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Low clinician pay leaves rural areas underserved

April 25, 2018
by Tom Valentino, Senior Editor
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A survey of mental health professionals in northeast Indiana finds that there is a shortage of qualified clinicians in rural areas because providers are unable to pay the competitive wages found in larger communities.

In a report published by Ball State University, only 5% of respondents said they felt the mental health needs of their community were being met. Just 10% said it was easy to recruit and retain mental health professionals, with non-competitive wages the most commonly cited barrier for recruitment and retention of mental health professionals (75%), with limited opportunities for professional advancement (60%) and unattractive facilities for practitioners (50%) also being common responses.

Among the other findings in the survey:

  • 77% said private healthcare facilities should play a major role in recruiting and retaining qualified practitioners.
  • Individuals in the respondents’ service area must travel at least 20 miles to access emergency mental health services, a qualified psychiatrist or a specialty hospital.
  • Less than half (45%) of respondents said they have “reasonably accurate” assessments for the number of individuals with mental illness in their service area, and only 18% say the nature and extent of mental illness in their area is well researched or know.

Based on their findings, the researchers who conducted the study recommended the use of a multi-component, healthcare system level interventions to link primary care providers and mental health specialists with patients, as well as efforts to improve strategic recruitment, retention and training of mental health professionals.


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