: Utah, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Indiana, Arkansas, New Hampshire, Alaska, Arizona, and Colorado.

Geographical location and cost of living also play a role in just how much a psychiatrist gets paid. Wyoming, Alaska, Indiana, Mississippi, and Alabama boasts the highest earnings for psychiatrists, based on annual mean wage, per the BLS.

Subspecialization can facilitate a psychiatrist’s job search, too, e.g., Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatry, Addiction Psychiatry, Geriatric Psychiatry, and Emergency Psychiatry to name a few.

Medical schools and teaching hospitals are taking measures to address the shortage. This includes recruiting more future psychiatrists – and they’re showing signs of progress: the number of psychiatry residents grew 5.3% from 2010 to 2015, per the Association of American Medical Colleges.  

Efforts to recruit future psychiatrists have produced impressive results at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), too. Since 2013, the percentage of UNMC students choosing psychiatry has more than doubled. It's also more than twice the national average. The number one factor is a high-quality psychiatry clinical rotation. A dedicated track helps prepare—and attract—psychiatry residents to practice in rural areas.

While the challenges of recruiting psychiatrists – and the need for them across the U.S. is daunting – it’s not insurmountable. Physician recruiters confirm that psychiatrist jobs are consistently one of the most requested positions by healthcare facilities. If you’re recruiting psychiatrists, we’d love to hear how you’re addressing the shortage of talent.

To learn more about recruiting psychiatrists and other specialties online, check out Doximity’s Guide to Social Recruiting.

Topics: Growing U.S. physician shortage, Guide to Recruiting Psychiatrists

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