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How to Become a Psychiatrist – A Complete Guide

Do you want to learn what it takes to become a psychiatrist? If YES, here is a complete guide plus requirements needed to become a psychiatrist online.

Human needs are insatiable and that is the major reason why people are striving hard to engage themselves with one profession or the other, not even minding the task required by the profession. They just want a job they will do, so as to be able to cater for their needs and that of their families.

Some professions require expertise and a very sound knowledge before those on its path can practice such profession, while others require self-discipline, patience and utmost dedication, before those practicing it could succeed and make a good living.

However, the job of a psychiatrist is one of the few professions that is herculean to practice, as it demands for lots of things from its practitioner. Apart from the fact that the profession requires the practitioner to have a sound knowledge to make him expert in the field, the profession is also a time consuming job that demands a lot of patience, dedication and self-discipline from those indulging in it. This is simply because of the fact that the profession is one that solely requires the practitioner to relate with those who suffer from one mental problem or the other.

Although the job might seem to be very challenging and cumbersome , but the profession is a glorious and promising profession for people who have the intellectual ability, patience and are ready to dedicate themselves in helping humans that are suffering from any form of mental challenge.

Being a professional psychiatrist is a very nice and interesting career to follow, but one needs to take his time in knowing everything about what the profession really entails.

What is a Psychiatrist?

Psychiatrists are no other persons than people who are professionals in the medical field of diagnosing and treating people that are suffering from any form of mental illness. A psychiatrist is a professional medical doctor or physician that specializes in the treatment of people that have mental, addictive or emotional disorders.

Psychiatrists are often regarded as professionals and masters of many trades, just because they have distinguished themselves by having knowledge of many independent professions. A psychiatrist is someone that has mastered and is trained in medical, psychological, social, emotional, behavioral and mental disorders and they have the knowledge of how to diagnose and treat people that are suffering from any of these predicaments.

They do this by using treatment modalities that entails diagnostic test, medications prescribing, psychotherapy and helping their patient together with their families manage stress and crisis that might want to evolve.

The work of a psychiatrist is a very challenging job, especially when the practitioner is dealing with a patient who might be controversial, uncooperative, stubborn or even violent and that is the major reason why a psychiatrist needs to be very patient when dealing with his patients. The fact is that most patients who suffer from one mental disorder or another are always violent and that is why their site of treatment is always situated in a place far from where normal human beings are.

Unlike some other professions, the profession of a psychiatrist requires the practitioner to get licensed by registering with the state or country where he will be practicing, before he could start his work in such state. In most cases, psychiatrists are always enjoined to pass an examination before getting licensed.

For example; any psychiatrist that wants practice in the United State of America must register with some major psychiatrists association like, the American Psychiatric Association (APA), and before doing so, he will be required to pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination before getting a full license.

Duties of a Psychiatrist and their Job Description

After getting licensed, a psychiatrist has several choices of where to work at. He might decide to apply for job in a hospital, work in a psychiatric clinic or open his own private clinic for psychiatric works. However, either a psychiatrist is working in a hospital or working independently in his own clinic, he has some obligatory functions and roles he must always engage in.

Below are some of the major functions and responsibilities of a psychiatrist:

a. Gathering Information-: The first and the major function a psychiatrist performs in a mental healthcare is to gather information about the client. He will try various means of obtaining valid and useful information about the patient, even if the patient is suffering from severe mental trauma that he may not be able to answer questions- he will go ahead to get the needed information from close associates of the patient.

A psychiatrist will need to get bio data information, clinical information and all other information that will aid his work, before performing any work on the patient. Obtaining pre-requisite information about a patient often go a long way in making the psychiatrist performs his work easier and faster. For instance, if a psychiatrist gets information that a patient is suffering from emotional trauma, he won’t have to waste his time testing for the cause of the patient’s mental illness.

b. Analysis-: The next thing a psychiatrist does after gathering all necessary information needed about his patient is to analyze and evaluate from all the data collected from every appropriate quota about the patient. And it is after this analysis that he would be able to diagnose and identify the exact causative of his patient’s illness. The psychiatrist will analyze the patient’s medical data and his timely activities, as it will go a long way in assisting him to get factual information he might need in the course of identify, diagnosing and treating the patient.

c. Identification-: After a psychiatrist has analyzed and has gathered enough information about the source of a patient’s illness, it is from there that he will be able to identify the exact problem the patient is suffering from. During this identification process, the psychiatrist will categorize and estimate necessary information about the client, as this will help him to recognize the differences and similarities in his numerous hypothesis.

The psychiatrist will detect changes in the patient’s environment, body language variations and will able to diagnose and identify the exact illness the client is suffering from. It is in the aspect that the psychiatrist will also be able to identify if the patient is suffering from physical, emotional or mental disorder. Another method a psychiatrist uses in examining and identifying the exact problem his patient is having is by conducting laboratory and diagnostic test on the patient. It is very important a psychiatrist identifies the exact illness troubling his patient before treating him.

d. Treatment-: This is the process that comes shortly after identifying and confirming the exact problem a psychiatrist patient is suffering from. This is a stage where the psychiatrist will use various means to heal his patient from any form of illness troubling him- even if it requires him to employ the services of other experts both within and outside his field of practice. He will design various care plans for his individual patients and use varieties of treatment methods.

If the psychiatrist cannot handle the case of his patient effectively, he will collaborate with physicians, psychologists, social workers, nurses and any other professionals that might be relevant to the healthiness of his client. If a patient doesn’t need treatment, there wouldn’t be a need for patronizing a psychiatrist and that is why treating is the most important duty a psychiatrist carries out a mental care center.

e. Counseling-: After a psychiatrist have succeeded in treating his client of whatever mental illness he was suffering from, the next vital duty he will do is to counsel the patient. A psychiatrist needs to counsel the patient, so that the patient wouldn’t suffer from another greater illness like depression. He can schedule his time for the patient to come for subsequent counsel apart from the one he gave when discharging the client.

Nowadays, we see cases of psychiatric patients dying as a result of depression, isolation and stigmatization and that is the major reason why it is very important for a psychiatrist to continuing counseling the patients, during and after his illness. He will also need to advise or inform relatives and guardians of his patient of the need to pay attention on the patient, as they can also help in counseling the patient in their various homes.

f. Education-: Apart from the fundamental roles of a psychiatrist listed above, a psychiatrist also needs to teach and educate people in the community about everything they need to know about mental illnesses. Mental illness is a critical illness people must be wary of and that is why it is expected of a professional psychiatrist to educate and advise people in his locality about it.

A psychiatrist needs to let the people in his environmental know the causes of mental illness like drugs, he need to let them know that they need to stay away from consumption of some hard drugs like codeine, cocaine, Indian hemps and the likes, as they can cause mental illness.

Tools of the Trade for a Psychiatrist

Every profession in this world has one tool or another for carrying out the work effectively. Therefore, a psychiatrist also has some basic tools he must possess before he could be certify as a professional one. Although, a psychiatrist induce more of tests as tools to solve the problems of the patient but here are few out of the limited edible tools a psychiatrist can handle in treating the patient:

  • Writing Materials-: The first major equipment a psychiatrist uses in his mental healthcare is his writing materials, which are pen and paper. A psychiatrist needs the writing materials to collect the patient’s data and to jot down the patient’s timely response to drugs and treatment.

It is mandatory for a psychiatrist to keenly watch the development and attitude of his patient and he can perfectly do so by writing it down and that is why the writing materials are important and must always be in the custody of a psychiatrist.

  • Recorders: Recorders in this contest means equipment that are used in recording both audio and visual things. A psychiatrist in a bid to concentrate and fully watch his patient, he will need to employ the service of recorders, which are majorly the visual and audio recorders.

He needs visual equipment like a tape recorder for recording the patient’s voice and a clear visual recorder like a digital camera for recording the doings of the patient. Since the work of a psychiatrist majorly deals with watching and taking care of the behaviors of mentally challenged people, he will employ the service of recorders for active watch of the patient.

  • Questionnaires-: There is need for a psychiatrist to design questionnaires for his patient, as this will serve as a timely feedback to the psychiatrist. It is through these questionnaires, that a psychiatrist can perform several tests.

However, there are diverse topics and issues a psychiatrist can base his questionnaires on. For instance; a psychiatrist can use a questionnaire to test for his patient’s excitement level by setting questions that are within that context.

  • Books-: Humans are beings with various characters and attitudes that are difficult to quantify and they even get more complicated when they are suffering from one mental challenge or the other and that is why a psychiatrist must always lay his hand on lots of books that are based on human attitudes, feelings, behaviors and perceptions. It is by reading books that psychologist can perfectly get to know the behaviors and attitudes of humans and not until a psychiatrist necessarily have degrees in psychologist courses.

It is very important a psychiatrist give or prescribe some books for his patient, as it will aid the treatment and recovery of the patient. A psychiatrist can actually prescribe books that would add values to the lives of his patients- for example, he can prescribe books that would handle the case of a patient suffering from depression by giving him books that would make him happy and forget his worries.

How to Become a Psychiatrist – A Complete Guide

Labor Market Situation for a Psychiatrist

According to the National Bureau of Labor statistics, the demand for psychiatrist experts is expected to spur at a rate faster than the average through the next decade due to the increase in the demand for professional mental health expertise, coupled with the increase in the number of mentally impaired people.

Pursuing the path of becoming a psychiatrist might be difficult, with years to spend before getting certified, but there is tendency of securing a good job with sumptuous salary later on.

Impact of the Internet and Technology on the Profession of a Psychiatrist

As in any areas of flourishing professions, the internet has thrived and positively impacted the profession of a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist can sit in a corner at his place of work and access various information and innovations that would be helpful for him and his patient.

The internet provides free and non- fee mental health care to people that can access it. Some psychiatrists now even direct their patient to indulge fully in the use of internet for self-medication and guide to some mental illness like depression.

Professional Bodies and Associations for Psychiatrists

This is always a need to register with a regulatory body when you are practicing a profession; even a business that requires little or no formal education also have a regulatory body. Here are some of the professional bodies and association you will need to be part of before you could be pronounced as a licensed one to practice as a professional psychiatrists.

  • Royal College of Psychiatrists
  • Mental Health Nurses Practitioners
  • Psychiatric Nurses Association
  • American Psychiatric Association
  • American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
  • American Osteopathic Board of Neurology and Psychiatry.

Career ideas/Sub-sectors That Exist Within the Psychiatric Profession

The career of a psychiatrist is veraciously serving as a source of living for many people and this is because of the welcoming market and demand for psychiatrists. However, here are some career prospects for a psychiatrist to focus on:

  • Addiction Psychiatrist
  • Adult Psychiatrist
  • Adolescent and Child Psychiatrist
  • Forensic Psychiatrist
  • Geriatric Psychiatrist
  • Neuropsychiatrist
  • Organizational Psychiatrist
  • Behavioral Specialist or Analyst
  • Pediatric Psychiatrist
  • Psychoanalyst
  • Prison Psychiatrist

Factors Discouraging People from Becoming a Psychiatrist

The challenges/factors discouraging people from becoming psychiatrists vary and are wide in scope; they include but are not limited to the following:

  • The Nature of the Job-: A psychiatrist, who is a medical professional who takes care of mental illnesses, is not the envy of all. Whilst the job is rewarding after all, but many persons who stigmatize against people with mental illnesses will find it discouraging to practice the profession.
  • Lack of respect within the medical field-: The psychiatrist profession is not duly respected in the medical field. In fact it is stigmatized against and many young people will not to venture into that. Even in the society, anyone who identifies him/herself as a professional in that branch of medicine will not be respected.
  • Difficulty in treating mental illness-: Mental illness unlike other illnesses is not straight forward and takes quite a lot of time to get treated. Therefore, anyone who cannot be patient enough will be discouraged from venturing into the profession. Because in some cases, psychiatrists may just sit in silent because their patients does not want to say anything. Thus, the treatment of psychiatric patients is not for the feeble minded.
  • Lack of adequate financing-: Psychiatrists are not one of the best paid medical professionals in the world, despite the rigors and stress and stigmatization involved in the profession. Therefore, a lack of adequate financial compensation as compared to other medical practitioners results in the dearth in these professionals, and discourages people from venturing into the profession.

How Much Do Psychiatrists Earn in the United States, Australia, Canada and UK

Psychiatric professionals, one of the most humane professions in the world is indeed gratifying income-wise. All over the world, psychiatric professionals who are not of large population are indeed paid well on the average. While the earning salary of the psychiatrist can range from $85,000 for a start, it can increase to $185,000 for senior psychiatrist professionals. Hence, a critical look at the salaries in different countries will be examined.

  • In the United States

In the United States, while the median hourly wage for a psychiatrist ranges from between $32.43 – $81.9 per hour. While based on percentiles, the median yearly salaries for 90 percent of psychiatrists earn around $228,900. Correspondingly, about 75 percent of psychiatrists receive about $211,939, and also 25 percent of them accept $174,452 and 10 percent get paid about $157,454 per year.

  • In Canada

Psychiatrists in Canada are also treated very well just like their counterparts in the United States. On the average they receive annual salaries ranging from between C$35,234 – C$200,469. In addition they are credited with bonuses of about C$20,624 on the average. Conclusively, Canadian Psychiatrists receives total earning which ranges from between C$24,585 – C$361,572 on the average.

  • In Australia

Australian Psychiatrists are also not left out the huge financial packages enjoyed by their fellow psychiatrists all over the world. On an average, a psychiatrist in Australia receives an annual salary which ranges from between AU$58,466 – AU$203,322. Also in addition, they receive about AU$40,547 in bonuses. In conclusion, the average salary earning of a psychiatrist ranges between AU$58,958 – AU$242, 355 per year.

  • In the United Kingdom

Psychiatrists in the United Kingdom are also one of the well paid professional in the country. According to a salary survey, the moderate salary for a psychiatrist in the UK is 47,000 pounds. Likewise the average expected salary for a psychiatrist in the United Kingdom is 56,341 pounds per year.

It is also estimated that psychiatrists who wish to work hourly receive as much as 28.17 pounds. While the salary scale cuts across board, the salary also varies based on the age of the professional. While the psychiatrist in the 20s earn up to 42, 256 pounds, the one in the 30s earn about 55,215 pounds, in 40s and 50s they earn as high as 65,356 pounds per annum.

How Long Does It take to Become a Psychiatrist?

Becoming a psychiatrist may take up to thirteen years at the minimum. This is because; to become a psychiatrist is not easy, as it includes extensive research and study. The professionals are specialists who have undergone series of trainings and must have acquired relevant experiences over the years. The breakdown of the number of years is as follows:

  • Obtaining a bachelor’s degree: Anyone interested in this profession, must obtain a bachelor’s degree in any course of choice though it is most preferable in chemistry, physics and biology. This could take up to four (4) years at the minimum.
  • Medical School: After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, any intending psychiatrist must go to the medical school as the next point of call. It takes up to four (4) years to complete the program in the medical school.
  • Residency practice: After receiving the license for a medical doctor, the next point of call is to undergo rotational internship which involves studying and visiting different mental establishments. This could take up to one (1) year before you round off.
  • Specialized residency practice: After the initial residency practice that could take up to a year, they have a specialized residency for practice which takes up to 4-6 years to complete. Here, an intending psychiatrist will be under the tutelage of experienced professional psychiatrists.
  • Obtain a psychiatry certification: After the residency practices, the intending psychiatrist must be certified as one after undergoing a certification exam.

Generally, it takes a person about thirteen years before he/she can finally become a professional psychiatrist.

Educational Requirements to Become a Psychiatrist

The educational requirements to become a psychiatrist are similar in many countries, but the basic educational requirements in the United States, Australia, Canada and UK are as follows:

  • In high school, it is required that anyone who is interested in the profession take courses in Mathematics and Sciences
  • While obtaining your bachelor’s degree it is advisable to major in physics, chemistry and mathematics. It is also required that obtaining a degree in Psychology is also a right step in the right direction.
  • The Medical College admission test must be taken so as to qualify to get into the medical school.
  • In the United States, it is required that a would-be psychiatrist takes a certification exam from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and pass with a good score.

Certifications Required in Becoming a Psychiatrist

Just like with other professions, becoming a certified Psychiatrist requires some certifications most especially in the United States. The certifications required for becoming a Psychiatrist in the United States and the processes which lead to it are as follows:

  • Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in a relevant course
  • Entry into the medical school and successfully completing the program there.
  • Join a professional association. In this case, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) is very useful
  • Serve a fellowship and also get a certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.
  • Obtain a medical license from relevant governmental agencies.

Can You Become a Psychiatrist by Taking Online Courses?

You can’t specifically become a psychiatrist by taking degrees online only. This is because; the practice of psychiatry is strenuous and requires quite a lot of effort -which also involves physical examination before it can be obtained. Though there are courses online for adolescent psychiatry, but this does not qualify one basically as a psychiatrist.

These online courses require that students who already have a master’s degree program or currently enrolled in it are able can take. This takes up to 18 months and can only cover courses in adolescent development, pharmacology, families in crisis and assessment skills.

The industries a Psychiatrist Can Work in

A psychiatrist is a special professional. This is so because the profession is one of the most specialized professions in the world. Not every jack can claim to be a psychiatrist; thus, the professional has a wide range of industries where he/she can successfully work in. thus, the following are perfect industries in which a psychiatrist can work in, and they include:

  • Specialist hospitals
  • Psychiatric care medical facilities
  • Substance abuse hospitals
  • Academia

Career Opportunities Open to a Psychiatrist

There are a wide range of career opportunities available for a psychiatrist. This is because psychiatric profession is one of the most sought after job, as we have fewer professionals in the industry. Therefore, the opportunities which can be found in this profession are numerous and they include but not limited to the following:

  • Ability to diverse into different aspects incredibly well, this is so as a psychiatrist can decide to work individually as a private professional, or large healthcare system.
  • As a psychiatrist, you must have undergone and obtained a medical degree, thus a psychiatrist can also fit in into other areas of the medical field perfectly well.
  • Venturing into the academics is another area a psychiatrist can tap into. Since psychiatrists are in high demand, those who can venture into the academic world are able to explore this opportunity.
  • The flexible working condition, can afford you an opportunity to work as a full time, part time, or for even more than one employer.
  • Specialization in other areas of interest; as you can treat people suffering from other mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, mania, depression, learning disabilities, drug addictions etc.

Skills and Traits Needed to Become a Successful Psychiatrist

Just like every other professionals, becoming a successful psychiatrists requires some skills and personal traits that can easily propel one into performing exceedingly well. Some of those skills and traits are as follows:

  • Good perception skill-: Psychiatrists must be able to judge how someone is reacting and why he/she is reacting like that. Thus a psychiatrist must be able to perceive and determine potential risks and benefits, this includes determining if a patient could be potentially dangerous or not.
  • Reasoning ability-: Psychiatrists who intend to be successful in the profession must have both inductive and deductive reasoning skills. While deductive reasoning is to apply known facts and general principles to issues, inductive reasoning on the other hand requires combining bits of data to reach a conclusion
  • Good communication skills-: Psychiatrists must be good listeners. Communication is thus a skill that must be imbibed by all psychiatrists. A psychiatrist must be able to give full attention to words, tone and body language used by others to convey thoughts and emotions. A psychiatrist should communicate well in such a way that he will never be misunderstood.
  • Compassion-: All physicians are healers, and thus must have empathy and compassion for others. Psychiatrists must in addition to this, be effective in understanding the challenges problems and needs of others. Thus, a psychiatrist will hear words that could anger him, but he must remain focus and never allow emotions to sway him.
  • Stress tolerance-: The work of a psychiatrist is indeed demanding and stressful, though sometimes it may be brief but usually intense. While at other times it may last for longer periods. Therefore managing stress effectively and efficiently is a trait/skill every would-be psychiatrist must imbibe.
  • Active and continuous learning-: A psychiatrist who wishes to succeed in his chosen profession must never rest on his/her oars and should take learning actively and continuously. In fact, in the United States all psychiatrists must renew their license every ten years, which require that they must have learnt new things within those periods. New trends in the profession must be learned and practiced continuously.
  • Service Orientation-: A psychiatrist must be service oriented, and must look for ways to help others always. Therefore, any psychiatrist who wishes to be successful in his profession must be ready to serve people efficiently.
  • Time Management-: While Time management is a skill that must be imbibed by all, a psychiatrist must be good at managing time so as to be able to complete tasks at the best time possible. They have to do this effectively as they have the obligation to manage both their time and others.
  • Breadth/Depth of Knowledge-: Treating a psychiatric patient is a difficult task; therefore anyone who intends to venture into this profession must have both an in-depth and a wide knowledge of the profession. Thus, this will enable the psychiatrist to know a broad range of diagnostic possibilities before settling on one.
  • Humility-: Humility is a skill that should never be toiled with by any psychiatrist. In the psychiatry world, nobody knows it all and a psychiatric diagnosis is usually subjective. It will only take a humble psychiatrist to understand this, and ensure that the best medical diagnosis at the end of the day is carried out.

Tips and Advice to Help Advance your Career Towards Becoming a Better Psychiatrist

Becoming a psychiatrist though takes a long period of time, but it is easy after all. Obtaining the certifications are not only time consuming, but also strenuous. Therefore the following tips and advice can help and advance a person’s career towards becoming a better psychiatrist:

  • Earn the necessary certifications-: To become a successful psychiatrist, you must ensure that you acquire all the certifications that are required of you. This is because it is only through this, that your journey towards even making it as a psychiatrist can materialize.
  • Seek relevant information-: Seeking of information from the right sources is critical to ensuring that you succeed as a psychiatrist. Information such as the certifications needed in your country/state, the relevant government agencies you must be familiar with and so on and so forth.
  • Know your area of specialization-: As a psychiatrist, you have the opportunity of specializing in different medical fields. Therefore, if you want to be a successful psychiatrist, you must be familiar with these areas of interest earlier on in your career.
  • Flexibility is the order of the day-: It is important you know that, the career you have chosen is a flexible one and it offers you a wide range of opportunities. Therefore, this should ring a bell in your head to prepare you adequately for the challenges ahead.
  • Follow relevant blogs-: The internet today brings information to you even from the comfort of your homes. Therefore as a psychiatrist who wishes to succeed, you must maximize this opportunity and ensure that you follow relevant blogs that can provide you with the necessary information you need.

To sum all that has been aid here up, psychiatrists are special medical professionals who treat medical illnesses. While their importance cannot be over-emphasized, there seems to be a dearth in the number of persons into the practice of the profession.

It is projected that up to the year 2020, there will be an increase in demand for these professionals. Psychiatrists are humane, hardworking, compassionate, and patient. They may not be one of the most paid medical professionals in the world but they are indeed of high importance.

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