Job Description


A psychiatrist is a physician who is specially trained in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses.

While the field of psychiatry has traditionally been associated with psychoanalysis, most psychiatrists today offer a variety of services, including treatments tailored to the specific biological, psychotherapeutic and psychosocial needs of their patients.

Psychiatrists are generally considered the medical experts for the interface of mind, brain and body.

Mental illness is like other medical conditions; it can range from relatively mild to simple or complex self-limiting conditions to life-threatening, severe disorders.

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates approximately 18.6 percent of adults ages 18 and older in the U.S. have conditions that could be diagnosable as mental illness. That’s the equivalent of 43.7 million adults.




Psychiatry is one of the oldest medical specialty fields. It is constantly evolving as new discoveries are uncovered through research on the brain.

Recent neuroscience advances have led to important new technologies used in the diagnosis and treatment of a multitude of mental disorders.

Brain imaging and new pharmaceuticals, among other emerging innovations, have led to the development of mental illness treatments that are as effective as treatments in other medical specialties.

Psychiatrists are responsible for analyzing a patient's mental health status and providing the necessary treatment. There responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Diagnosing mental issues

  • Developing treatment plans

  • Admitting patients to hospitals

  • Ordering tests or examinations

  • Prescribing medications and other treatments

  • Recommending therapies

Additionally, they have assessment sessions with their patients to gauge responses to treatment and determine mental disorders.  




Psychiatrists must be able to engage with people and use their medical expertise to make a comprehensive assessment of patients.

They combine medication along with therapy sessions to develop treatment plans and help people overcome mental disorders.

Their skills include the following: 


Psychiatrists must be able to apply facts and principles to issues to determine conclusions and solve problems. They must use knowledge and logic to find patters in happenings and determine causes and provide solutions.


Psychiatrists must be able to clearly convey thoughts and ideas to gauge patient issues. They must also be great listeners and ask questions that involve the patient and make the environment open and relaxed.


Must be very compassionate and able to empathize with a patient's pain and other difficulties. They are able to make people feel comfortable and meet them at their emotional level to humanize themselves and let people know they care.

Stress Management

Must be emotionally stable and deal with stress effectively, so they can help others who cannot deal with their emotions or stress. Must be a solid foundation and be able to handle stress and separate personal emotion so as to stay objective and be effective in treatment.


Psychiatrists must have a solid ethical code and keep sessions with patients confidential as they can greatly affect people's lives. Must know that there could be consequences for error.


Psychiatrists interact with a range of people from all walks of life, therefore they must be open-minded and tolerant of different cultures and circumstances. Since they are in a research field, they must be open to new studies and findings as to adapt with changing times.


People have to trust their psychiatrist. The job is all about inspiring patients to confide in you and trust you with their problems. If you aren't trustworthy, you will never make it as a Psychiatrist.


Psychiatrists need to be very patient because of the long sessions with patients and while conducting the required research to become a better professional. They must understand it takes time to see results and be willing to put in that time.


Psychiatrists must be able to gauge how people react and read their body language to decipher their feelings and predict their actions. They must be able to determine if people could be a risk to themselves or others and to distinguish truths from lies.


Working Conditions


An average workweek for a psychiatrist is generally around 48 hours. Activities required in any given week may include administrative duties, teaching responsibilities, consultation with clients and colleagues and research. Most psychiatrists, however, spend over 60 percent of their time working directly with patients.

Two-thirds of these patients are generally seen on an outpatient basis while the rest are seen in a hospital setting. In recent years, partial hospital or day programs and community and residential programs have grown in popularity.

Psychiatric hospitalization has become more focused, more intense, with a much shorter duration that seen in previous years.

A psychiatrist may work in a private practice or a group association much the way other physicians do. Psychiatrists can also be found practicing in the public sector, such as in Veteran's Administration facilities or state hospitals.

Some work in community mental health centers that are set up for the clientele unique to psychiatry. Other settings where a psychiatric practice may flourish include medical schools, general hospitals and HMOs and specialized psychiatric hospitals.




Salary Outlook