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Merritt Hawkins: Psychiatrists in demand

July 02 2010

Demand for psychiatrists is growing faster than for other medical specialties, according to Merritt Hawkins, the physician search division of AMN Healthcare Services Inc. (NYSE: AHS).

The company noted 179 requests for psychiatrists between April 1, 2009, and March 31, 2010 -- up 47% from the previous year and up 121% from three years ago.

"When the economy goes down, mental health problems tend do go up," said Merritt Hawkins President Mark Smith. "But there is more to the rising demand for psychiatrists than the recession. A combination of factors is driving a psychiatrist shortage that could soon reach crisis levels."

More than half of all psychiatrists are 55 or older and nearing retirement age while fewer medical school graduates are showing an interest in psychiatry, according to Merritt Hawkins. Meanwhile, demand for psychiatric services is expected to increase by 19% from 1995 to 2020.

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