What is a psychiatrist?
This is licensed medical professional who has earned a medical degree making them a Medical Doctor (MD) but has also taken specialized training in the field of psychiatry. This field emphasizes the care and treatment of people who are suffering from mental illness. After getting their medical license there will be 3 – 4 years of additional study. There are many people who confuse a therapist with a psychiatrist but the major differences is that only medical doctors can use the title of psychiatrist and can prescribe medical therapies or medications to people with mental illness. The word “psychiatry” means “medical treatment of the soul.” Psychiatry was not a recognized medical field until the middle of the 19th century.
Job description of a psychiatrist
One way to describe a psychiatrist is that they are medical professionals who “analyze, diagnose, and treat mental disorders.” While a psychiatrist student you can specialize in any field that interests them such as:
- Treating children with various mental disabilities
- Treating adults that are combating with post-trauma disorders
- Forensic psychiatry
- Geriatric psychiatry
A psychiatrist will design and plan the required treatment for their patient by discussing with other health professionals like the patient’s primary care doctor, or a social worker. To treat the patient’s mental illness they may prescribe psychotherapeutic treatments and/or prescription medication. They will treat patients that are suffering from different mental illness like anxiety, depression, or schizophrenia.
It is also important to note that being a psychiatrist is not the same as being a psychologist. A psychiatrist is a fully trained physician who diagnoses and treats brain disorders that affect a person’s mood, cognition, and thought. A psychiatrist must have good communication skills not only with the patient but also with other medical personnel. They must also understand that they cannot push someone to express what is bothering them and there may be times during their private session with a patient that they may just sit in silence because the patient does not want to talk so they have to have patience. It is a job that can at times be stressful.
How to become a psychiatrist?
To become a psychiatrist is not easy because it includes extensive research and study but it can be a rewarding profession, especially if you love to help people. You should start your education while in high school by taking courses in science and math and when you graduate it is on to college to get your bachelor’s degree. Your major can be in anything that you want to study but it is advisable that you choose a bachelor’s degree that contains chemistry, physics, and biology as the major subjects or in subjects that are relevant to human behavior like sociology and psychology. You could also get a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. Once you have your bachelor’s degree you need to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). In addition to getting a high score on your MCAT you should make sure that your GPA is high as both of these are important to get into medical school along with letters of recommendations.
In medical school the first 2 years will be spent studying mainly science-related classes and gaining theoretical knowledge that includes subjects like human anatomy, medical law, immunology, physiology, and pathology. The last 2 years are spent in doing clinical rotations and training that will focus on letting students get exposure in the varied medical fields in a practical setting. To earn your M.D. you must take the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). There are some students who prefer to become a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) in which they will take the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX) instead of the USMLE. Either medical degree can lead to a career as a psychiatrist.
After receiving your license for a Medical Doctor (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) it is time to do your rotating internship which involves visiting and studying at different mental establishments. This can take up to 12 months to complete. Then there is a residency that you must do that can take 4 – 6 years to complete. During this residency you will learn the skills of interacting with patients under the supervision of professional experience psychiatrists.
In the first year of residency the training that you will receive will mainly be a general medical internship but during the second year your specific specialization will begin with training in that specialty. After the fourth year of residency training there is a fellowship training that gives you sub-specialty training in any field such as forensic psychiatry, neuropsychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, emergency psychiatry, psychopharmacology, geriatrics, addiction psychiatry, consultation liaison, and more. By the time you finish your residency you will have completed the required 36 months of psychiatric training.
To get your license you will need to obtain a psychiatry certification. In order to do this you will need to take a certified exam from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) and pass with a good score. In addition, the APBN offers subspecialty certifications in pain medicine, forensic psychiatry, addiction psychiatry, sleep medicine, and adolescent and child psychiatry. In order to prescribe medications to your patients you must also have a federal narcotics license and be registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Psychiatrists are periodically required to renew their licenses by their state board of medicine and in order to do so there are requirements that must be met. One requirement may be completing continuing medical education class work but it depends on the state board what requirements are actually needed to renew their license.
Work environment and schedule
When you become a psychiatrist you can work in private practice, group practice, in hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, or mental health facilities. Some even have a private practice and also consult with mental health facilities. They may also be a member of investigative organizations like the police force or work for pharmaceutical companies in research facilities. There are some who specialize in criminal psychiatry and are the ones who will examine people accused of a crime and then testify as to their mental health status during the time they committed the crime and whether they are fit to stand trial. There are also psychiatrists who create profiles to help the police narrow down their field of suspects. Depending on where you work you will typically work regular business hours but your job may require that you be on call during the evenings and weekends.
One of the principal jobs of a psychiatrist who work in therapeutic settings is to diagnosis what, if any, mental illness the patient has and what the course of treatment should be. This treatment could be medical therapies and/or prescription medications. Some psychiatrist have a private practice but will also be affiliated with a hospital and see patients in the hospital in the emergency room or during regular rounds if one of their patients is in the hospital. The treatment sessions that they conduct may be in group sessions or private sessions.
Depending on where they work a work day for them may involve seeing new patients, having private sessions, which is normally done with new patients, be the spokesperson for group sessions such as addiction groups, people who suffer from depression, and more. When they see children they may use play therapy to get the children to talk to them. Talking to children is very different from talking to adults so a psychiatrist has to take a different approach to get them to talk to them. It may take several sessions before a child will open up as to what is going on with them. It could be anything from depression, mental abuse, sexual abuse, abandonment issues, physical abuse, and more.
They will also be responsible for writing in the patient’s chart what went on during the session, how much progress they are making, what is the diagnosis if it is a new patient, schedule them for another appointment, etc. When a psychiatrist sees a patient, whether it is a new patient or one that they have been seeing for awhile the patient could be easy to work with but then at other times they could become violent and display behavior that is frightening. Working with patients with mental illness or behavioral problems is not an easy job. It can take many months of trial and error trying different prescription medications and therapy sessions until they find the right combination for that patient. Treatment of people with mental illness will usually require a combination of medication to help correct any chemical imbalances, psychotherapy, and psychoanalysis. Sometimes the patient will need to be hospitalized to prevent them from harming themselves and/or others.
In order to diagnose accurately what the patient is suffering from the psychiatrist will look over the patient’s medical chart and by observing their behaviors. When working with a patient whether in a private session or group session they will help the patient try to understand their behaviors and how to adjust to them.
Pros and cons of being a Psychiatrist
Working as a psychiatrist, you’ll be dealing with many people but the greatest reward remains to be able to help patients that are facing difficult times. Resolving many of their emotional and mental problems and giving them hope that they could truly have a chance to a better life is a great career choice.
Still you’ll be facing a daily amount of stressful situations because some of the patients that come to you have seriously devastating illnesses. So, you have to be strong in this line of duty and constantly offer your support. The environment, in which you work can be a scene that might affect you if you are not a stable person. So, make sure to inform yourself upon this job offering before you start on this path.
Like in any other jobs or career choices, this job has its pros and cons. Choosing to work as a psychiatrist will get you a higher income so this is unquestionably a pro with a median salary average that can climb to $170,020 per year or even higher.
You’ll get many job opportunities, and the prospects are good even for the rural areas or for being self-employed. Based on many surveys there is a potential growth in the average jobs, with other words you’ll have a stable job opportunity.
The main cons, which will gather up are based on the educational process that assumes for a student to graduate a medical school and then follow a residency. This will involve many years of study plus the debts that gather after finishing with all the educational process. For being a psychiatrist, you’ll need to be very serious about your studies since the admission to one of the accredited medical schools is very competitive. Also, only the best students, who scored above the average will enter.
In your work you’ll have an irregular schedule comprised of hours that involve weekends, night shifts, and evenings. Your working hours also encompass holiday shifts and overtime according to the type of employer you have, the number of demanding.
Psychiatrist Job Growth
The job growth projection for psychiatrists for the next five to ten years is estimated to reach 28.5%. In the medical care field is starting to be a high number of demand for adolescent and child psychiatrists, and lets not to forget that this field covers patients of various ages in the treatment of various mental illnesses as well as emotional and behavioral conditions and problems.
The job openings for this field count mainly based on some influential factors that affect and impact the growth rate, factors such as the employment growth and the decisions of some workers to leave the workforce or found employment in other parts. The job openings are mainly found in a variety of workplaces and settings from clinics, and up to hospitals or private offices. Some psychiatrists decide even to enter in the research field. The job growth for these specialists and all the other in the related medical fields will continue to work due to the expansion of the healthcare related industries. Stability is on the rise for psychiatrists, so they can expect growing salaries and overall a good outlook for coming years.
The average yearly psychiatrist salary is also another of the highest paid profession in the medical field. On average they can have a yearly salary of $193,310 but what the exact amount would be depends on a variety of factors such as how many years of work experience they have, any advance qualifications, where they work, and the geographical location. Just entering the field of psychiatry they may not think their salary is very impressive but with two years of experience a psychiatrist can earn on average a yearly salary of $50,000 – $100,000 or more. Working for top-notch hospitals in major cities like Los Angeles, Washington, and New York can earn approximately 40 – 75% more than psychiatrists employed in other parts of the country. If you are in a private practice many times your salary will exceed those who are salaried and work in hospitals, clinics, mental health centers, etc but first you will need to build up a reputation for yourself so patients will call you for appointments. It is advisable that you gain experience in a mental health center, hospitals, clinics and more before you start your own private practice.
Although it can take as long as 12 years to get your license to become a practicing psychiatrist the job outlook is very promising and by the year 2022 the demand is expected to grow by 18%. This is a specialization in there seems to be a shortage of psychiatrists in the fields of geriatric psychology and child psychology so those would be two of the specialty fields that a student wanting to become a psychiatrist would think about specializing in. Since these are two fields where there seems to be a shortage the pay would be.
Also figuring in on the average yearly psychiatrist salary is the benefit package that generally includes paid vacation days, paid sick days, paid holidays, profit sharing, life insurance, health insurance that could also include the family, pension, social security, 401K, and malpractice insurance. Depending on where you are working there could be other benefits included in the package.
5 of the top paying metropolitan areas in the United States include:
- $249,520 in Fort Worth, Texas
- $249,250 in Vallejo-Fairfield, California
- $244,700 in Fargo, North Dakota
- $243,720 in Portland, Oregon
- $242,000 in Waterbury, Connecticut
Psychiatrist salary in Canada, Australia and United Kingdom
The average yearly psychiatrist salary would be in:
- Canada—CA$55,000 – CA$165,000
- United Kingdom—£54,000, but they usually will base the salary on the age of the psychiatrist. If they are in their 20’s the average would be £42,256, in their 30’s the average would be £55,215, and in their 40’s and 50’s the average would be £65,356.
- Australia—AU$58,466 – AU$203,322 with an added yearly bonus of approximately AU$40,547.
Salary of a Psychiatrist in 2015
In the United States, the salary of a psychiatrist is estimated at $193,315 per year and is influenced by two factors. These factors are the years of experience and the advanced of qualifications that one of these medical professional’s has obtained.
In 2015, the salary of a psychiatrist is influenced a lot by other factors such as the location, the education and training and the type of sub-specialty that one has. Those, who are employed in the private sector or that are self-employed earn a higher wage than those who are hired by medical schools.
The average income in the US for a Psychiatrist usually ranges from $160,010 to $230,010 per year. Wages can increase or also decrease according to the highest and the lowest limits, the state in which you work, the area that can be small rural area or a big city. The overview for these medical professionals is very good, and estimations are made for a growth in the next ten years.
Psychiatrist Salary in 2016
The income of a psychiatrist for the year 2016, in the US, has a median annual average that gets around $183,614 per year. The lowest income in this branch usually reaches at $100,010 per year while the highest income among these professionals can climb up to $273,010 per year. The major factor that affects this career is the geographical location this including each state, region or city. Another impact that is to be taken into consideration regarding the earnings is based on the type of employment and the years of experience in the field.
In some cases according to each employer, there are bonuses granted that can reach up to $25,534 per year and profit sharing that can be range between $223.02 and $138,087. When it comes to the years of experience in the field, those professionals with less than five years at the working site can expect to take home a basic income that usually reaches up to $174,010 per year. Psychiatrists that are working for five and up to 10 years can expect at earnings that reach at $193,010 per year while those who are in the field for 10 and up to 20 years can expect a median income that reaches an average estimated to be at around $204,010 per year.
The top-paying cities for these specialists with higher earnings can be found in San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles. In these areas, the earnings are considered to be above the national average. For instance in Los Angeles, the median payment is estimated for a psychiatrist to reach at $194,423 per year that is above the national average that usually reaches at $191,010 per year.
On the other side, the paychecks for these professionals that have a below the national average percent can be found in Boston, New York, Atlanta, and Philadelphia. For instance in Boston, the average median payment for a Psychiatrist is estimated to be below the national average, with an income of around $174,970 per year.
Conclusion on psychiatrist salary
Although it is a high paying medical profession you should not become a psychiatrist because of the money. The reason is that it is a very challenging job and to be a great psychiatrist you should be one because you love helping people with mental illnesses become productive members of society. If you are looking for a subspecialty that will give you a high salary become a forensic psychiatrist who can have an average yearly salary of $35,000 – $600.000 or child psychiatrist who can have an average yearly salary of $50,000 – $199,186.
- First Published Date: 21 August, 2014
- Last Updated Date: 22 August, 2016