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Community Health Network launches psychiatry residency program; New program will address shortage of psychiatrists in Indiana

For release on March 05, 2015

Indianapolis, IN—Last year, Indiana had 43 counties without a practicing psychiatrist, as the state and the nation continued to deal with a severe shortage of psychiatrists.  With an estimated one in four Hoosiers experiencing a medically diagnosable mental health condition each year, that means long wait times to get treatment from a practicing psychiatrist.  Community Health Network will address this problem by establishing a psychiatry residency program in 2016 that will utilize Community’s broad continuum of behavioral health services to train the next generation of psychiatrists.  It will be only the second psychiatry residency program offered in the state of Indiana.

“Based on the state’s population, there should be 650 psychiatrists in Indiana, but in 2013 that number was down to 356,”said Bryan Mills, president and CEO of Community Health Network.  “This comes at a time when Indiana communities are seeing an increase in individuals needing mental health treatment. We think our new psychiatry residency program will begin to address this shortage issue.”

Community Health Network received approval to be a multi-specialty sponsoring institution for Graduate Medical Education 2012. The network already has four medical residency programs (family medicine, family medicine osteopathic, podiatry, and proctology). Community’s psychiatry residency program received accreditation in February by The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) to accept learners through The National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP®), and will begin recruiting for the first class that begins July 1, 2016.  The program will have four openings per year, for four years, and will focus on a continuum of care model that treats patients based on individual needs, covering a range of mental illnesses, including the most severe. 

“With the tremendous advances in neuroscience, and the fact that many thousands of uninsured Hoosiers now have mental health coverage, we need a robust psychiatric and mental health workforce in Indiana to meet the demand,” said John J. Wernert, M.D., secretary of Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration, the first psychiatrist to hold that position. “Lack of growth and the aging of our psychiatric physicians raise concerns and may have serious implications on the mental health workforce capacity in Indiana.  Psychiatrists function as team leaders and integrated consultants in many medical settings, and are one of the few clinicians with the authority to prescribe and oversee medicine therapy.  Shortages in this profession have a direct, trickle-down effect on the supply of mental health services in Indiana.”

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Task Force on Workforce Needs recently identified a number of issues which can be barriers to maintaining an appropriate number of psychiatrists, including inadequate support in academic institutions; decreasing Graduate Medical Education (GME) funding; decreasing clinical revenues in the managed care environment; and a devalued image of the profession.

According to research published in the Indiana Economic Digest, only six medical school students in Indiana enter into a psychiatry residency program each year.  Community's residency program will offer an alternative model for the practice of psychiatry, which allows residents to work closely with primary care physicians and clinics and serve as consultants for their patients who may have developing mental health issues.

“One important goal of the new residency program is to train community-based psychiatrists who have the skills to work in an integrated fashion with primary care providers,” said Frank Covington, M.D., medical director for Community Health Network’s behavioral health product line. “The residency program will offer a very broad array of mental health learning experiences.”

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 60 percent of adults and nearly 50 percent of youth, ages 8 to 15, received no mental health services for their mental illness last year.

About Community Health Network
Ranked among the nation’s most integrated healthcare systems, Community Health Network is Central Indiana’s leader in providing convenient access to exceptional healthcare services, where and when patients need them—in hospitals, health pavilions and doctor’s offices, as well as workplaces, schools and homes.  As a non-profit health system with over 200 sites of care and affiliates throughout Central Indiana, Community’s full continuum of care integrates hundreds of physicians, specialty and acute care hospitals, surgery centers, home care services, MedChecks, behavioral health and employer health services.  To learn more, visit eCommunity.com or call 800-777-7775.


Lynda de Widt, Media Relations
Lynda de Widt
Media Relations