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Clinical Psychiatrist: Education and Career Information

If you are interested in the mental health specialties, pursuing a career in clinical psychiatry may be for you. This is a clinical position that treats mental illnesses and disorders. A number of years of education is required for this career, but it is a very lucrative career choice that can yield high financial rewards.

What does a clinical psychiatrist do?

A clinical psychiatrist works with patients in the analysis and diagnosis of their mental state. They recommend treatment plans, medication and/or therapy. They are medical doctors that can provide counseling and therapy, and work with other healthcare professionals in finding solutions to mental health conditions. This position is concerned with balancing the demands of the patient’s life circumstances with lessons from empirical science and clinical experience. They help to put interventions together into effective treatment plans, and develop strategies that facilitate recovery from mental illness. This is a position that is also qualified to work in groups or family therapy. You can find clinical psychiatrists working in private practices, offices, hospitals or mental health clinics.

How much does a clinical psychiatrist earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary in 2014 for psychiatrists was $181,880. This career path has an 18% projected job growth rate through 2022. The salary of a clinical psychiatrist largely depends on the experience, education and facility where they work. There are certain parts of the country where the pay rates may be higher or lower, but because this is a medical position, the pay rates are usually higher in comparison.

What skills are needed to become a clinical psychiatrist?

This is a highly specialized position that works with a variety of patients. Individuals in this field must have the following:

Listening: A clinical psychiatrist must be able to listen to the symptoms of their patient, as well as the observations from other mental health professionals to diagnose, recommend and implement an effective plan of treatment.

Writing: A clinical psychiatrist must be able to communicate effectively through writing to record notes, treatments and disseminate information to the right parties. A clinical psychiatrist may work with others or have their work published. Being able to write their research and information in a clear and concise manner is key.

Research: This is a clinical and research position. A clinical psychiatrist must be able to do a large amount of research to keep up with the trends and new breakthrough of treatment.

Speaking: A clinical psychiatrist must be able to speak well, as they speak at conferences, with patients, other healthcare professionals, in groups or family therapy. They must be able to communicate clearly and distinctly so that everyone will understand what they have to say.

Analysis: Being able to fully assess and analyze the symptoms of the patient is key in performing the duties of a clinical psychiatrist. It is important to be able to understand the symptoms to correctly administer treatment plans or medication.

Compassion: Mental health conditions are not to be taken lightly. They range from depression to schizophrenia and other illnesses. A high level of compassion is required to deal with patients and their families.

Decision-making: Being able to make sound decisions is one of the most integral parts of this position. Making the wrong decisions could be detrimental to the patient. It is important that all critical thinking skills are a major part of the entire process for the greatest results.

Observation: Before, during and after the recommendation of a treatment plan or medication, observation plays a key role. A clinical psychiatrist must be able to observe any behaviors or side effects that may occur as a result of treatment to make the necessary adjustments needed for the patient.

Critical thinking: Critical thinking skills must be sharp and involved in every aspect of a clinical psychiatrist’s practice. They must be able to think quickly and critically in determining the causes of the mental illness and in recommending the right medication or treatment plans. They must be able to take into account all factors, including societal, familial, emotional and socio-economic things that could be impacting the patient and their mental stability.

Coordination: A clinical psychiatrist must be able to coordinate a number of things at one time. This could mean treatment plans, records, counseling sessions, meetings with other healthcare professionals and more. Good coordination skills are essential.

Administrative: Most medical professionals utilize computers and software. A clinical psychiatrist must be able to use the latest technology and have some administrative skills in place to do their job effectively.

Internship requirements

An internship, or residency is required to complete the program. Students may work for three to eight years in a clinical hospital setting under the supervision of licensed psychiatrists.

Education requirements

There are a number of requirements needed to become a clinical psychiatrist. The first step in pursuing this career path is obtaining a bachelor’s degree. The degree must be in psychology, the physical sciences, or part of a pre-med program. Coursework for the bachelor’s degree include developmental psychology, personality psychology, abnormal psychology, life science, statistics, biopsychology and ethics.

Once the bachelor’s degree has been obtained, the individual must prepare to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) as a prerequisite for applying to medical school. This is a standardized test used in the selection of candidates for medical school.

Once the individual has been accepted into medical school, there are two different paths that can be taken to become a psychiatrist, either a Doctor of Medicine (MD), or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) program. During the program, a residency is required to move forward. Once the individual completes medical school and their residency, they can apply for the medical license and board certification. The individuals who receive the MD take the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). Once the medical license is received, the individual must take the exam for board certification offered through the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN). Certification under this umbrella must be renewed every ten years.

Although there is a lot of education involved, this can be a very lucrative career choice that could be rewarding on a number of levels. If you are interested in the sciences and enjoy the medical field, a career in clinical psychiatry may be a good choice.

Psychiatry Scholarships

American Psychological Foundation Scholarships Association of Black Psychologists Epilepsy Foundation
Elizabeth Munsterberg Koppitz Child Psychology Graduate Student Fellowship Future Counselors of America Scholarship Gallagher Koster Health Careers Scholarship
Kay Wilson Presidential Leadership Award NIH Undergraduate Scholarship NAJA Graduate Scholarship
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Psi Chi Awards and Grants Wayne F. Placek Grants
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