By Jennifer Larson, contributor Nov 02, 2020
The growing need for professionals who can provide mental healthcare cannot
be overstated, especially during stressful events like a global pandemic, or in
areas that have a shortage of practitioners. Could psychiatrists who take on
locum tenens jobs be part of the solution?
more about locum psychiatry jobs.
An ongoing shortage affected by the
Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives, produced
by Merritt Hawkins, noted that psychiatrists were the third-most requested
recruiting engagements, “reflecting a continued severe shortage of mental
health professionals likely to be exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.”
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) notes
that the United States continues to suffer from “a
dramatic shortage of psychiatrists and other mental health providers.”
Psychiatrist and psychotherapist Marc Lener, MD, notes that it’s
important to understand that the shortage is not a straightforward shortage. “It’s
a shortage in specific areas of the country,” explains Lener, founder and CEO
of Singula Institute.
Many rural areas are hurting for providers, while big cities may have
an abundance. The distribution does not match up to the demand. Additionally,
many providers don’t participate in insurance, which may put access to their
services out of reach for some people.
And the coronavirus pandemic has made a bad situation worse.
“We were already facing a national shortage of psychiatrists due to an
uneven distribution of psychiatrists across the country,” says Brian Wind, PhD,
a clinical psychologist and chief clinical officer of JourneyPure,
which provides therapy for addiction patients. “In many rural areas, people do
not have access to a psychiatrist or a support network such as support groups or
shelters. The pandemic exacerbated the problem and strained the shortages that
already exist in our healthcare system.”
A recent Kaiser
Family Foundation (KFF) poll found that “53% of adults in the United States
reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and
stress over the coronavirus.” The pandemic has also thrown up some new barriers
to accessing care for some people.
Some of the mental health issues induced by the pandemic will subside,
says Lener. But for others, the pandemic’s impact on their mental health may
linger long after the pandemic itself subsides, which will also affect the
demand for care.
“There are going to be a proportion of people who, as a result of this
stress, may have longstanding issues like anxiety, depression and
post-traumatic stress disorder,” Lener says.
Healthcare professionals, too, may suffer lingering “psychological distress,” according to the KFF
To some degree, the expansion of telemedicine
has helped. And other types of providers, such as psychiatric nurse
practitioners and social workers, can meet some of the need for behavioral and
mental health services. But there is
still an acute need for psychiatrists and their medical training.
Enter locum tenens psychiatrists. Locum psychiatrist
jobs offer psychiatrists a chance to use their expertise and training to
meet the needs of patients who might have trouble getting access to the care
that they need. These types of jobs can also provide a welcome change for
practitioners, and the chance to work with a different patient population.
If this type of role appeals to you, you might consider where the need
for your skills is the greatest, suggests Lener.
What to consider when taking a locum
If you’re considering taking on some work as a locum psychiatrist, look
at all the options that are available to you and see where you could make a
difference. You can ask
a recruiter about opportunities in regions or areas of the country where
the most openings seem to be.
One thing to keep in mind: it won’t be quite the same as working as a
full-time, permanent staff psychiatrist.
“You may feel less bonded to the community of staff as some functions
and gatherings may be reserved for full-time staff,” notes Wind.
Yet most locum psychiatrists are warmly welcomed because their help is
In fact, there are several upsides to the locum lifestyle. “Locum
tenens positions offer a lot of flexibility, and you get more control over your
benefits, time and avoid office politics,” says Wind.
As you consider your options, consider the context, setting and
duration of the assignments where locum psychiatrist jobs are available. Do you
relish the chance to build relationships with your patients? A longer-term
position in an outpatient setting may appeal to you. If you’re looking for
something shorter-term, an inpatient opportunity might be just the ticket.
CARE has locum opportunities for psychiatrists and
other medical practitioners across the U.S.
SEARCH LOCUM PSYCHIATRIST JOBS