One in five children in the US is diagnosed with a mental health disorder every year, and as is the case with so many issues, the pandemic only made matters worse. Depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorders, eating disorders, behavioral problems… when children experience these issues, parents rarely know what to do. Some may ignore it, hoping it is a passing phase, while others may seek out a therapist or a child psychologist, often to be told it will be several months before they can get an appointment. This is because the demand for mental health services far outweighs the current supply of behavioral health professionals. In Texas, for example, the statistics are staggering. There is a ratio of 10,000-to-1 children and adolescents to pediatric psychiatrists.
With limited access to mental health providers, the problems grow more severe over time. However, studies suggest that 80% of pediatric mental health problems are mild to moderate and can be treated in a primary care setting if physicians have the proper training and tools. This is the idea driving a new initiative at a Texas healthcare organization and a Jackson Physician Search client. The organization planned to launch a new pediatric primary care clinic that could evaluate and provide treatment for patients requiring specialty mental health care while also providing training and support for community pediatricians on how to evaluate and treat mild-to-moderate mental health issues in their patients.
Tasking a Trusted Partner to Find the Right Pediatrician
Such an innovative and impactful initiative would require a truly special physician leader. The organization had seen ongoing recruitment success with Jackson Physician Search over the years, hiring multiple pediatric hospitalists and outpatient pediatricians. So, when they were ready to hire a pediatrician to lead their effort, they put their trust in JPS Director of Physician Recruiting, Tonya Hamlin. Tonya would need to find a pediatrician with a strong interest and background in mental health who would be passionate about the mission.
Tonya was inspired by the initiative and eager to find the right physician for her client. However, with no defined pathway or fellowship for pediatricians specializing in mental health, Tonya knew it would be a challenge to identify the physicians most qualified for the job. Undeterred, she started with a well-crafted physician job ad that highlighted the need for a pediatrician who would “champion behavioral health.”
The ad received a positive response from pediatricians across the country, and soon, Tonya had several strong candidates to present to the client. One candidate, Dr. M, was already working in Texas, albeit in a city several hours away. In her current practice, Dr. M worked closely with a child psychiatrist, and she was excited about the opportunity to use her experience to launch this new initiative. She was familiar with the community in which the clinic would be located and the idea of helping an underserved population was also appealing.
Prioritizing Physician Recruitment
Once Tonya presented Dr. M to the client, the process moved quickly. Dr. M was invited to interview and tour the clinic, which was still under construction. They rolled out the red carpet and ensured she met all key leaders, including the psychiatrist she would be working side-by-side with at the clinic. The program was exactly what Dr. M was hoping to find, and everyone at the organization could see that Dr. M was the right physician for the job.
Tonya knew what Dr. M was earning in her current job, so she worked with the client to put together an attractive offer. The client understood the importance of making the first, best offer and followed Tonya’s advice to the letter.
“Working directly with the decision makers allowed the process to move quickly,” Tonya says. “But the number one factor in my ongoing success with this client is their commitment to prioritizing physician recruitment.”
Meeting the Mental Health Needs of Texas’ Youth
Hiring Dr. M was a critical step in the organization’s mental health initiative, and Tonya was proud to play a part in bringing her on board. The program will not only provide essential mental health services to youth in the immediate community, but Dr. M and her team will train thousands of pediatricians in Texas on assessing and treating the mental health needs of their patients across the state.
Tonya looks forward to witnessing the ongoing impact of the initiative as she continues to recruit more pediatricians for the organization.
Does your organization need a trusted partner to manage a high-priority search? Or perhaps you simply need a partner to serve as an extension of your team and take on some of the challenging tasks of physician recruitment. The Recruitment Specialists at Jackson Physician Search would love to learn more about your needs to determine if and how we can help. Contact us today.
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