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Career Profile: Psychiatrist

Why Is Psychiatry a Job of Tomorrow?
Ensuring their mental health is at its best helps individuals remain productive and positive members of society. As the world population increases, the demand for psychiatrists to help them do so will heighten. Employment opportunities for psychiatrists are expected to grow at a faster rate than the average for all U.S. occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average annual salary for psychiatrists is $154,050.

What Does a Psychiatrist Do?
Psychiatrists work to improve the mental health of patients. They specialize in dealing with cases of mental illness and disorders, such as those at high suicidal risk. Psychiatrists may either work from a private office or in a psychiatric ward. Responsibilities and other duties depend greatly on the types of patients the psychiatrist sees. In a private office setting, psychiatrists may have their patients come in at a designated time each week to engage in a talk psychotherapy session, where the doctor interviews them to track their progress and discuss issues and solutions. In a psychiatric ward setting, psychiatrists may be working with a team of nurses to tend to a group of patients. Psychiatrists are licensed to prescribe psychiatric medications, such as lithium. In both instances, psychiatrists assess every individual case before creating a therapy plan that could include talk sessions, close monitoring and prescription medication.

What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become a Psychiatrist?
Psychiatrists are physicians with a specialty in mental health. Therefore, they must undergo the same rigorous education as physicians, which includes four years earning a bachelor's degree and another four in medical school, where they must earn a doctor in medicine or doctor of osteopathic medicine. After completing medical school, prospective psychiatrists must complete four years of residency in a professional work environment, where they will be given responsibility over a wide variety of patients to build their real-world experience, according to the American Association of Directors of Psychiatric Residency Training. To earn official licensure as an independent psychiatrist, residents must pass a national certification exam.