The State of Oklahoma’s top earners in fiscal year 2012 were all psychiatrists, and all of them were employed by the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, according to a payroll analysis by the Tulsa World.
Compensation amounts ranged between approximately $239,000 and approximately $277,000 earned by Senior Psychiatrist George Strickland, reports the paper’s Casey Smith.
So why is psychiatry the top spot for state pay? And why is that department still constantly short on psychiatrists?
For comparison, state legislators and the governor earn $38,400 and $147,000 per year, receptively. The World‘s analysis excludes higher education positions.
The psychiatrists’ compensation corresponds to the “specialized” care they provide, officials tell the paper, and the top earners are all all based in rural mental health centers or at the Oklahoma Forensic Center in small-town Vinita, the state’s largest inpatient behavioral health facility.
You have to pay psychiatrists more to live in rural Oklahoma, basically.
“You typically have a good aggregation of providers in Tulsa and Oklahoma City and the rest of the state is more difficult to recruit to,” the department’s deputy commissioner Steve Buck tells the paper.