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Geriatric Psychiatrist: Education and Career Information

Helping older and elderly patients in treating their mental health conditions can be a positive and worthwhile investment. As adults get older, mental health disorders may become an issue, such as Alzheimer’s disease, depression, dementia and other issues. A geriatric psychiatrist helps patients with these issues and works to recommend treatment plans that can assist in improving the quality of life. This can be a lucrative and rewarding career choice.

What does a geriatric psychiatrist do?

Geriatric psychiatry is a niche area, and addresses issues that older patients have, such as losing friends or a spouse, issues with finances, fear of death or sudden illness, feelings of loneliness, resistance to change, and other occurrences that are present as one gets older. This is a medical doctor that has to evaluate the entire situation, taking into account family members, overall health and mental state, and the emotions associated with the many changes that are taking place as a result of getting older. A geriatric psychiatrist works to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients who are affected by a mental health condition and other health issues. A geriatric psychiatrist works with both the patient and their family in determining the right course of action and treatment and medicine to combat bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or any mental health condition that needs medicine for treatment.

These treatments could range from simple to severe, including depression, hallucinations, schizophrenia and other scenarios where medicine may have to be prescribed to control certain situations. You can find these physicians in hospitals, psychiatric clinics, medical facilities, mental institutions, private medical offices and in some cases, schools. Child and adolescent psychiatrists conduct long and short-term cognitive-behavior therapy, and can use individual or group settings to aid in treatment.

How much does a geriatric psychiatrist earn?

The annual salary varies with the industry, size of the organization in which the person is employed, education, location and years of experience. The average salary of a geriatric psychiatrist is about $155,000 per year. This amount varies based on the practice, setting and focus of the work that is being done.

What types of skills must a geriatric psychiatrist have?

There are a number of skills needed to be successful in this field. Some of the main skills needed are:

Compassion: Having a high level of compassion for geriatric patients who are going through mental disorders or turmoil is very important in effectively dealing with patients and their families. Being able to understand how they feel during these changes can make a huge difference in the outcome of their treatment.

Communication: Strong communication skills are needed in order to assess, diagnose and evaluate conditions and recommended treatment plans with their families. Being able to speak to and network with other professionals in this area is also key in keeping up with treatment methods and industry standards.

Reasoning: There must be adequate reasoning skills in place that will help determine the root of the problem and finding ways to administer treatment.

Critical-Thinking: Someone in this position must be able to think critically about the feelings of a geriatric patient, and how to address their concerns and needs. A thorough application of knowledge, understanding and varied treatment methods to determine the right treatment plan for the patient is essential.

Interpersonal skills: It is important to be able to work with others, as consulting with other medical professionals who are also treating the patient is a given. Working with others is crucial in this position, and being able to keep a personable and pleasant manner throughout the process regardless of how the patient reacts is important.

Evaluation: This individual must be able to evaluate all the symptoms of the patient to recommend effective treatment plans based on their actions, mental history and discussion with the patient and parents.

Analytical: An individual in this profession must be able to analyze and discuss symptoms and how to treat them. They must be able to break down symptoms, background information, and what may be causing certain situations to occur.

Internship Requirements

The internship requirements for a geriatric psychiatrist include 4 years of approved residency training in general psychiatry and 1 year of specialty training in psychiatric work with older adults in an accredited residency program to acquire a specific skill set on aging and mental health including patient care, medical knowledge, interpersonal and communication skills, practice based learning and improvement, professionalism and system-based practices.

Education Requirements

The educational requirements to become a child and adolescent psychiatrist are detailed and lengthy. The individual must complete a bachelor’s degree program. Most of the time, the students pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology, or a pre-med bachelor’s degree program.

Coursework under the bachelor’s degree program includes humanities, science, history and English. Students should have at least 120 hours of study courses and 45 hours in psychology.

After the bachelor’s degree has been attained, students should prepare to attain their Ph.D. in Psychology. This means they must also complete a master’s degree program, and have a number of requirements completed. They must also have extensive training on geriatric counseling and how to deal with senior citizens.

After the educational requirements are completed, students must pass the Examination of Professional Practice of Psychology to become licensed. Once the residency is completed, students can sit for the additional certification examination in geriatric psychiatry issued by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN).

Individuals must also complete a 4-year psychiatry residency program working with all types of patients. Students will complete work in a number of areas, including geriatric inpatient psychiatry, primary and neurology. Substance abuse and psychopharmacology are also areas of study that will be addressed. In this area, students will learn how to evaluate, treat and conduct clinical research with patients.

This is a worthwhile investment into your future career path if you enjoy working with the elderly population that can be financially and personally rewarding.

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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