A psychiatrist is a physician that specializes in the treatment of mental illnesses or disorders. As medical doctors, they can prescribe drugs, which, what most psychologists in the United States cannot. Yet recently, psychologists were allowed to write prescriptions after consulting with a psychiatrist. A Psychiatrist conducts physical examinations, order and interpret laboratory tests, do psychotherapy and may order brain imaging studies such as computed tomography (CT) scan, positron emission tomography (PET) scan, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). |
How does one become a licensed Psychiatrist? First, medical school applicants are generally required to have earned a bachelor's degree. Some medical schools require that students have completed a pre-med or closely related major in undergraduate school. Entrance to a psychiatry concentration in medical school might depend on prior coursework, though some psychiatry departments will accept any student granted general admission to medical school. While earning a Doctor of Medicine, or M.D., aspiring psychiatrist take the same core courses and learn the same basic medical skills as other medical students. Most medical schools allow students to pursue an area of focus or concentration that defines their future practice area. Students interested in working in psychiatry can pursue on this concentration during medical school as an introduction to the field's theory and practice. Psychiatric topics taught in medical school might include neurobiology, bio psychology, prescription of psychiatric drugs and diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders.
After earning a Doctor of Medicine, aspiring psychiatrist must complete further medical training through a four-year residency program in mental health. The residency may be completed at a hospital or other medical institution or through the M.D. graduate's medical school. Psychiatric residencies include a range of sub-specialized training, such as working with children and adolescents. During this time, psychiatrists work hands-on with patients and often continue to pursue teaching and research projects under the guidance of medical school faculty. Some psychiatric residency programs include continued coursework in psychiatry with lecture and lab components. After completing their residency, some prospective psychiatrist chooses to complete a fellowship program in general psychiatry or a sub specialty area, such as geriatric psychiatry or neuropsychiatry. These physicians can be licensed to practice psychiatry.
A common misconception about them is that they only treat people with severe mental illness, like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, diseases for which medication is the mainstay of treatment, leaving psychotherapy to psychologists and patients with less severe problems. In fact, they can do a lot more than that.
A Psychiatrist who works at clinics and hospitals certainly see many hard cases. The major patients they see are severely mentally ill, but there are others who are not. They practice a lot of psychotherapy in their private office and that most of their patients there are not on medication. Increasingly, however, those in private practice spend their time with medication management and not psychotherapy. Other mental health providers usually do therapy sessions, and when they see a patient who could benefit from medication, they send the patient to a psychiatrist for an evaluation and possibly a prescription. It is sure evidence that health care providers work as a team.
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