Career as a Psychiatrist
A psychiatrist is a doctor who has specialized in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illness. They can prescribe medicines unlike psychologists, and offer a range of treatments such as medication, general care including assessing your physical health and effects of medication, psychological treatments, and brain stimulation therapies such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). As a part of their job, they help with the following
- Treatment of sudden mental illness
- Help with managing a long-term mental health condition
- Work with patients on an individual basis or with their partners or families
- Offer second opinions/advice
- Give advice about lifestyle changes
- Admit patients to a hospital, if required
It is an exciting and interesting career path that enables you to make a real difference in the lives of people who are suffering from some mental disorder. It is also a good field to pursue if you are particularly interested in knowing how the mind works.
Eligibility to become Psychiatrist
To become a psychiatrist, you need to pursue MBBS and then do MD. Aspirants can also opt for a diploma in Psychiatric medicine (DPM) from a recognized educational institute. MD is a three-year course while the diploma course is of a 2-year duration. Apart from this, the National Board of Examinations also has a Diploma of National Board Exam (DNB). This DNB is seen as equivalent to an MD degree.
The course is vast and includes psychology, anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, neurosurgery, and neurology. It also involves training at mental hospitals.
Types of Job Roles Psychiatrist
While studying psychiatry, you will have the option of choosing from a variety of specialisations that can help you decide what kind of a psychiatrist you want to be. Below is the list of various job profiles:
Substance Abuse Therapy
If you choose to specialise in substance abuse therapy, you will deal with patients who have dependencies on substances such as alcohol and drugs. You will be responsible for treating these patients individually or in groups, prepare recovery plans for them with their family members and prevent future substance abuse. You can work in a substance abuse rehabilitation centre.
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists deal with children (up to the age of 18) and their families. The child and adolescent psychiatrist performs a diagnostic exam to assess the current problem and evaluate if the problem is genetic, physical, cognitive, educational, developmental or related to family, society or peer pressure.
This branch of psychiatry deals with the treatment of adult disorders (people who are above the age of 18). Depending on the disorder, diagnoses can include anxiety disorders, mood disorders, general psychiatry, addiction medicine and any other issues that cause mental stress.
Psychosomatic medicine, which is also known as consultation-liaison psychiatry involves a complex diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric symptoms and disorders. Psychosomatic medicine psychiatrists counsel patients regarding emotional and psychiatric issues, which affect their health. They create care plans, including the prescription of medicines, and run diagnostic tests.
Emergency psychiatry deals with the application of psychiatry in emergency situations. Examples of such situations include attempted suicide, depression, psychosis, substance abuse or violence. Care of patients who are in need of intervention includes crisis stabilization of disorders such as acute or chronic mental disorders.
Geriatric Psychiatry focuses on the evaluation, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of emotional and mental disorders in the elderly. Some of these disorders include dementia, anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia. The geriatric psychiatrist is responsible for listening and responding to the needs and concerns of older adults and working out a treatment plan.
Employment Opportunities for Psychiatrists
There are plenty of job opportunities for psychiatrists as it is a lucrative career. Psychiatrists can seek employment in:
- Rehabilitation centres
- Private practice
Top Recruiting Companies for Psychiatrists
- Some of the leading hospitals where one can work as a psychiatrist are
- National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS)
- PGIMER, Chandigarh
- Institute of Behaviour and Allied Sciences, New Delhi
- Dr. Vidyasagar Institute of Mental Health, Amritsar
- Antara, Kolkata
- World Brain Center Hospital
- State Mental Health Institute, Dehradun
Pay Scale/Salary of Psychiatrist
The average salary in this profession can range from Rs. 123,252 - Rs 1,957,428.This number depends on the years of experience one has in this field and also the institute from where you have studied.
Note: The above figures are an estimate and may vary from individual to individual and company to company.
Books & Study Material to Become Psychiatrist
Apart from studying the course curriculum, you can also refer a few books to gain more in-depth knowledge of the subject. Listed below are some of the best books and study material on psychiatry:
- Kaplan and Sadock’s Clinical Psychiatry and Synopsis of Psychiatry
- Effective Treatments in Psychiatry (Kenneth R. Silk, Peter Tyrer)
- Review of Psychiatry by Dr. Praveen Tripathi
Pros of becoming a Psychiatrist
This profession is a bit challenging as psychiatrists are faced with the difficult task of diagnosing and treating patients with mental health disorders. However, the advantages that it offers are worth the efforts and the challenge. Let’s take a look at some of the pros
Flexible work environment
Psychiatrists have the option of working in different environments such as psychiatric hospitals, mental health clinics, NGOs, clinics or can have their own private practice. They have the flexibility to work in a variety of work settings and the work environment is usually calm and private.
The field of psychiatry has many opportunities for growth and career advancement. Psychiatrists can also choose to mentor students, teach at universities or undertake research studies.
Psychiatry is a profession which is devoted to helping others. So, the gratification and job satisfaction that one gets out of it can be really rewarding.
High Earning Job
Psychiatry is a high paying job. Psychiatrists who have their own private practice earn even better than those who work in hospitals or clinics. The monetary benefits can be quite rewarding.
Cons of becoming a Psychiatrist
Though psychiatry is a rewarding field but just like everything, there are certain disadvantages to being a psychiatrist. Some of those are:
Dealing with patients can be draining and stressful. One of the biggest challenges of this is the involvement with people and managing their mental and emotional struggles. They have to deal with people from varied backgrounds and with various kinds of ailments. Psychiatrists have to master the art of dealing effectively in such cases and practice stress management techniques.
Though one of the advantages is that you have a flexible schedule but at the same time if you have your own practice, psychiatrists have to be on call and manage patients. The patient issue can arise even at an inconvenient time.
Apart from meeting patients and help with their diagnosis and treatments, psychiatrists also have to put in work to review the patient notes, and also attend after-hours emergency calls from patients. This hampers the work-life balance, leaving psychiatrists with less time for their personal commitments.