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Psychiatric Consultant: Job Description & Salary

Psychiatric consultants may be responsible for a large number of patients that they do not meet with themselves. This article looks at the nature of their role in mental health care as well as the typical salary psychiatric consultants earn.

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Career Definition of a Psychiatric Consultant

A psychiatric consultant may also be known as a consultant psychiatrist. These psychiatric consultants focus on people who have mental health issues. Some specialize in behavioral problems or personality disorders, while others may specialize in specific age groups. Some psychiatric consultants may work directly with patients to discuss their treatment options and programs, but it is more common for them to focus on communicating with other mental health professionals who directly interact with patients.

Psychiatric consultants serve a vital role in team treatment plans. They may manage a number of cases and spend more time collaborating and consulting with other mental health professionals, such as health care managers. In this capacity they are more of a resource and guide. They review patient information, discuss treatment outcomes and help develop treatment strategies that may be more effective. They participate in diagnosing patients although they do not meet with the patients face to face. Their duties primarily involve telephone consultations and creating treatment plans. They may also be expected to visit the clinics and staff they collaborate with.

Educational Requirements Medical degree, residency, certification
Job Skills Patience, compassion, attention to detail, communication skills, interpersonal skills, sensitivity, teamwork skills, analytical skills, problem-solving skills, adaptable, organizational skills
Median Salary (2018)* $97,361
Job Outlook (2016-2026)** 11% (all psychiatrists)

Sources: *PayScale; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Many years of postsecondary study and training are required to become a psychiatrist. This typically starts with earning a bachelor's degree that will prepare graduates to be accepted into medical school. Psychiatrists must graduate from medical school and spend several years completing their residency requirements. A minimum of three years of residency training in psychiatry is required and once the residency requirements have been fulfilled it is necessary to take an exam to earn certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Psychiatrists that wish to specialize can also opt to complete a fellowship program.

Required Skills

Communication skills are extremely important for psychiatric consultants because they need to be able to quickly obtain clear information about patients and they also need to be able to provide clear directions about treatments. Teamwork skills are also crucial because they need to be able to work effectively with the mental health professionals they collaborate with to ensure patients are efficiently and correctly diagnosed and treated. They also need to have strong organizational skills so that they can ensure they visit clinics and healthcare professionals they work with as often as needed and respond to all correspondence as quickly as possible. Psychiatric consultants should also have strong problem-solving skills because they need to be able to come up with new strategies when existing treatments aren't working.

Career Outlook and Salary

PayScale reported a median annual salary of $97,361 for psychiatric consultants as of 2018. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not distinguish between psychiatric consultants and other psychiatrists. Over the ten year period from 2016 to 2026 the BLS expects all psychiatrists to see job growth of 11%. This is higher than the average job growth rate that the BLS projects for all occupations during this timeframe, which is 7%.

Related Careers

Since psychiatrists are mental health experts those considering this career field may also be interested in other occupations in the mental health field. The articles linked to here provide more information about a number of mental health careers that may appeal to aspiring psychiatric consultants.

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