trist-researchers have made and continue to make contributions to patient-oriented investigations, it is not clear how many psychiatrist-researchers need to be trained to replace those who are retiring or otherwise leaving the workforce. It is also not known how many additional psychiatrist-researchers are needed given the increasing importance of mental health to the nation’s overall health. Part of the problem is in establishing a precise definition of a psychiatrist-researcher. Is a psychiatrist-researcher someone who does research 1 day a week (Pincus et al., 1995), or must research be the primary professional activity (AAMC, 2002b)? Are psychiatrist-researchers those who serve as principal investigators on federal research grants, or is it sufficient for them to serve as consultants on late-phase clinical trials? In The Crisis in Clinical Research, Ahrens (1992) argues that the latter type of research (e.g., trials of emerging drugs and devices) will readily attract capital resources, and thus particular attention should be directed to more innovative types of research that will expand our knowledge of the disease process in more complex ways. In any case, characterization of the current and desired psychiatrist-research workforce is essential to determine who should be trained and in what methods.
Determining the future need for researchers is more difficult than determining the numbers and types of current researchers. Workforce needs estimates in medicine are generally difficult to calculate. Measuring the physician workforce with regard to the projected needs of various specialties is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to do with great precision (Council of Graduate Medical Education [COGME], 2000). As recently as 1996, a serious oversupply of physicians was predicted (Knapp, 2002), but by June 2002, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) had released the following policy statement:
After reviewing the range of studies over the past several decades…the AAMC has concluded that no definitive conclusion can be drawn about the adequacy of the workforce, nor can specific recommendations be made about the rate of supply of new physicians (Knapp, 2002:1078).
A recent National Research Council (NRC) report on the training of junior biomedical and behavioral scientists calls for increasing the numbers of physician-researchers based on a relative decline in those numbers and on the following logic: