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What is a psychiatrist?

Psychiatry is a specific area of medicine that focuses on mental health conditions, from causes and diagnosis to prevention and treatment of a range of different conditions. One of the key distinctions between psychologists and psychiatrists is that psychiatrists will generally seek to identify a biological or physiological cause for certain mental health conditions or symptoms, aiming to treat these with medicines as well as psychological therapies, whereas psychologists generally focus on psychological therapies and psychological factors alone.This means that psychiatrists need a good knowledge of genetics, and other physical health issues that can affect mental health, blending physical medicine and mental health therapy to be able to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions most effectively.

It is common for psychiatrists to specialize in areas such as;

  • Addiction
  • Child and adolescent psychiatry
  • Forensic psychiatry
  • Sleep disorders
  • Geriatric psychiatry

This gives psychiatrists a wide range of specialisms and routes to develop in their career, making it an interesting and varied role with plenty of opportunities for dedicated and hardworking individuals.

Who employs psychiatrists?

Psychiatrists are employed by all sorts of organizations, such as hospitals, clinics, universities, community agencies, courts, prisons, the military, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, and private practices.

These organizations tend to offer various treatments and therapies for patients suffering from mental health conditions that may have underlying or unknown physical causes. This means that psychiatrists can work with people of various ages and in all kinds of different institutions, both independently and in support of other therapies and clinicians or multi-disciplinary teams.

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How do you become a psychiatrist?

Becoming a psychiatrist takes a lot of work, and first requires a degree in medicine (M.O) or osteopathic medicine (D.O) followed by several years of practice as a psychiatric resident, which can go on for 4 years. This period of time is spent training in diagnosis, psychopharmacology, and various psychotherapies. Residents are required to finish four months of post-graduate training in internal medicine and at least two months of neurology. After all of this, a candidate will be eligible to take a specialty board examination to become a board-certified psychiatrist. From the end of high school, all of this training takes at least 12 years, which is an immense amount of time spent in development, and isn’t for the faint of heart.  Additional specialized training can make this period of time even longer, so it’s a very serious commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Psychiatrist salary/earning potential

Psychiatrists have great earning potential, due in large part to the immense amount of time, effort, skill, and investment they take on to become fully certified psychiatrists. Not many people are able to complete the process, which naturally makes the number of psychiatrists quite small, as few people have all the necessary aptitudes and qualities required to sustain such a long period of work and study.

As such, psychiatrists are paid very well generally, with the average salary being over $200,000 a year. This can be affected by various factors such as experience, location, and the organization being worked for, but generally, psychiatrists are paid well above the average wage in the US and elsewhere, indicating the incredibly skilled and difficult work they undertake.

What does a psychiatrist do in their job?

Psychiatrists are somewhat similar to psychologists in that they are primarily responsible for researching and focusing on mental health issues, however, the difference is that psychiatrists are able to prescribe medicines and treatments that go beyond forms of talk therapy, and which look at finding and treating the underlying cause of mental health issues, be they related to things like depression, mood issues, sleep issues or psychosis.

Psychiatrists can be considered a sort of compromise between a traditional doctor or physician and a psychologist, able to understand mental health and its intricacies while being able to relate these issues to physical causes and finding suitable treatments.

Is psychiatry a dying field?

This is an interesting question, fraught with misinformation, gossip, and biases. There is often talk of psychiatry being pseudoscience and being obsolete. This is actually untrue, however, and psychiatrists are very highly trained and, as mentioned above, undergo rigorous training in various areas of medicine, and are often qualified to practice psychiatry as well as other forms of medicine due to their intensive years of training and study.

Issues with the image of psychiatry are due in part to its somewhat barbaric and immoral history, where a lack of understanding and other serious issues led to the barbaric treatment of patients in asylums, lobotomy, and other heinous practices.

Modern psychiatry has come a long way, however, as have approaches and opinions of mental health, and psychiatrists today work tirelessly to help treat and resolve serious mental illness.

It’s also true that demand has never been higher for both psychologists and psychiatrists, as mental health becomes better understood and more people seek help for these issues.

Is being a psychiatrist stressful?

It definitely can be, as psychiatrists often deal with patients who are seriously ill or have been through tragic situations and circumstances and aren’t always able to help or resolve these issues. While not all psychiatrists deal with psychopaths and severely mentally ill patients, it’s a high-stress job as it can be difficult to diagnose correctly, and comes under intense scrutiny to ensure patient safety, much like other medical doctors and professions.

While challenging, it is a very rewarding job at the very frontline of trying to help people deal with mental illnesses and find solutions to some of the most tragic and disturbing illnesses and afflictions that exist.

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Position Company Location Posted
Faculty Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Outpatient Psychiatrist Northwestern University Chicago, Illinois US 01/24/2022
The Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Pritzker Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Childrens Hospital of Chicago, seek a full-time non-tenure-eligible Clinician-Educator track at the rank of Assistant or Associate Professor. This position is intended for a child and adolescent psychiatrist who will join a multidisciplinary child and adolescent psychiatry department in a nationally ... More
Psychiatrist/Forensic Psychiatrist Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services Las Vegas, Nevada US 12/05/2021
State of NevadaDepartment of Health and Human ServicesNevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health (DPBH)Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services(SNAMHS) is actively recruiting for ... More
Adult / General Psychiatrist & Child / Adolescent Psychiatrist Florida Health Care Plans, Inc. Daytona Beach, Florida US 01/15/2021
Florida Health Care Plans, a large multi-specialty staff model HMO is seeking a BC/BE, Adult / General Psychiatrist & Child / Adolescent Psychiatrist to join our Daytona Beach facility located in Volusia County. Office hours are flexible, outpatient only, call is 1 in 5 and very limited. The Daytona Beach facility offers Behavioral Health,Cardiology, Dentistry,Endocrinology, ... More
Psychiatrist - Child Psychiatrist Lahey Health Lawrence, Massachusetts US 12/13/2021
Job Description About the Job Provides direct patient care, professional support to medical and clinical staff (social workers, mental health counselors). Ensures supervision is provided to all Medical Staff serving youth, including but not limited to Nurse Practitioners and medical students. Programs include community based youth services based out of outpatient clinics and outreach sites in Lawrence, Haverhill, and Beverly. General educational ... More
Psychiatrist Staffmore, LLC Pennsylvania US 01/07/2022
*** REMOTE position *** *** $500 sign-on bonus upon starting *** We are seeking a psychiatrist to provide 8 hours of psychiatric coverage per week (may include weekends). Days and hours will be determined based on mutual availability. Time will be kept by contractor, who will invoice bi-weekly. We will pay invoices within a week of receipt. The psychiatrist will oversee the CRNP and complete any ... More
Attending Psychiatrist Jamaica Hospital New York, New York US 01/14/2022
Full-time & part-time Attending Psychiatrist positions available at Jamaica & Flushing Hospitals in Queens, NY. CL, inpatient, ER, and outpatient positions available. Teach residents, medical students, and CL Fellows. Research opportunities with full support. Competitive salaries and full benefits. Visa sponsorship available. More
Two Psych Opportunities MercyOne Iowa MercyOne Northeast Iowa Waterloo, Iowa US 01/17/2022
Seeking Child/Adolescent Psychiatrist Seeking General Psychiatrist with Geriatric Focus Join three Adult psychiatrists and one psychiatric ARNP Full-time schedule (option for 4, 4.5 or 5-day work week) Clinic based with shared clinic/hospital call responsibility 20 Bed Inpatient Unit and 23 Bed Horizons Chemical Dependency Unit, both in Waterloo 15 Bed Senior Behavioral Health Unit in Cedar Falls ... More
Psychiatrist - C/L - General Psychiatry Lahey Health Burlington, Massachusetts US 12/13/2021
Job Description About the Job C/L and general psychiatrist at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center LHMC, member of BI Lahey Health, is recruiting for a Full-Time position with a mix of C/L and general psychiatry. The psychiatrist will help manage a robust C/L service covering approximately 400 med surg beds, as well as supporting a busy emergency department. The C/L service is also a primary teaching service for third year Tufts medical students, with regular ... More
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