Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in the field of psychiatry. They use a variety of techniques to treat patients with mental illnesses. Psychiatrists can prescribe medications to patients or treat them with psychotherapy or psychoanalysis which involves conversations with patients and analysis of patients’ problems. In some cases, patients need more than counseling and psychiatrists often prescribe medication to these patients to help chemically alleviate their symptoms. Through both medication and therapy methods, patients learn ways to cope and overcome their issues. Psychiatrists can also recommend that some patients be hospitalized. Many psychiatrists refer patients to psychologists or other mental health professionals and spend their workdays primarily managing patients who are taking psychiatric medications.
Psychiatrists often work alongside other psychiatrists in group practices or hospitals and other health professionals including social workers, psychologists, nurses and physicians who specialize in different areas of medicine. Psychiatrists can specialize in various areas of psychiatry such as addiction, pediatric, geriatric, and neuropsychiatry.
The working environment of a psychiatrist varies. Many psychiatrists are self-employed and work in private office settings where they meet with patients individually. Some psychiatrists work in hospitals and clinics and others spend their careers teaching and researching. In private practices, the workplace is often comfortable and relaxed, but in hospitals, there are usually many patients to treat and psychiatrists are under a great deal of stress. The schedule of a psychiatrist can be erratic, as some in the field work long hours and often at night and on the weekends to accommodate patients, especially when employed in a psychiatric hospital.
Prospective psychiatrists should have a caring and compassionate nature since they will be dealing with patients who have mental illnesses. Psychiatrists must also enjoy working with people, and if they run their own practice, be prepared to act in a managerial capacity.
On a daily basis, psychiatrists might perform the following duties:
- Meeting with clients and assessing them
- Engaging in psychotherapy sessions with patients
- Prescribing psychiatric medications or managing patients who take medications