UMMC making strides to fixing Mississippi psychiatrist shortage

State News

(Photo: 12 News)

Local mental health professionals agree– Mississippians need better access to proper care.

It was a sentiment– Attorney General Jim Hood made clear this week.

Dr. Scott Rodgers, the UMMC Department Chair of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at UMMC this morning and he confirmed Hood’s statement.

Despite the shortage, he also explained that UMMC is moving in the right direction.

There are approximately three million people who live in Mississippi, and there are not nearly enough psychiatrists to go round.

“It’s a small number,” Dr. Rodgers said.

He explained that rural Mississippians have it the hardest when it comes to seeking treatment.

“For many people around the state, there’s just no one,” Dr. Rodgers said.

Part of this has to do with the lack of interest in psychiatry amongst medical students, but progress is being made.

We have seen a steady rise in the number of students in the last three to four years who are showing interest in psychiatry,” Dr. Rodgers said. “We’re also adding– in a slow and thoughtful way– we’re adding more residency training positions in our department.”

More often than not, the few medical students who do take an interest in psychiatry tend to pack up their bags and head elsewhere when they are ready to practice.

But a new incentive has been created to encourage students to stick around.

“For the first time ever because of the legislature’s work,” Dr. Rodgers said. “We are able to offer a scholarship now to a student with an interest in psychiatry who would like to stay in Mississippi and practice here.”

Dr. Rodgers said that he feels that his department has received a ton of support from Mississippians for the cause, both citizens and state officials.

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