What is a Psychiatrist?
Psychiatrists are physicians who evaluate, diagnose and treat patients who are affected by mental health issues, no matter temporary or chronic.
A psychiatrist is a certified medical doctor who chooses to specialize in mental health disorders. They are fully equipped with a deep understanding of physical and mental health, and how they overlap. They are dedicated to providing a course of treatment and care specifically catered to the patient’s needs. They are also qualified to assess both the mental and physical aspects of psychological problems.
Upon diagnosis, a psychiatrist provides a range of treatments such as psychological treatment, medication, or brain stimulation therapy. They provide you with information about your condition and help you understand your symptoms and ways to treat them.
Roles and Responsibilities of Psychiatrists include:
- Order or perform a medical laboratory and psychological tests
- Evaluate and understand the relationship between emotional, medical illnesses and its possible relation to genetics and family history
- Evaluate medical and psychological data
- Provide urgent care for sudden mental illness
- Help patient manage and live with long-term mental illness
- Make a diagnosis and work with the patient to develop treatment plans
- Prescribe medication to patients to treat mental health disorders
Generally, Psychiatrists are able to work in public and private hospitals as community mental health centres. Many psychiatrists also do research work, provide legal advice, and teach in schools and universities.
Skills Needed to Become A Psychiatrist
- Ability to understand and empathize
You have the ability to understand and solve problems faced by your patients. As such, you should have the ability to have compassion and empathy towards others. You need to be able to understand the problems and challenges faced. Then, you should not internalize the issue at hand but rather keep your emotions neutral and focus on helping your patient effectively.
- Good communication skills
The ability to communicate efficiently with people is also a very crucial skill to have. You should be a capable listener. One of the most significant parts of your relationship with your patient is understanding their challenges and struggles faced. You should pay attention to the intonation, expression, and tone of voice used when listening. Besides that, you should also be a capable speaker. Many times, you would be required to not only speak to your patient but also their loved ones in communicating the issue at hand. You must be able to explain specific medical terminology to other medical professionals as well as average people with little to no medical knowledge.
- Emotional resilience
Psychiatry is commonly known as a mentally draining field. Working in challenging situations, you should be able to monitor developing situations and anticipate issues. Your daily roles and responsibilities include listening to struggles and challenges faced by your patients. Most times, your patients come to you at their last straw. It is very important for you to be emotionally resilient. You need to be able to deal with many patients that have severe disorders and help them without letting your emotions cloud your judgment.
Difference Between A Psychiatrist & A Psychologists
Psychiatrist are medical doctors that specialize in diagnosis and treatment of mental illness
Psychologists are NOT doctors but they undergo special training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness
Psychiatrist provides a wide range of treatments such as: medication, general medical care, stimulation therapies and psychological treatments
Psychologists CANNOT provide medication. Instead, they focus on assessing human behavior and providing psychological treatments
Psychiatrist treat people with more complex mental health conditions such as: severe depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder
Psychologists treat people with less severe mental health issues that can be solved without medication such as anxiety, learning difficulties, depression, and behavioural problems
General Pathway of Becoming A Psychiatrist in Australia
To become a Psychiatrist in Australia, it generally takes 11-12 years upon stepping into university. Firstly, you need to gain a Medical Degree from a university, which takes 5-7 years to complete. Upon completion, you are expected to spend at least 2 years receiving general medical training in a hospital. Then, to become a certified psychiatrist, you need to complete at least 5 years training under the supervision of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP). This training can be completed in hospitals, clinics, or health clinics. All psychiatrists must also be registered with the relevant medical board in Australia or New Zealand in order to see patients.
General Entry Requirements to Become A Psychiatrist in Australia
To enroll in a Masters of Psychiatry course, applicants must have one of the criterias below:
- A postgraduate coursework for Doctor of Medicine OR an undergraduate degree in Medicine
- At Least one year of documented experience as a practicing doctor
- Hold current medical registration in the country of work
However, do keep in mind that upon completion of the course, graduates do not necessarily acquire the qualification to work as a Psychiatrist in Australia.
*NOTE: Other levels of qualification can be accepted subject to the discretion of your university of choice. For more information, contact us!
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*NOTE : Different universities have different entry requirements. Contact us for more information.
For more information of pursuing Medicine in Australia, read here:
General Pathway of Becoming A Psychiatrist in Australia
Upon completion of any Year 12 equivalent, applicants will go through multiple stages before become a Psychiatrist in Australia:
- A medical degree
- Currently employed into a Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP)-accredited training program in Psychiatry OR have an equivalent position, or have previously done psychiatry training in Australia or overseas
- Currently medically registered in Australia
Top Universities to Study Psychiatry in Australia
#1 University of Sydney
#2 University of Melbourne
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About the Author
Raveena Rakni Suresh Raj
Leo baby & psych major