Psychiatrist - How to Become a Psychiatrist

Psychiatrist

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Psychiatrist Job Description

 

A psychiatrist is a physician who is specially trained in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses. While the field of psychiatry has traditionally been associated with psychoanalysis, most psychiatrists today offer a variety of services, including treatments tailored to the specific biological, psychotherapeutic and psychosocial needs of their patients. Psychiatrists are generally considered the medical experts for the interface of mind, brain and body.

Mental illness is like other medical conditions; it can range from relatively mild to simple or complex self-limiting conditions to life-threatening, severe disorders. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates approximately 18.6 percent of adults ages 18 and older in the U.S. have conditions that could be diagnosable as mental illness. That’s the equivalent of 43.7 million adults.

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Responsibilities

 

Psychiatry is one of the oldest medical specialty fields. It is constantly evolving as new discoveries are uncovered through research on the brain. Recent neuroscience advances have led to important new technologies used in the diagnosis and treatment of a multitude of mental disorders. Brain imaging and new pharmaceuticals, among other emerging innovations, have led to the development of mental illness treatments that are as effective as treatments in other medical specialties.

Psychiatrists are responsible for analyzing a patient's mental health status and providing the necessary treatment. There responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Diagnosing mental issues

  • Developing treatment plans

  • Admitting patients to hospitals

  • Ordering tests or examinations

  • Prescribing medications and other treatments

  • Recommending therapies

Additionally, they have assessment sessions with their patients to gauge responses to treatment and determine mental disorders.  

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Skills

 

Psychiatrists must be able to engage with people and use their medical expertise to make a comprehensive assessment of patients. They combine medication along with therapy sessions to develop treatment plans and help people overcome mental disorders.

Their skills include the following: 

Reasoning

Psychiatrists must be able to apply facts and principles to issues to determine conclusions and solve problems. They must use knowledge and logic to find patters in happenings and determine causes and provide solutions.

Communication

Psychiatrists must be able to clearly convey thoughts and ideas to gauge patient issues. They must also be great listeners and ask questions that involve the patient and make the environment open and relaxed.

Empathy

Must be very compassionate and able to empathize with a patient's pain and other difficulties. They are able to make people feel comfortable and meet them at their emotional level to humanize themselves and let people know they care.

Stress Management

Must be emotionally stable and deal with stress effectively, so they can help others who cannot deal with their emotions or stress. Must be a solid foundation and be able to handle stress and separate personal emotion so as to stay objective and be effective in treatment.

Ethics

Psychiatrists must have a solid ethical code and keep sessions with patients confidential as they can greatly affect people's lives. Must know that there could be consequences for error.

Open-Mindedness

Psychiatrists interact with a range of people from all walks of life, therefore they must be open-minded and tolerant of different cultures and circumstances. Since they are in a research field, they must be open to new studies and findings as to adapt with changing times.

Trustworthiness

People have to trust their psychiatrist. The job is all about inspiring patients to confide in you and trust you with their problems. If you aren't trustworthy, you will never make it as a Psychiatrist.

Patience

Psychiatrists need to be very patient because of the long sessions with patients and while conducting the required research to become a better professional. They must understand it takes time to see results and be willing to put in that time.

Perception

Psychiatrists must be able to gauge how people react and read their body language to decipher their feelings and predict their actions. They must be able to determine if people could be a risk to themselves or others and to distinguish truths from lies.

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Working Conditions

 

An average workweek for a psychiatrist is generally around 48 hours. Activities required in any given week may include administrative duties, teaching responsibilities, consultation with clients and colleagues and research. Most psychiatrists, however, spend over 60 percent of their time working directly with patients.

Two-thirds of these patients are generally seen on an outpatient basis while the rest are seen in a hospital setting. In recent years, partial hospital or day programs and community and residential programs have grown in popularity. Psychiatric hospitalization has become more focused, more intense, with a much shorter duration that seen in previous years.

A psychiatrist may work in a private practice or a group association much the way other physicians do. Psychiatrists can also be found practicing in the public sector, such as in Veteran's Administration facilities or state hospitals. Some work in community mental health centers that are set up for the clientele unique to psychiatry. Other settings where a psychiatric practice may flourish include medical schools, general hospitals and HMOs and specialized psychiatric hospitals.

 


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How to Become a Psychiatrist:

 

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)

 

To become a psychiatrist, you must first earn a bachelor's degree. It would be a good idea to take a premed program course in college, or a path in physical science or psychology. The courses differ depending on which path you choose, but some of the courses are the same, mainly the math, sciences, and some psychology courses. You need to make sure you get the proper prerequisites for medical school.

A course load for premed might look like the following: 

 

Grade Level Example Courses

Freshman Year

 

  • General Chemistry I & Lab
  • General Chemistry II & Lab
  • Biology & Lab
  • Calculus I
  • English 101
  • English 102
  • Humanities Requirement
  • Physics I & Lab
  • Physics II & Lab

Sophomore Year

  • Organic Chemistry I & Lab
  • Organic Chemistry II & Lab
  • Fundamentals of Microbiology & Lab
  • Genetics
  • Physiology 
  • Humanities Requirement
  • Electives

Junior Year

 

  • Cell Structure & Function
  • General Virology & Lab
  • Microbial Genetics & Lab
  • Biochemistry I
  • Biochemistry II
  • Physics
  • Electives

Senior Year

  • Upper Level Biology
  • Upper Level Chemistry
  • Upper Level Physics
  • Upper Level Psychology
  • Upper Level Kinesiology 
  • Electives

 

Be sure to keep your grads high, as medical school admissions are very competitive. You need to start prepping for the MCAT as well, because you need to take it to advance.

 

2. Take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)

 

To be admitted into medical school, candidates must first take the MCAT, or Medical College Admission Test, a 7.5 hour, standardized, multiple choice exam used to assess the applicant's knowledge of science, reasoning, communication, and writing skills. 

 

The MCAT is divided into four sections:

 

Section/Category  Section Breakdown
Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95 minutes
  • Tests biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and biochemistry
Chemical & Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95 minutes
  • Tests biochemistry, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics

Psychological, Social, & Biological Foundations of Behavior

  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95 minutes
  • Tests introductory psychology, sociology, and biology
Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills
  • 53 multiple-choice questions
  • 90 minutes
  • Tests reading comprehension, humanities, and social sciences

 

You can find study materials, MCAT registration, and your test scores on the AAMC website here.

 

3. Earn a Medical Degree (4 Years)

 

You have two program choices in medical school to become a Psychiatrist: a Doctor of Medicine (MD) program or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) program. Each degree focuses on the same methods of treatment, but a DO degree also focuses on osteopathic manipulative medicine. Whichever path you choose, you are facing 4-5 years in medical school.

Your first couple of years will focus on the following:

  • Basic pathology
  • Anatomy
  • Biology
  • Other life sciences

In the second half of the program, you will work with doctors and other healthcare professionals to advance your skills and focus in on psychiatric practice. You can also participate in research programs, if you get the invitation. You can expect to take the following courses to become a Psychiatrist:

  • Behavioral science
  • Psychopathology
  • Psychiatry clerkship

 

4. Complete a Residency Program (4 Years)

 

After medical school, you have to complete your residency. During this time, you will be supervised by other healthcare professionals and get hands on training to build upon your skills and confidence, to allow you independent practice. During your residency, you can expect to work from anywhere to three to eight years in a clinical or hospital setting. It's here you can really hone in on your skills and build upon your knowledge. 

Included throughout the residency are the following introductory clinical experiences:

  • Community psychiatry and community health
  • Child psychiatry
  • Geriatric psychiatry
  • Forensic psychiatry
  • Substance abuse
  • Consultation and liaison programs

When the fellowship is completed, the Psychiatrist earns certificates of added qualification in one of the following areas of practice:

  • Geriatric psychiatry
  • Child and adolescent psychiatry
  • Addiction psychiatry
  • Psychosomatic medicine
  • Forensic psychiatry

 

5. Earn the Required License & Certification

 

After you complete your residency you have to apply for your medical license and board certification.  If you graduate from a MD program, you can take the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). If you graduate from a DO program, you can take the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA)

Once you get your medical license, you can take the the Examination for Board Certification through the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN). The ABPN is also the issuing body for Certifications in Psychiatric Subspecialties. You can take the test as many times as you need, but once you have your certification, you must renew it every ten years. 

 

6. Maintain Certification Through Continue Education

 

After all the school, training, tests, and time, you have to earn continuing education credits to maintain your certification as a Psychiatrist. It usually takes about 30 continuing education credits per year. Some states require even more, you just have to check with your state to determine what the regulations are. 

 

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Salary Outlook

Title Company Location Posted
12.05.2016
The Psychiatrist contributes to the goals and objectives of the Midtown Mental Health Center and Eskeanzi Health through the roles of clinician, leader, educator, reviewer and scholar while conducting self in a professional and ethical manner....
12.05.2016
Doctorate Seeking Psychiatrist to provide intermittent weekend coverage in Pinehurst, NC. Service provision at our 30-bed inpatient unit. This hospital employed position offers competitive pay and malpractice coverage. Must have completed an...
12.08.2016
As a Psychiatrist, you will be responsible for the following major duties to include, but not limited to: 1. Provides psychiatric care to Veterans served within the Mental Health Service Line. 2. Completes assessments in a timely manner....
12.05.2016
Doctorate Seeking Psychiatrist to join the staff at our flagship campus in Pinehurst, NC. Experienced and collaborative patient care team includes 5 psychiatrists and 1 nurse practitioner. Blend of outpatient and inpatient responsibilities....
12.05.2016
Qualified Psychiatrist for RiverBend Medical Group.
03.22.2016
Seeking Staff Psychiatrist part-time or 3 months to one year contract commitment with the opportunity to extend contract to full time. Must have Minimum of a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) degree. Active and unrestricted...
12.05.2016
Provides psychiatric evaluations, medication management, and follow-up care for patients on the Inpatient Substance Abuse/Acute Treatment Services unit at Providence Behavioral Health Hospital (PBHH) and assists in providing psychiatric and...
12.05.2016
Virginia Hospital Center Named One of the Nation's 100 Top Hospitals has a full time opportunity within our Psychiatric & Addictions Services Department for a Psychiatrist. The position will offer a broad range of responsibilities practicing...
12.05.2016
Virginia Hospital Center has a full time opportunity within our Psychiatric & Addictions Services Department for a Psychiatrist. The position will offer a broad range of responsibilities practicing within an inpatient setting and...
12.05.2016
The Psychiatrist provides direct patient care in the area of mental health. Adheres to National Patient Safety Goals as appropriate based on the level of patient contact this position requires. INTEGRIS Health is an Equal...
12.05.2016
PHYSICIAN-Psychiatrist, Duluth, MN Essentia Health, headquartered in Duluth, Minn., is an integrated health system serving patients in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Idaho. Essentia began fully integrating operations in the summer of...
12.05.2016
- Licensure Required - Experience is preferred This is an outstanding opportunity to join a collegial team of physicians in a well-organized, well-supported, physician-led practice. This full time position offers: - A competitive...
12.05.2016
Provides professional services to patients consistent with current standards of psychiatry, including initial evaluations and treatment, referral and use of other specialists and ancillary services, ongoing evaluations and appropriate delivery of...
12.05.2016
CLINICAL TRACK GERIATRIC PSYCHIATRIST - DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHIATRY The Department of Psychiatry in the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) is seeking a Geriatric Psychiatrist to join...
12.07.2016
The Psychiatrist-Adult provides psychiatric medical care. Responsibilities: Performs psychiatric medical treatment and case management of acute patient populations. Prescribes, directs, and administers psychotherapeutic treatments or...
  1. Psychiatrist Indianapolis, IN Eskenazi Health
    The Psychiatrist contributes to the goals and objectives of the Midtown Mental Health Center and Eskeanzi Health through the roles of clinician, leader, educator, reviewer and scholar while conducting self in a professional and ethical manner....
  2. Psychiatrist Pinehurst, NC FirstHealth of the Carolinas
    Doctorate Seeking Psychiatrist to provide intermittent weekend coverage in Pinehurst, NC. Service provision at our 30-bed inpatient unit. This hospital employed position offers competitive pay and malpractice coverage. Must have completed an...
  3. Psychiatrist Des Moines, IA VA Central Iowa Health Care System
    As a Psychiatrist, you will be responsible for the following major duties to include, but not limited to: 1. Provides psychiatric care to Veterans served within the Mental Health Service Line. 2. Completes assessments in a timely manner....
  4. Psychiatrist Pinehurst, NC FirstHealth of the Carolinas
    Doctorate Seeking Psychiatrist to join the staff at our flagship campus in Pinehurst, NC. Experienced and collaborative patient care team includes 5 psychiatrists and 1 nurse practitioner. Blend of outpatient and inpatient responsibilities....
  5. PSYCHIATRIST-RBMG Springfield, MA Sisters of Providence Health System
    Qualified Psychiatrist for RiverBend Medical Group.
  6. Staff Psychiatrist Jackson, MS Canopy Children's Solutions
    Seeking Staff Psychiatrist part-time or 3 months to one year contract commitment with the opportunity to extend contract to full time. Must have Minimum of a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) degree. Active and unrestricted...
  7. Psychiatrist-ProvH Springfield, MA Sisters of Providence Health System
    Provides psychiatric evaluations, medication management, and follow-up care for patients on the Inpatient Substance Abuse/Acute Treatment Services unit at Providence Behavioral Health Hospital (PBHH) and assists in providing psychiatric and...
  8. Physician, Psychiatrist Arlington, VA Virginia Hospital Center
    Virginia Hospital Center Named One of the Nation's 100 Top Hospitals has a full time opportunity within our Psychiatric & Addictions Services Department for a Psychiatrist. The position will offer a broad range of responsibilities practicing...
  9. Physician, Psychiatrist Arlington, VA Virginia Hospital Center
    Virginia Hospital Center has a full time opportunity within our Psychiatric & Addictions Services Department for a Psychiatrist. The position will offer a broad range of responsibilities practicing within an inpatient setting and...
  10. Adult Psychiatrist Oklahoma City, OK INTEGRIS Health
    The Psychiatrist provides direct patient care in the area of mental health. Adheres to National Patient Safety Goals as appropriate based on the level of patient contact this position requires. INTEGRIS Health is an Equal...
  11. PHYSICIAN-Psychiatrist, Duluth, MN Duluth, MN Essentia Health
    PHYSICIAN-Psychiatrist, Duluth, MN Essentia Health, headquartered in Duluth, Minn., is an integrated health system serving patients in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Idaho. Essentia began fully integrating operations in the summer of...
  12. Psychiatrist Baton Rouge, LA Baton Rouge General Medical Center
    - Licensure Required - Experience is preferred This is an outstanding opportunity to join a collegial team of physicians in a well-organized, well-supported, physician-led practice. This full time position offers: - A competitive...
  13. Psychiatrist Willmar, MN Rice Memorial Hospital
    Provides professional services to patients consistent with current standards of psychiatry, including initial evaluations and treatment, referral and use of other specialists and ancillary services, ongoing evaluations and appropriate delivery of...
  14. GERIATRIC PSYCHIATRIST- DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHIATRY Iowa City, IA University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
    CLINICAL TRACK GERIATRIC PSYCHIATRIST - DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHIATRY The Department of Psychiatry in the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) is seeking a Geriatric Psychiatrist to join...
  15. Psychiatrist-Adult/ Lourdes Counseling Center/ FT Days/ 40 Hours Weekly Pasco, WA Lourdes Health Network
    The Psychiatrist-Adult provides psychiatric medical care. Responsibilities: Performs psychiatric medical treatment and case management of acute patient populations. Prescribes, directs, and administers psychotherapeutic treatments or...