AbstractObjective:This analysis quantified and assessed the projected workforce of psychiatrists in the United States through 2050 on the basis of population data.Methods:With use of data from the Association of American Medical Colleges (2000–2015), American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (2000–2015), and U.S. Census Bureau (2000–2050), the psychiatrist workforce was projected through 2050. Two established psychiatrist-to-population ratios were used to determine the estimated demand for psychiatrists and potential shortages.Results:The psychiatrist workforce will contract through 2024 to a projected low of 38,821, which is equal to a shortage of between 14,280 and 31,091 psychiatrists, depending on the psychiatrist-to-population ratio used. A slow expansion will begin in 2025. By 2050, the workforce of psychiatrists will range from a shortage of 17,705 psychiatrists to a surplus of 3,428.Conclusions:Because of steady population growth and the retirement of more than half the current workforce, the psychiatrist workforce will continue to contract through 2024 if no interventions are implemented, leading to a significant shortage of psychiatrists. Despite an expected workforce expansion beginning in 2025, it is unclear whether the shortage will completely resolve by 2050. Future research should focus on developing strategies to address this quantified shortage in an effort to curb the worsening shortage through 2024 and over the coming decades.
The projected shortage of physicians in the United States is garnering attention in academic circles, the media, and among health care providers. As of April 2016, the total physician shortfall is projected to be between 61,700 and 94,700 by 2025 (1). Although much attention is focused on primary care and surgical (2,3) specialties, recent data provide evidence for a significant shortage in the specialty of psychiatry. A recent, in-depth analysis of the projected shortage has not been conducted. Previous estimates of the current shortage of psychiatrists vary considerably, ranging from 2,800 (4) to 45,000 (5). To address the shortage in light of the growing U.S. population and the fact that mental illness has become the most costly condition in the United States, at $201 billion annually (6), the estimated shortage must first be quantified. In this review, our objective was to examine the current workforce of psychiatrists, provide an estimate of the projected workforce given the wide range of published estimates, and begin a discussion for addressing the workforce needs of the future.
– Anand Satiani, M.D., M.B.A., Julie Niedermier, M.D., Bhagwan Satiani, M.D., M.B.A., Dale P. Svendsen, M.D., M.S.