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Psychiatrist Careers: Job Overview, Training, Duties

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A psychiatrist must have either an MD or DO from a school of medicine. In addition, a residency must be completed with at least three of these years specifically in the practice of psychiatry. A residency is like an apprenticeship or internship in that you work under the supervision of another psychiatrist. After completing their residency, prospective psychiatrists must then pass a written and oral examination. The written exam lasts a full day and covers basic science and clinical psychiatry. The oral segment of the exam is designed to assess skills in real settings through actual observation of an examination and patient history with a client. As a first year practitioner I could make up to 230,800 dollars in annual salary. The exact number will vary based on location and other factors.

Psychiatrists focus on the diagnosis, treatment and of mental and emotional disorders. Psychiatrists are qualified to assess and treat both the mental and physical aspects of psychological problems.

People seek psychiatric help for many reasons. The problems can be sudden, such as a panic attack, frightening hallucinations, or thoughts of suicide. On the other side, the issues may be more long-term, such as feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or anxiousness that never seem to lift. Psychiatrists can order or perform a full range of medical, laboratory and psychological tests. That combined with discussions with patients, help provide a picture of a patient’s physical and mental state. Their education and clinical training equip them to understand the complex relationship between emotional and other medical illnesses and the relationships with genetics and family history, to evaluate medical and psychological data, to make a diagnosis, and to work with patients to develop treatment plans.

Psychiatrists use a variety of treatments – including various forms of psychotherapy, medications, psychosocial interventions and other treatments depending on the needs of each patient.

Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is a treatment that involves a conversational relationship between a therapist and patient. It can be used to treat a broad variety of mental disorders and emotional difficulties. Depending on the extent of the problem, treatment may take just a few sessions over a week or two or may take many sessions over a period of years. Psychotherapy can be done individually, as a couple, a family, or in a group.

There are many forms of psychotherapy. There are psychotherapies that help patients change behaviors or thought patterns, psychotherapies that help patients explore the effect of past relationships and experiences on present behaviors, and psychotherapies that are tailored to help solve other problems in specific ways. Cognitive behavior therapy is a goal-oriented therapy focusing on problem solving. Psychoanalysis is an intensive form of individual psychotherapy which requires frequent sessions over several years.

After completing thorough evaluations, psychiatrists can prescribe medications to help treat mental disorders. Psychiatric medications can help correct imbalances in brain chemistry that are thought to be involved in some mental disorders. America needs about 45,000 more psychiatrists, because many psychiatrists will be retiring in the next decade. The problem is that we only have roughly 10 per 100,000 psychiatrists in the US, or about 30,000 in total. That’s 15 per 100,000 too few, and assuming a population of about 300 million, the estimated shortage of 45,000 psychiatrists. This represents a mental health services crisis. Because of the current and future state of this profession, I don’t think I’ll have to worry about job security. Psychiatrists are generally very healthy. I feel that the happiness rating for psychiatrists is lower than other jobs due to the depressing nature of their work.

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