What's the Job Description of a Clinical Psychiatrist?

Clinical psychiatrists use counseling, therapy, and medication to help people cope with various mental health problems. Keep reading to learn more about the job description for these medical professionals and to find out about education and licensure requirements. Schools offering Clinical Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Description

Clinical psychiatrists are medical doctors who diagnose patients' mental health issues and treat them through medication and various forms of therapy. Through consultation with medical professionals and patients, you'd offer suggestions on the best treatment methods. You might find solutions for patients by helping them break developed behavioral patterns or by offering group or family therapy sessions. In some cases, you might work with the same patient for years.

Important Facts About Psychiatrists

Work Environment Private practice, hospital, school, laboratory
Similar Occupations Registered nurse, social worker, psychologist
Key Skills Communication, interpersonal skills, attention to detail, listening
On-The-Job Training Residency

Sources: Payscale.com, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education

You can study psychology as an undergraduate to provide you with a foundation in human behavior and therapeutic methods. To become a clinical psychiatrist, you'll need to complete a four-year professional degree program in medicine. The education and training in medical school covers general healthcare practices, ethics, and procedures. You'll become familiar with anatomy and physiology and learn how to treat patients. Medical school programs usually follow a regimented curriculum, though you can enroll in a school that offers specialized training or a dual-degree option to focus your studies in a specific discipline, such as behavioral psychology.

After medical school, you'll need to complete an internship. Psychiatry internships usually aren't offered, though you can gain experience with the patients you're primarily interested in by working with family care physicians, pediatricians, or psychologists. After completing your internship, you'll begin to focus on clinical psychiatry through one or more residencies, which can focus on general, family, or child psychiatry.

Licensing

To work as a clinical psychiatrist, you'll need to be licensed by your state as a physician. You can start the process by taking a national licensing examination; you might also be required to submit to a background check and pass a state-level exam. Regulations for physician licensing vary by state and can be found through your state's medical board. You'll need to continually renew your license to maintain your clinical psychiatry practice.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

Your earnings will depend on the type of services you provide and where you work. According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of psychiatrists was expected to grow by nearly 16% from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). As of September 2015, Payscale.com listed the median annual salary of psychiatrists at $181,347. Vocational rehabilitation services paid the highest average salary for psychiatrists, followed by company and enterprise management and outpatient care centers.

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