psychiatrists work with patients in the diagnosis of mental illness. they accomplish this by analyzing patients' behavior, conducting interviews with friends and family members, and asking people to fill in questionnaires. after identifying the cause, a psychiatrist may prescribe medication such as mood stabilizers, and may further develop a treatment plan to help the patients cope and overcome the symptoms of their condition. psychiatrists must be patient, empathic and good at analyzing body language and other behaviors. psychiatry is a rapidly growing profession in the united states. the us bureau of labor statistics (bls) expects the job growth rate in this field to be 24 percent during 2010 to 2020, which is much faster than the national average. as a result, more and more people are trying to enter the field.
how long does it take to become a psychiatrist?
individuals interested in psychiatry must first complete a bachelor's degree before moving on to medical school. typically, an undergraduate degree can be completed in 4 years, and students may major in any field of their choice. however, most prefer to major in fields like biology, chemistry, psychology, or sociology. with the undergraduate program completed, students will then apply to medical schools for an additional four year program. it is here that they will begin to build upon their basic knowledge of the sciences in a medical context, and become more proficient at diagnosing mental illnesses in people.
after this 8 year period of medical school training, students will have to complete a two-year residency program to obtain a degree in psychiatry. this holds true for every sub-specialty within psychiatry, meaning that you will have to put in two years each if you choose to specialize in child psychiatry and adult psychiatry. the residency is necessary in order to gain proper practical experience by working with patients. to summarize, the minimum time required to become a licensed psychiatrist
is 10 years, with additional time needed if you wish to specialize further within the field.
is it worth the effort?
the bls reported the median psychiatrist salary
to be $174,170 as of may 2011. the top ten percent in the field were earning close to $200,000 annually; the state of oregon was among the highest paying state, offering $229,040 annually. these numbers will obviously vary based on the region, employer, and level of personal expertise. most psychiatrists choose to work within public hospitals, while some may set up an independent practice for patient consultation.