Demand for Psychiatrists grows while supply decreases
by Colby Robertson
MARATHON COUNTY (WAOW) -- People with psychological disorders, who have never seen a psychiatrist before could wait up to six months for that specialized care.
There's been a shortage of outpatient psychiatrists for a number of years. But, now the demand for help is much higher and there's simply not enough Psychiatrists to do the job.
Aspirus Dr. Larry Gordon, D.O. sees hundreds of patients a week. On average one out of every four or five patients he sees carries some sort of psychiatric diagnosis.
The most common depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.
Dr. Gordon says, "These are people who are not suicidal, they're not in imminent danger to anyone, but they're not doing as well as they could in society and they're having problems and it's beyond their control."
At North Central Health Care, the phones are ringing off the hook. Dr. Margaret Parsons says they see upwards of a thousand clients for psychology services and so many more waiting to get in.
Dr. Margaret Parsons says, "Overall it's frustrating that we're not able to get people in to see a psychiatrist as quickly as we'd like to and we see a lot of need out there."
It's all about supply and demand. Dr. Gordon says the decrease in Psychiatrists is greater than ever.
Dr. Gordon says, "Psychiatrists don't make a lot more than a primary care and sometimes they may make even less because of reimbursements, etc so it's very hard to attract people that field."
Plus, a lot of Psychiatrists have either left the area or retired. On the flip side, they're seeing a large increase in demand for Psychiatric care.
Dr. Gordon says, "They have other issues with the poor economy and being out of work which can lead to depression, higher divorce rates compared to 50 years ago, that makes anxiety and depression more and there's a lot more to handle in society now."
Leaders at North Central Health Care in Merrill and Wausau have just recently introduced Telepsychiatry to help with the shortage.
It's funded through a state grant and allows psychiatrists to give care to patients via tele-video.