America’s ongoing physician shortage reaches nearly every town and city in the country. It affects almost every area of healthcare delivery as well. At America’s hospitals, finding enough doctors to keep staffing numbers where they ought to be is often easier said than done. One area of particular need is psychiatry.
According to a 2018 report by Forbes, there were only about 28,000 active psychiatrists in the U.S. in 2017. The same report said that the shortage of psychiatrists is outpaced only by family doctors. Thus, it is incumbent upon hospitals to find a way to make psychiatry jobs more attractive.
Based on a November 2019 Florence Health article, hospitals might want to consider the following:
Better Managing Workload
Doctors of all stripes need adequate time to spend with their patients. The need in psychiatry is greater than most other specialties, given that doctors are not dealing with easily defined issues. Psychiatrists need more time to talk and explore. They need more time to listen.
Managing workload in such a way as to give psychiatrists that time they need goes a long way toward helping them succeed. In turn, that goes a long way toward making the job more attractive.
Increase Physician Autonomy
It’s easy for a physician in the hospital environment to feel like he/she has no control over his/her daily decisions. This makes for a rather unattractive working environment. What’s the solution? Giving psychiatrists more autonomy. Let them do what they have been trained to do.
Autonomy is a tricky thing to achieve in a hospital setting. Administrative controls are so tight as to demand that physicians stay within certain parameters in order to satisfy management. Take those shackles off and see what happens. Doctors in general, and psychiatrists in particular, thrive on autonomy.
Provide Social Support
Psychiatrists are no different than other clinicians in the sense that they need social support. They cannot always be the one tasked with solving problems. Sometimes they need a listening ear and some sound advice. Hospitals can make permanent and locum tenens psychiatry jobs more attractive by providing social support.
Provide Career Support
Hand-in-hand with social support is career support. Rather than treating the psychiatry position as just another job, treat it as part of a lifelong career. Hospitals can help psychiatrists by providing guidance in career development, offering continuing education opportunities, and creating a path that help doctors achieve their career goals.
Reward Work and Commitment
There is a common belief in America that young people go into medicine out of a genuine desire to help those in need. Whether or not that’s true, we still can’t erase the financial component of practicing medicine. Psychiatrists, like all doctors, expect to be fairly compensated for their work. Hospitals can go one step further by throwing in some extra rewards for excellent work and clear commitment.
Such rewards don’t always have to be financial. Hospitals can reward with a variety of perks that demonstrate the doctor is more than just a number in a human resources computer. Extra vacation time is one example. A prestigious committee assignment is another. There are plenty of ways to reward those who work hard and commit.
All these discussed ways to make psychiatry jobs more attractive have one thing in common: an investment in the doctor as a person rather than just an employee. This really is the key to the whole thing. Psychiatrists working in a hospital setting can come to feel like they are cogs in the wheel. The way around that is to show them that they are not.