Do You Have the Right Qualifications?
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who treat mental health problems. To pursue a career in psychiatry, you should have a commitment to education, a natural desire to help people, and several key qualities. See how many of these you possess:
|Are you perceptive?||Yes or No|
|Are you a skilled communicator?||Yes or No|
|Do you have empathy for others?||Yes or No|
|Do you handle stress well?||Yes or No|
|Are ethics important to you?||Yes or No|
|Are you good at building relationships?||Yes or No|
|Are you interested in general medicine?||Yes or No|
|Are you committed to continuing education?||Yes or No|
|Do you have analytical skills?||Yes or No|
|Do you enjoy school?||Yes or No|
Why Should You Consider These Questions?
Are you perceptive?
Psychiatrists need a keen sense of perception and the ability to identify a patient's honesty and comfort level through their body language and other non-verbal cues.
Are you a skilled communicator?
In this field, you will need outstanding listening skills when working with patients, and the ability to clearly express yourself orally to patients, their families and your colleagues. Strong writing skills are also necessary to compose reports and patient files.
Do you have empathy for others?
Every doctor should be compassionate, but this necessity is magnified for psychiatrists, who work with patients struggling with mental health disorders. You should be naturally empathetic and tolerant of those with behavioral and emotional issues.
Do you handle stress well?
Along with handling medical emergencies when they arise, psychiatrists have to be level-headed and calming to help patients work through their sometimes high levels of stress.
Are ethics important to you?
A dedication to ethics is critical to succeed in this career. Patients will need to trust you to maintain confidentiality and advise treatments that are in their best interest, regardless of your personal opinions.
Are you good at building relationships?
In psychiatry, patient treatment may last for months or years. Psychiatrists must be skilled at not only building, but also maintaining relationships with their patients for extended periods of time.
Are you interested in general medicine?
Your medical school curriculum will require study of and hand-on experience in many medical disciplines, including areas such as surgery, internal medicine and obstetrics.
Are you committed to continuing education?
Upon completing your formal education and beginning to practice in this field, you will need to continue learning throughout your career, as new drugs and treatment strategies are constantly being developed.
Do you have analytical skills?
In developing a plan of care for each patient, a psychiatrist must analyze a variety of information, including patient histories, information received from patient interviews, possible medical issues, and various pharmaceutical treatment options.
Do you enjoy school?
Psychiatrists receive the same postsecondary education as all other medical doctors. This includes an undergraduate degree, a medical school degree, and a residency that lasts approximately three years. This may take a total of 11 years or more to complete.
If you answered yes to the majority of these questions, psychiatry may be a good career choice for you. After completing your educational and residency requirements, you may find jobs in psychiatric hospitals, general care hospitals, or substance abuse facilities, or work for yourself. Because more than half of psychiatrists work in private practice, you may want to include general business courses in your education to help you maintain and build your practice.