By Stephanie Steinberg, USA TODAY

A national physician recruiting firm says the demand for psychiatrists is climbing faster than for any other medical specialty.

From April 2009 to March 2010, the company Merritt Hawkins received 179 requests for psychiatrists — a 47% increase from the previous year and 121% increase from the 2006-2007 survey.

The firm, which tracked more than 2,800 physician requests, found that psychiatrists were the third-most-requested physician. Family practice doctors were the most requested, followed by internists, but the number of requests for both those specialties decreased from the previous year.

Though demand is growing, fewer medical students are entering careers in psychiatry. Health officials say the field garners little interest because psychiatrists earn less than other specialties, even though they spend the same amount of time in medical training.

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