Approximately 40 percent of all practicing psychiatrists work in private practice; many others combine private practice with work in a health care institution. These institutions include private hospitals, state mental hospitals, medical schools, community health centers, and government health agencies. Psychiatrists also work for health maintenance organizations and in nursing homes. They are employed throughout the country.
While it is still most common for geriatric psychiatrists to work either alone or as part of a group in private practice, there will likely be a growing trend for skilled nursing facilities to employ full-time psychiatrists. This serves to improve care to residents because the psychiatrist is able to form ongoing relationships with the patients as well as ongoing relationships with the staff. In addition, the psychiatrist can work closely with the staff on treatment plans and give advice or instruction on how to deal with the various challenges facing the patients.
Professional journals and organizations, such as the American Psychiatric Association and the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, can provide good job leads for beginning geriatric psychiatrists. Many doctors are offered permanent positions with the same institution where their residency was completed. Those new psychiatrists who choose to specialize in geriatrics may have an advantage because the rapidly increasing numbers of elderly people means a growing client base. In nursing homes and in general, this population is underserved and in particular need of access to psychiatric services.
In geriatric psychiatry as well as other physician specialties, advancement usually comes in the form of an increased clientele and increased earnings that result from the psychiatrist's good reputation, skills, and up-to-date knowledge. Those who work in hospitals, clinics, and mental health centers may choose to advance by becoming administrators. Other geriatric psychiatrists may be drawn to research and academia, where they may advance to become department heads.
Tips for Entry
Read American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry (http://www.ajgponline.org) to learn more about the field.
For job listings, visit:
Join the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry (AAGP), American Medical Association, American Osteopathic Association, and other professional associations to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities.
The AAGP offers mentoring programs for students, residents, and fellows. Visit http://www.aagponline.org for more information.