Psychiatrists rank in the lower half for physician salaries, but they out-earn Neurologists, Internal Medicine physicians and Family Medicine physicians, among others, according to Medscape’s 2018 Physician Compensation report.
Despite making less than many physicians, almost two-thirds of Psychiatrists in the survey said they feel fairly compensated. Employed and self-employed Psychiatrists have the same average salary, according to the report.
The Strain of Shortages
Communities across the United States are feeling the strain of Psychiatric shortages. In fact, more than half of U.S. counties have no Psychiatrists at all. It’s most acute in rural or poor areas that have trouble attracting the few Psychiatrists available.
The number of available psychiatric beds in the U.S. has continued to decline over the past decade. This forces ER departments to become waiting rooms for patients who need psychiatric care, causing a strain on resources that can be felt hospital-wide. The National Council for Behavioral Health says there has been a 42% increase in the number of patients going to the emergency room for psychiatric care in the past three years.
Rising Demand for Mental Health Care
At the same time, Americans are increasingly seeking mental health care as awareness grows and stigma wanes. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans has some sort of mental health condition, according to the Substance Abuse and mental Health Service Administration.
Why Psychiatrist Salaries Are Growing
As healthcare organizations compete for fewer available Psychiatrists, this group of physicians is seeing a sharp gain in pay rates. Psychiatrists’ salary average was $237,000 in 2018. Psychiatrists made 16 percent more than they did the previous year, the largest year-over-year gain among physician specialties.
We expect this trend to continue as a large portion of today’s reach retirement age. More than 60 percent of practicing physicians are over the age of 55.