Psychiatrists are medical professionals that specialize in working with patients to prevent, diagnose, and treat mental disorders that include:
- substance abuse disorders
- psychotic disorders
- anxiety disorders
- mood disorders…
Maintaining mental health is an important factor in nurturing personal well-being. Mental health issues that are left untreated can have dire effects, which is why psychiatry is an important field in healthcare and one of the highest-paying careers.
Psychiatrists need to perform specific tests in order to evaluate the patient’s symptoms and ease or completely heal the patient’s disorder.
Patients that suffer from mental health conditions (depression, schizophrenia, dementia, bipolar disorder, etc.) can ask for help from a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist will provide psychotherapy treatment to the patient by discussing his/her problems, moods, and feelings.
Sometimes the treatment can include prescribing medications, referring to other physicians, or in some cases – psychiatric hospitalization.
The job of a psychiatrist also includes preventing mental disorders from occurring in the first place (especially in case of traumatic events).
What Is The Average Salary For A Psychiatrist In The USA?
The average salary for a psychiatrist is $219k/year (as of 2022). The total cash earnings of the psychiatrist range from $101K to $295K on the high end.
$101k - $295k
$2k - $46k
$9k - $33k
$104k - $331k
What Are The Responsibilities Of Psychiatrists?
Psychiatrists do more than just diagnose and prescribe medication to their patients. They work closely with individuals and their families in order to professionally curate a plan to cope with the mental illnesses of the patient and determine the best treatment possible.
They use their extensive knowledge of mental, behavioral, addictive, and emotional disorders to find the best way to assist and treat their patients.
Psychiatrists are usually responsible for:
- Admitting and discharging patients with mental disorders.
- Observing patients’ behavior, concerns, vital signs, and conditions.
- Prescribing medications and other treatments for managing or healing the disorders.
- Lead patients in therapeutic and recreational activities
- Providing expertise to patients for healthy well-being.
- Restraining physically violent patients
- Transporting patients to psychiatric facilities.
The responsibilities of psychiatrists mostly depend on the types of patients they work with.
Similar to other medical doctors, psychiatrists are able to prescribe prescription medications to combat certain mental disorders with specific drugs as part of the treatment.
They are trained to monitor the patient’s heath and write prescriptions for a variety of drugs as well as recommend hospitalization if necessary.
If further counseling is needed, the psychiatrist will usually provide recommendations to a psychologist or mental health counselor, who they usually work in association with in order to treat the patient.
The Training Of Psychiatrists – How To Become A Psychiatrist In The USA?
The training required to lead a career in psychiatry includes 4 years of medical school, 4 years as a psychiatric resident, and at least 1-year fellowship to prepare for their professional careers in which they work closely with patients under the supervision of a licensed psychiatrist.
Here are the specific steps that any aspiring psychiatrist needs to take in order to pursue this career:
- Earn a bachelor’s degree – It all starts with earning your bachelor’s degree by majoring in some related topics such as psychology, biology, or chemistry.
- Take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) – To qualify for a medical school program, you need to score high on your Medical College Admission Test.
- Finish a medical school – After your bachelor’s degree and passing the MCAT test, you need to apply to a medical school. During your study (that takes 4 years) you can choose to become a medical doctor (M.D.) or doctor of osteopathy (D.O.)
- Acquire a license – The next step after finishing your medical school is to become a licensed doctor in your state (by passing the state board examination).
- Complete a residency – Now it’s time to complete a residency program in psychiatry (which usually takes 4 years). Here you’ll learn how to treat different mental health disorders and conditions.
- Consider a fellowship – After your residency, you can choose a sub-specialty in psychiatry by working at least 1 year in a fellowship. After finishing your fellowship, you will be rewarded with a certificate in your chosen subspecialty.
- Obtain a board certification from ABPN – To become a fully licensed psychiatrist, you need to obtain board certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN). This certification needs to be renewed every 10 years.
Psychiatry is sometimes confused with the career of a psychologist. While psychologists also require a doctoral degree to be licensed, the role of a psychologist is not just to evaluate and treat patients but to perform counseling and psychotherapy for their patients.
Unlike psychiatrists, psychologists are not qualified to write medical prescriptions for the patient.
Oftentimes, psychologists and psychiatrists will work in conjunction to carry out the medical and psychological treatment of the patient, depending on their disorder.
What Skills Does A Psychiatrist Need To Have?
- Communication skills – Strong communication skills are a MUST in this career and extremely necessary in order for the psychiatrist to coordinate and work well with patients, their families, and other medical professionals. In addition, psychiatrists need to have good interpersonal skills in order to establish a strong rapport with their patients and provide the best ongoing care.
- Empathy and compassion – Just like any other medical professional, psychiatrists also need to have a good sense of empathy and compassion for their patients. They need to be truly willing to help people who struggle with mental disorders.
- Attention to detail – Psychiatrists need to be able to closely watch their patients for any changes in behavior, especially during treatment. They must recognize any small signs of discomfort or issues among their patients.
- Patience and perseverance – Sometimes, this work can be very emotionally challenging, especially when working with difficult patients. That’s why psychiatrists need to stay patient and calm in stressful situations.
- Willingness to learn – Psychiatrists are required to constantly upgrade their knowledge and stay up-to-date with the latest advancements and solutions that work best with patients in their field.
The psychiatrist’s role is to study and understand the biological, psychological, and social concepts of mental illness and then devise the proper treatment method for the disorder.
Psychiatry is an extremely lucrative career that brings in six-figure salaries and even higher salary potential for individuals looking to specialize. The amount of time, effort, and education required to be a licensed psychiatrist make it a highly valued profession that generates one of the most stable, highest-paying jobs in the USA.
Most of the time, psychiatrists are employed by state governments or by home health care services. These psychiatrists are often offered higher salary pay, although a lot of psychiatrists are employed in their own private practice as well, so their earnings are not limited.
At the end of the day, psychiatrists perform a very important job in society. And that’s why their expertise and extensive education make them highly valued career professionals in the health industry.