Psychiatrist Job Description

Pyschiatrists are doctors who diagnose, treat, and manage mental health in a variety of settings and for a diverse patient population.

Psychiatrists are doctors who diagnose, treat, and manage mental health in a variety of settings and for a diverse patient population.  They also prescribe medications and provide psychotherapy to their patients. 

Psychiatrist Job Description: Psychiatrists are the primary caregivers in the area of mental health. They assess and treat mental illnesses through a combination of psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, hospitalization, and medication.

Psychotherapy involves regular discussions with patients about their problems; the psychiatrist helps them find solutions through changes in their behavioral patterns, the exploration of their past experiences, or group and family therapy sessions. 

Psychoanalysis involves long-term psychotherapy and counseling for patients. In many cases, medications are administered to correct chemical imbalances that cause emotional problems. Psychiatrists very rarely may administer electric shock therapy to those of their patients who do not respond to, or who cannot take, medications.

Included in the Psychiatrist Job Description: Psychiatrists frequently work as part of a multi-disciplinary team composed of psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed counselors, social workers, nursing, and other disciplines to provide holistic or comprehensive medical and counseling services to patients.

Psychiatrists are physicians who serve a fundamental role in our society and have an effect upon all our lives. They diagnose mental illnesses and prescribe and administer treatment for people suffering from injury or disease.

Physicians examine patients, obtain medical histories, and order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests. They counsel patients on diet, hygiene, and preventive health care.  Psychiatrists are physicians who focus primarily on the mental health of patients.  

Working Environment

Working conditions are usually pleasant with the work environment being indoors in well lighted exam rooms and hospitals. Hours of work frequently exceed 60 hours a week in the busier practices. This typically can result in being awakened at all hours of the night and/or being asked to come in at irregular times to evaluate a patient. Psychiatrists have a slightly higher than average risk of having to deal with aggressive or violent patients.

Training and Qualifications - what you have to do to be a Psychiatrist

Formal education and training requirements for physicians are among the most demanding of any occupation—4 years of undergraduate school, 4 years of medical school, and 3 to 8 years of internship and residency, depending on the specialty selected. A few medical schools offer combined undergraduate and medical school programs that last 6 rather than the customary 8 years.

Premedical students must complete undergraduate work in physics, biology, mathematics, English, and inorganic and organic chemistry. Students also take courses in the humanities and the social sciences. Some students volunteer at local hospitals or clinics to gain practical experience in the health professions.

 Licensing and Credentialing

In all 50 states and the U.S. Territories Physicians are regulated. The usual method to be a credentialed and licensed family or general psychiatrist is:

  • Possess the amount of training and/or a degree from an accredited school of medicine.  This usually requires 4 years of pre-med and 4 years of medical school.
  • Complete an accredited program of psychiatry
  • Pass a national exam
  •   Apply for licensure in the state you wish to practice in


Significant Points for the Psychiatrist Job Description

Many physicians and surgeons work long, irregular hours; over one-third of full-time physicians work 60 hours or more per week.

Formal education and training requirements are among the most demanding of any occupation

Psychiatrists and doctors still enjoy significantly higher than average wages.

Recent changes in healthcare law requires mental health to be covered the same as other illnesses or injury.  This may result in more patients being seen and treated.

Job opportunities should be very good, particularly in rural and low-income areas

Career Progression

The outlook for psychiatrists is projected to be very good. Significant shortages exist in most areas of the country. The trend towards group practices will provide opportunities for more doctors to hold positions of leadership and authority. 

Resources for Psychiatrist Job Description:

Psychiatrist: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition.

American Psychiatric Association