Psychiatrists

An estimated 3,131 psychiatrists were working in Australia in 2015, representing 3.5% of all employed medical practitioners and 10.0% of all specialist employed medical practitioners (AIHW 2016).

Psychiatric workforce by state and territory

At a national level, there were 12.7 FTE psychiatrists per 100,000 population working in Australia in 2015. Rates ranged from 7.3 per 100,000 population in the Northern Territory to 14.7 in South Australia. In terms of time spent as a clinician, there were 10.5 clinical FTE per 100,000 population in Australia in 2015. The clinical FTE rates ranged from 5.8 per 100,000 in the Northern Territory to 12.0 in South Australia (Figure WK.1).

Figure WK.1: Psychiatrists, FTE and clinical FTE per 100,000 population, states and territories, 2015

Clustered bar chart showing the number of FTE and clinical FTE psychiatrists per 100,000 population by state or territory in 2015. SA had the highest number of FTE and clinical FTE psychiatrists (14.7 and 12.0 per 100,000 population), followed by Vic (13.9 and 11.5), ACT (12.8 and 10.2), Qld (12.7 and 10.8), NSW (12.2 and 10.0), WA (10.6 and 8.6), Tas (10.5 and 8.7) and NT (7.3 and 5.8). The total was 12.7 FTE and 10.5 clinical FTE psychiatrists. Refer to table WK.3.

Source: NHWDS: medical practitioners 2015.

Source data: Mental Health Workforce Table WK.3 (1.54MB XLS)

Remoteness area

Almost 9 out of 10 FTE psychiatrists (88.1%) were employed in Major cities in 2015. There were 15.8 FTE per 100,000 population in Major cities, 5.6 in both Inner regional and Remote areas, 4.3 in Outer regional and 2.1 in Very remote areas (Figure WK.2).

Figure WK.2: Psychiatrists, FTE and clinical FTE per 100,000 population by remoteness area, 2015

Clustered bar chart showing the number of FTE and clinical FTE psychiatrists by remoteness area in 2015. Major cities had the highest number of FTE and clinical FTE psychiatrists per 100,000 population (15.8 and 13.0), followed by Remote (5.6 and 4.9), Inner regional (5.6 and 4.8), Outer regional (4.3 and 3.6) and Very remote areas (2.1 and 1.9). Refer to table WK.4.

Source: NHWDS: medical practitioners 2015.

Source data: Mental Health Workforce Table WK.4 (1.54MB XLS)

Hours worked per week

Psychiatrists reported working an average of 38.5 total hours and 31.8 clinical hours per week in 2015. Average total hours ranged from 36.9 hours per week for Victorian psychiatrists to 40.6 for Queensland psychiatrists (Figure WK.3). Average clinical hours ranged from 30.4 hours for Victorian psychiatrists to 34.3 hours for Queensland psychiatrists.

Figure WK.3: Employed psychiatrists, average total hours and clinical hours worked per week, states and territories, 2015

Clustered bar chart showing psychiatrists’ reported average total and clinical hours worked per week by state or territory in 2015. Psychiatrists in Qld had the highest average total and clinical hours at 40.6 total hours and 34.3 clinical hours, followed by NT (39.8 and 31.6), WA (39.4 and 32.0), ACT (39.2 and 31.3), NSW (38.8 and 31.9), SA (37.6 and 30.7), Tas (37.4 and 31.2) and Vic (36.9 and 30.4). The national average was 38.5 total hours and 31.8 clinical hours. Refer to table WK.3.

Source: NHWDS: medical practitioners 2015.

Source data: Mental Health Workforce Table WK.3 (1.54MB XLS)


On average, male psychiatrists worked 6.9 total hours and 6.1 clinical hours more per week than female psychiatrists (Table WK.2). Psychiatrists employed in Very remote and Remote areas reported on average working the highest number of total hours (43.2 and 42.6 total hours respectively) and clinical hours per week (37.5 and 36.9 clinical hours respectively). Employed psychiatrists working in the 2 most remote area categories reported on average working 4–6 hours more total and clinical hours than the national average.

Characteristics

In 2015, just over 7 in 10 psychiatrists were aged 45 and over (73.2%); over 4 in 10 (43.9%) were aged 55 and over and nearly 2 in 10 employed psychiatrists (18.6%) were aged 65 and over.

In 2015, almost two-thirds of employed psychiatrists (62.3%) were male, compared to males comprising 7 in 10 of all medical specialists (70.2%) (AIHW 2016).

Over time

Nationally, the supply of psychiatrists was relatively stable between 2013 and 2015 (around 12.5 FTE per 100,000). Note that FTE figures for medical practitioners from 2013, including psychiatrists, are based on a 40–hour standard working week; FTE figures prior to 2013 were based on a 38 hour working week. Therefore, FTE figures from 2013 onwards cannot be compared directly with FTE figures prior to 2013.

The age profile of psychiatrists has remained relatively stable over the 5 years to 2015; just over 7 in 10 psychiatrists were aged 45 and over between 2011 and 2015. The average hours worked per week was relatively stable, at around 39 hours per week. Since 2011, the average total hours worked per week by females has remained stable and was consistently lower than that of males (around 34 hours compared to 41 hours).

Nationally, the proportion of psychiatrists who were female has increased incrementally over the past 5 years, rising from 34.7% in 2011 to 37.7% in 2015 (Figure WK.4).

Figure WK.4: Proportion of employed psychiatrists, by sex, 2011–2015

Line chart showing the proportion of employed psychiatrists by sex from 2011–2015. The proportion of employed female psychiatrists has increased each year from 2011 (34.7%25), 2012 (35.3%25), 2013 (36.6%25), 2014 (37.0%25), to 2015 (37.7%25). Refer to Table WK.1

Source: NHWDS: medical practitioners 2015.

Source data: Mental Health Workforce Table WK.1 (1.54MB XLS)

Work characteristics

Just over 9 in 10 (92.4%) FTE psychiatrists reported their principal area of work to be clinician, followed by administrator (3.5%), researcher (2.1%) and then teacher or educator (1.2%). The most common work setting was private practice (46.7%), followed by hospitals (excluding outpatient services) (25.4%), and community mental health care services (17.2%).