Psychiatrist (DO/MD)

Psychiatrists are medical doctors licensed to diagnose and treat mental health disorders. They utilize various medicinal, psychosocial, and psychotherapeutic therapies to treat patients. Since psychiatrists are licensed to prescribe medication, they often work with patients struggling with serious disorders, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), etc.

The origins of psychiatry dates back more than 150 years when the the American Psychiatric Association (APA) was organized. Current psychiatric researchers are constantly learning new things about human brain chemistry, cognition, and mental health. In fact, new knowledge about neuroscience has enabled scientists to develop technology to better diagnose and treat various mental health disorders. Many people with mental illness are able to live happy and functional lives because of the advances in psychiatric medicine and technology.

Demand for psychiatrists is projected to be excellent through the near future. Those specializing in geriatric, child, and other psychiatric subspecialists will be in higher demand than generalists.

Working Conditions

Most psychiatrists work nearly 50 hours every week, with about 60 percent of work hours devoted to patient care. Most psychiatrists work in outpatient settings. Those employed at mental health hospitals typically work with patients diagnosed with serious mental illnesses.

Psychiatrists setup and manage private practices and join group practices. Many psychiatrists are employed at veteran's hospitals since veterans often struggle with PTSD. Psychiatrists can also be found at medical schools and psychiatric health clinics.

Career Training and Education

Psychiatrists must complete 4 years of medical school, followed by a 4 year residency, with 3 years devoted exclusively to psychiatry. First year residents will be immersed in neurology, pediatrics, family medicine, or internal medicine.

After completing a residency, you'll have the opportunity to specialize and complete a yearlong fellowship in one of many sub-specialties, including geriatric, addiction, forensic, emergency, and child psychiatry.

Once residencies and optional fellowships are completed, you'll qualify to take the certification exam administered by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN). The ABPN also administers certification exams for specialists.

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