Identifying Your Psychiatric Staffing Needs With These 3 Steps

by Patricia O. Urquiaga | Dec 06, 2021 | access to mental health, behavioral health, behavioral health professionals, healthcare recruiting, healthcare staffing, locum tenens, mental health, mental health behavioral staffing, mental health professionals, mental health staffing, psychiatric staffing, psychiatrists, psychiatry, psychologists, psychology, psychology staffing
Identifying Your Psychiatric Staffing Needs With These 3 Steps

Do you have a psychiatric staffing strategy in place?

How many psychiatrists does your practice need?

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for psychiatrists and other behavioral health professionals has risen and remains at an all-time high, according to the American Psychological Association.

Hiring qualified and compassionate psychiatrists and other mental health professionals is one way to ensure your practice is successful. However, pinpointing exactly what your psychiatric staffing needs are is not as simple as it sounds.

To help your psychiatry practice determine its staffing needs, here are 3 steps you can explore:

Assess Your Overall Practice

Before starting your staffing journey as a company or in partnership with a staffing expert or  physician recruiting firm, it’s imperative that your practice takes time to assess how its running operationally.

Start by asking yourself:

  • Am I content with the way our practice is currently running?
  • Are my staff and patients satisfied with the way our practice functions?

Answering these questions will help you get a better picture and understanding of how your practice is running and perceived by others. Continue to assess and analyze your practice by asking yourself other key questions we address in our in “12 questions to help identify your dental staffing needs” blog.

While this blog was written specifically for the dental industry, these 12 questions can be utilized by psychiatry hospitals, clinics, practices, and other type of mental health treatment facilities to gauge and identify what they’re psychiatric staffing needs are.

Question 1 of 12 asks about retaining the same number of employees prior to the pandemic. Understanding how your practice is running operationally is going to help you answer this question truthfully. If you need to retain the same number of employees, then ask yourself these two follow-up questions:

  • Is retaining the same number of employees enough to carry out all the work required? Or do I need to hire additional staff?
  • Are our staffing costs in line with other similar practices? Am I willing to pay more to attract and retain qualified workers?

If you struggle to find the right staffing levels (number of staff to have), you can look at industry benchmarks as a reference.

TIP: When looking at industry benchmarks, make sure to adjust those numbers based on your practice needs. As a practice, you don’t want to understaff as this can lead to decreased patient satisfaction and less revenue. But you also don’t want to overstaff as this can increase costs.

Identify The Type(s) Of Candidates Your Practice Needs

Now that you have an idea of what your psychiatry staffing needs are, you understand that additional staff may be needed for various reasons. Some of those reasons might be that you need additional staff to help:

  • Run the day-to-day operations (i.e., book and confirm appointments, educate patients about fees and treatment plans, coordinating/verifying patient insurance coverage etc.)
  • With hiring and staffing (including developing employee contracts, validating credentials/licensing/board certification etc.)
  • Market your practice
  • Manage the number of patients your practice sees daily
  • Combat burnout, stress, and the overall sense of overwhelm within your practice and more

Therefore, step 2 is to identify the type(s) of candidate your practice needs.

Start by creating a list of your ideal care team based on what you learned from your practice assessment (step 1). Your ideal care team should include a combination of primary care and behavioral health professionals. This can range from a primary care provider, clinical nurses (registered nurses, psychiatric or mental health nurse practitioners, family nurse practitioners etc.), psychologists, psychiatrists, medical assistants, licensed clinical social workers, and more. Don’t forget to also note if they are full-time, part-time, or temporary candidates.

If you are considering short-term or temporary candidates, locum tenens might be a good route to explore. Hiring locum tenens allow your practice to ensure coverage (meet the demand for services) while you’re recruiting for permanent roles. Locum tenens come in nearly all specialties – ranging from locum tenens physicians, locum tenens physician assistants, locum tenens psychiatrist, locum tenens psychologist, locum tenens clinical psychologist, locum tenens registered nurse/nurse practitioners, locum tenens clinical nurse, and more.

Keep in mind demand for locum tenens is also high, so be competitive as to what you have to offer (signing bonus, competitive salary, flexible scheduling, proper onboarding, medical malpractice insurance, relocation assistance etc.)

Define What Skill Sets And Credentials Your Practice Needs

The last step in identifying your psychiatric staffing needs involves creating a list of skill sets and credentials you are looking for.

When developing this list, make sure to be specific! Break your list down to what is a must (non-negotiable) and what is nice to have but not required (negotiable).

When doing this exercise, it’s also important to keep in mind your psychiatry practices’ culture and the type of patients you serve. So, ask yourself:

  • What does our practice culture look like (i.e., we work as a team, we offer mentoring programs, management supports psychiatrists, etc.)
  • What type of patients do we serve? Think about their:
    • Age
    • Gender
    • Ethnic background
    • Language preference
    • Socioeconomic status
    • Religion
    • Sexual orientation
    • Educational background etc.

Understanding the type of patients your practice serves will let you know if you need to hire professionals with cultural competence, and experience in addressing social determinants of health.

Remember, not every behavioral health professional is going to have the skill sets, credentials and experience you are looking for. During this step, it’s important to be flexible.

Since you already know what skill sets and credentials are negotiable and non-negotiable, use this information to evaluate all mental health candidates and then identify who you want to interview and who doesn’t make the cut.

Ready To Get Started?

If you are a mental and behavioral health professional looking for work, or a practice that needs coverage, simply fill out our form to speak with a staffing expert.


One of our specialist will reach out to you.