- Diagnose and treat patients with mental health problems
- You'll need excellent listening and communication skills
- You may go on to lead a team, or manage a unit or department
As a psychiatrist, your work will depend on which area of psychiatry you specialise in. You could work in one of the following areas of psychiatry: general adult, old age, child and adolescent, learning disability, medical, psychotherapy, forensic.
- Asses your patient's condition by asking them about their thoughts
- Get information from other sources like their GP, relatives and social workers
- Carry out blood tests or scans to rule out other health conditions
- Carry out psychiatric tests
- Prescribe medication
- Recommend treatments like counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
- Suggest practical ways to stay well
You may be based on a hospital ward or an outpatient department. You could also work in the community as part of a community mental health team visiting schools, residential homes and prisons. Your working environment might be emotionally demanding at times.
To be a psychiatrist, you'll need counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach, knowledge of psychology, medicine, dentistry and the English language, the ability to understand people's reactions, excellent verbal communication skills, and sensitivity and understanding.
You'll need to complete a 5-year degree in medicine that is recognised by the General Medical Council (GMC), a 2-year foundation programme of general training, 3 years of core training in psychiatry, and 3 years of training in your speciality.
If you don't have qualifications in science, you may be able to join a 6-year degree course in medicine. This includes a one-year pre-medical or foundation year. If you already have a degree in a science subject, you could take a 4-year graduate entry programme into medicine. Some universities will also accept non-science graduates.
When you apply for a course in medicine, you may be asked to take the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) or the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT).
Places on medical degrees are competitive, so university admissions departments will expect you to have done some relevant paid or voluntary experience.
You'll need to register with the General Medical Council and pass enhanced background checks.
With experience, you may go on to lead a team, or manage a unit or department. You may also progress to teaching and training students, trainee doctors and other healthcare professionals.
With experience and entry on the General Medical Council (GMC) Specialist Register, you could apply for senior (or consultant) roles.