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Psychiatr Serv. 2011 Sep;62(9):1013-8. doi: 10.1176/

Career satisfaction of psychiatrists.

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  • 1Department of Finance and Commercial Law, Western Michigan University, 1903 West Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5429, USA.



According to recent estimates, there is a shortage of around 45,000 psychiatrists in the United States. It will be very difficult to address this problem without attracting more medical students to psychiatry and motivating the current crop of psychiatrists to see more patients and delay retirement. In this study the authors sought to identify factors that have a significant impact on the career satisfaction of psychiatrists.


Data were gathered from 314 psychiatrists who participated in the 2008 Health Tracking Physician Survey conducted by the Center for Studying Health System Change. Independent variables were grouped as practice-related factors, compensation-related factors, patient-related factors, and demographic characteristics of psychiatrists. Career satisfaction of psychiatrists was the outcome measure of this study.


Threat of malpractice and the need to consider in treatment decisions out-of-pocket cost to patients had a significant negative impact on career satisfaction. Adequate time with a patient had a significant positive impact on career satisfaction. None of the compensation-related factors was significant. Psychiatrists who worked in practices that accepted new Medicare patients reported significantly higher levels of career dissatisfaction, whereas those who worked in practices that accepted new Medicaid patients reported significantly higher levels of career satisfaction. Older psychiatrists were more satisfied than younger psychiatrists, and white, non-Hispanic psychiatrists were more satisfied than African-American or Hispanic psychiatrists.


The results of this study highlight the need for policy makers and health care administrators to develop specific strategies to increase career satisfaction, which in return may help alleviate the shortage of psychiatrists.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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