It’s no secret that there is a national shortage of psychiatrists. The situation is quite dire, according to the National Institute on Mental Health. In recent years, fewer than 5 percent of medical school students have applied for psychiatry related residencies. And among active psychiatrists, more than 55 percent of practicing doctors are 55 or older.
Fortunately, those in the field are coming up with innovative ways to attract people to the field and are also training primary care doctors to better meet their patients’ mental health needs.
At Mayo Clinic, Carlos Salgado, M.D., is trying something a little bit different to get people interested in the field of childhood mental health and psychiatry. He’s targeting medical students early, during their first and second year of school. He’s reaching out to schools that don’t have robust psychiatry and psychology programs and offering students free consults on the field. As he describes above, the results have been promising. The students he consults with show a much more favorable opinion of the field when polled about what they’d like to choose for their medical specialty.