What's the Job Description of a Clinical Psychiatrist?
Are you interested in how the brain affects behavior? Would you like to use counseling, therapy and medication to help people live with various mental health problems? If you find yourself intrigued by the many ways the brain can change an individual's behavior, becoming a clinical psychiatrist could be for you. Schools offering Clinical Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Does a Clinical Psychiatrist Do?
As a clinical psychiatrist, you can help patients with a variety of mental health problems. You'd typically diagnose and treat mental health issues through medication and various forms of therapy. Through consultation with medical professionals and patients, you'd be responsible for offering suggestions on the best treatment methods. You may find solutions for patients by helping them break developed behavioral patterns or offering group or family therapy sessions. In some cases, you might work with patients for years through counseling and medication treatments.
How Can I Enter This Field?
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 4-year medical degree. Education and training you'll receive 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 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.
Do I Need a License?
Clinical psychiatrists are medical doctors who diagnose and treat patients and prescribe medication. As such, you'll need to be licensed by your state as a physician. You can start the process by taking a national licensing examination, though you might also be required to submit to a background check and pass a state-issued exam, as well. Regulations for physician licensing varies by state and can be found through your state's medical board. You'll need to renew your license to continue to practice medicine, though the frequency and requirements for renewal are determined by your state.
How Much Could I Earn?
Your earnings depend on the type of services you provide and where you work. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the growth potential for physicians and surgeons was 22% from 2008-2018 (www.bls.org). As of May 2010, the BLS listed the median annual salary of psychiatrists at $164,220. State institutions paid the highest average salaries, though psychiatrists working in residential facilities, outpatient centers and nursing care establishments reportedly earned an average income over $180,000 per year.
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