October 12, 2021

Psychiatry as a career

Meaning of Psychiatry:

Psychiatry is the medical specialty devoted to the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of mental disorders. These include various maladaptations related to mood, behaviour, cognition, and perceptions.

The term psychiatry was first coined by the German physician Johann Christian Reil in 1808 and literally means the ‘medical treatment of the soul’ (psych- ’soul’ from Ancient Greek psykhē ’soul’; -iatry ’medical treatment’ from Gk. iātrikos ’medical’ from iāsthai ’to heal’). A medical doctor specializing in psychiatry is a psychiatrist.

Now, many of you might be wondering that psychiatry & psychology are the same. But they are not. Psychiatry & Psychology are very different. So, let’s understand all differences between psychiatry & psychology.

Psychiatry vs Psychology

Although psychologists and psychiatrists basically study the same mental health topic, their research methods on this topic are quite different.

Psychiatrists study for a medical degree in the field of mental health/psychiatry, either MD (Doctor of Medicine) or DO (Doctor of Osteopathy). After graduating with any degree, they will take an exam to gain permission to practice in their field in the selected state. Then they must continue to practice in the hospital for at least four years under the supervision of a senior doctor. The psychiatrist must also renew his practice certificate every 10 years.

Psychologists study medical graduate courses for four to six years to earn a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) or PsyD (Doctor of Psychology) degree. They must also complete an exam to obtain a license to practice professional in the selected state.

As a certified medical professional, psychiatrists are authorized to diagnose and treat registered cases of mental illness. Typically, you will find psychiatrists practicing psychiatry in major hospitals, rehab centers, medical colleges, nursing homes, or private institutions.

Psychologists do not have the right to prescribe medication. Instead, they recommend talking therapy and exercises best suited for mild mental illness, and all of this is done through careful observation and consultation with the patient. They also appear in places similar to psychiatrists, but prefer to establish private clinics.

Before contacting a psychiatrist or psychologist, you should first consider the type of mental health problems you are facing.

If the person you care about is under a lot of stress and shows signs of anxiety and depression, it is best to consult a psychologist. Psychologists will take them to psychotherapy to ease their worries.

When a person experiences a serious mental illness, it is best to consult a psychiatrist. This is evident through extreme fluctuations in mood, behaviour, and unusual patterns of interruptions in daily life due to mental health problems. The psychiatrist will be able to diagnose the problem and provide the best medicine to help control your mental state.

However, in many cases, consulting a psychologist and psychiatrist can be beneficial. In diagnosing and treating mental illness, the two often work together.

Clear? Great.

Now, let’s go through all skills and abilities required to pursue a career in psychiatry.

Skills and abilities

Although psychologists and psychiatrists basically study the same mental health topic, their research methods on this topic are quite different.

1) Excellent Diagnostic Skills-

Psychiatrists must be able to analyze patient comments, symptoms, and test results based on the vast amount of knowledge they have acquired in medical school to develop diagnosis and treatment plans. This requires not only a large amount of information memory, but also the ability to reason, prioritize, and group responses to arrive at personalized solutions. Understanding human biology, psychology, social behaviours of groups and individuals, and cultural differences play an important role in your ability to accurately diagnose patients’ diseases.

2) Good Listening Skills-

A psychiatrist must be an enthusiastic listener, and be able to hear what the patient is saying, but also to distinguish what he has not said. You need to pay attention to the tone and expression of the patient when discussing different topics, and be alert to repetitive comments that may indicate strong feelings. It is also important that the psychiatrist can put aside his preconceptions and be open to what each patient says and the differences between one patient and another. You must be an active listener, listening without interrupting, but knowing when to ask the right questions.

3) Ability to Communicate Well-

Psychiatrists must be able to communicate with many people other than the patient. You can talk with family members to understand other perspectives on the patient’s problems and assess family dynamics. You often have to speak with other healthcare professionals to coordinate the patient’s treatment plan. Psychiatrists must be able to explain specific medical terms to other medical and non-professional professionals who may have limited medical knowledge. You will take notes on these different conversations and put the comments in the patient’s file for future reference, so mastering spoken and written language is critical.

4) Empathy Without Internalizing-

To be effective, a psychiatrist must care for his patients and sympathize with their problems. Although you may not have personally experienced similar problems, you need to be able to understand them in order to analyze them and determine a treatment plan. However, listening to other people’s problems can be stressful. A psychiatrist must be independent enough to avoid stress and emotional confusion for the patient.

Now, let’s look at some of the career options which a person, interested in psychiatry, may pursue.

Best Career Options/Jobs in the field of Psychiatry-

Those with a degree in psychiatry can expect good employment opportunities. Due to increasing mental stress and pressure in society, the professions in psychiatry are increasing. Psychiatry offers a wide range of job opportunities within its subspecialties. Under current circumstances, students who have a career in psychiatry have many job opportunities.

Here are some specializations in the field of psychiatry-

Addiction psychiatry
Forensic psychiatry
Adult Psychiatry
Psychosomatic medicine
Consultation-liaison psychiatry
Emergency psychiatry
Geriatric psychiatry
Cross-cultural psychiatry
Child and adolescent psychiatry

Have a look at some of the job profiles in the field of psychiatry:

Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist
Forensic Psychiatrist
Clinical Psychiatrist
Staff Psychiatrist
Prison Psychiatrist
Behavioural Specialist

Now, let’s look at some courses for you to excel in psychiatry.


Some Courses for Psychiatry:

  • Diploma in Psychiatric Medicine (DPM)
  • Diploma in Psychiatric Nursing
  • Post Graduate Diploma in Psychiatry
  • Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Science (MBBS)
  • Doctor of Medicine (MD) in Psychiatry
  • Doctor of Medicine (DM) in Neuroradiology
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) in Psychiatric Social Work
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) in Psychiatric Nursing
  • Master of Philosophy (M.Phill) in Psychiatric Social Work

Reading about these courses, you must be wondering that where to pursue all of these?

Universities to pursue Psychiatry as a Career:

These are some of the best universities to pursue Psychiatry as a Career:

  1. Mahatma Gandhi Institutes of Medical Sciences, Wardha
  2. Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry
  3. King George’s Medical University, Lucknow
  4. Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh
  5. Armed Forces Medical College, Pune
  6. Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research, Chennai
  7. King Edward Memorial Hospital and Seth Gordhandas Sunderdas Medical College, Mumbai
  8. Kasturba Medical College, Manipal
  9. Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, Bengaluru
  10. Grant Medical College, Mumbai
  11. Osmania Medical College, Hyderabad
  12. St. John’s Medical College, Bengaluru
  13. Dr. D. Y. Patil Medical College, Hospital & Research Centre, Pune

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