Psychiatrist Job Description

Certified psychiatrists are medical doctors who diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Psychiatrists specialize in the area of mental health and provide counseling and medications. They often use individual or group therapy to gain insight into a patient’s past and find methods to help patients address their own problems. Psychiatrists are required to complete medical school, a residency program, and possibly a fellowship in order to sit for a board certification exam. After achieving licensure, many certified psychiatrists work in hospitals and private practices. Hours vary based on their place of work.

 

Psychiatrist Duties and Responsibilities

While the day-to-day duties of psychiatrists are determined by their discipline and patients, there are many core tasks associated with the role. Based on our analysis of job listings, these include:

Evaluate Patients

Psychiatrists perform assessments by gathering patient information with the purpose of making a diagnosis. This assessment includes social and biographical information, direct observations, and data from specific psychological tests.

Manage Patient Records

Psychiatrists keep records of patient progress with notes and reports. These records provide a measurement of progress and can inform future treatment decisions. Psychiatrists may rely on technicians to record information so that everyone on the patient’s care team has access.

Counsel Patients

Once a client’s condition has been assessed, psychiatrists use counseling methods to engage with the patient and help them cope with their particular challenges. These methods can include psychotherapy, behavior modification, crisis intervention, and potentially hospitalization.

Conduct Research

Psychiatrists conduct research about issues concerning their area of specialization. This research helps keep psychiatrists aware of the most recent and effective methods of treating patients.

Prescribe Medication

Psychiatrists often prescribe medication for their patients and routinely evaluate these prescriptions to ensure their continued efficacy.

 

Psychiatrist Skills and Qualifications

While psychiatry can be rewarding in many ways, it’s often emotionally taxing. Psychiatrists are compassionate and enjoy helping others. The ideal candidate has remarkable patience and empathy. Other skills that serve candidates well include:

  • Communication skills  effective communication skills help psychiatrists better understand their patients and build a strong bond with them
  • Attention to detail – psychiatrists need a strong level of detail to evaluate patients, record notes, and prescribe medication
  • Collaboration  in order to effectively serve clients, psychiatrists often work with a variety of parties associated with the care of each patient
  • Decision-making  psychiatrists are strong decision-makers who can accurately assess a patient’s needs, make a diagnosis, and formulate a treatment plan

 

Psychiatrist Education and Training 

Psychiatrists in the United States need a doctorate degree complemented by a four-year residency program. Once residency is completed, psychiatrists take the board certification exam to obtain a license. They are also expected to have and maintain a current Controlled Substances Registration Certificate from the Drug Enforcement Association. Other state-specific certifications may be required.

 

Psychiatrist Salary and Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists the median annual wage for psychiatrists as $216,090 per year. The number of physician and surgeon jobs, which includes psychiatrists, is expected to grow faster than most fields, increasing 15 percent by 2024.

 

Helpful Resources

There are many helpful resources available for those interested in careers as psychiatrists. Please review the links below for valuable information and the latest industry news:

Careers in Mental Health: Opportunities in Psychology, Counseling and Social Work – this book covers topics like characteristics for success, ethical issues, the importance of critical thinking, and hot topics in the field of mental health

American Medical Association – from advocacy to networking opportunities, the AMA provides support and various resources to physicians from all disciplines

Career Pathways in Psychiatry: Transition in Changing Times – given recent healthcare reform and other forces affecting the industry, it’s important that psychiatrists be aware of the various career options available within their specialty

American Psychiatric Association – the APA provides and produces a number of resources and publications from allied organizations and network members

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ – author Daniel Goleman shares striking insight into the rational and emotional minds and how they jointly shape our lives

 

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