Psychiatrist Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Psychiatrist, or Psychiatric Doctor, is a mental health professional responsible for diagnosing and treating psychiatric disorders, usually through medication. Their duties include studying mood, personality and behavioral disorders, discussing symptoms with patients to determine a diagnosis and prescribing medication to correct chemical imbalances in the patient’s brain.

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Psychiatrist duties and responsibilities

A Psychiatrist completes a variety of tasks throughout the day. Their responsibilities typically include the following: 

  • Use a variety of methods to evaluate a patient, such as interviewing the patient, their family or other persons. 
  • Develop a treatment plan according to the needs of the patient’s needs and extent of emotional, social, cognitive, developmental or behavioral disorder. 
  • Treat a patient using psychotherapeutic methods and medication, monitoring the effects of any medication and adjusting treatment where necessary. 
  • Consult with the patient’s Primary Care Physician, Nurses or other health care providers. 
  • Provide crisis intervention when needed.
  • Write and maintain patient and clinical records, including the type of treatment and medication administered.
  • Keep up-to-date with professional job knowledge by reading publications, attending educational conferences or maintaining professional networks. 
  • Follow ethical and legal policies, procedures and standards.
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Psychiatrist Job Description Examples

What does a Psychiatrist do?

Psychiatrists work at hospitals, mental health clinics and private practices to provide care to people with mental health conditions. They often work alongside a Psychologist to combine medication with cognitive or behavioral therapy as part of a mental health treatment plan. Psychiatrists meet with patients and evaluate their behavior by asking questions and administering psychological tests. They determine the possible causes of disordered behavior, decide if a patient could benefit from medication and explain the process of starting a new psychiatric medication. Psychiatrists closely observe the progress of their patients to determine the impact of different treatments and make adjustments.

Psychiatrist skills and qualifications

Psychiatrists should have the following skills and qualifications to provide the most comprehensive support and care to their patients: 

  • Sensitivity and perceptiveness
  • Deductive and inductive reasoning skills
  • Good written and verbal communication skills
  • Listening skills 
  • Ability to remain calm under stress
  • Empathy and compassion
  • Knowledge of psychiatric medications

Psychiatrist salary expectations

A Psychiatrist makes an average salary of $218,647 per year. Salary is based on a candidate’s education, level of experience and geographical location.

Psychiatrist education and training requirements

Psychiatrists must have a medical degree, have completed an approved psychiatric residency and be licensed to practice medicine in their location. They must also have a board certification in psychiatry and have a current Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registration in order to prescribe certain medications. 

Psychiatrist experience requirements

Experience for Psychiatrists may vary according to the specific job requirements. Psychiatrists gain much of their experience through their psychiatric residency during their degree program. Any applicant should have experience to some extent in a clinical setting, either in a private practice or hospital setting. Due to the extensive education and experience requirements for Psychiatrists to earn their degree, most recent graduates are immediately eligible for a Psychiatrist position.

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Frequently asked questions about Psychiatrists


What is the difference between a Psychiatrist and a Psychologist?

Psychiatrists and Psychologists are both mental health experts who work directly with patients to manage the symptoms of psychological problems. The primary difference is that Psychiatrists are Medical Doctors who can prescribe medication to patients. They consider a patient’s medical history to determine what chemical interactions could be contributing to their condition. They ensure that patients follow through with their treatment and track any side-effects over time.

Psychologists can suggest that a patient consider medication as part of their treatment, but they cannot prescribe it themselves. Psychologists focus on teaching healthy coping skills to their patients and helping them express and explain their emotions, thoughts and actions. Psychiatrists often prescribe psychiatric medication to help patients manage their symptoms while completing therapy with a Psychologist. Psychologists may also work with groups or families to address relationship dynamics, helping their patients learn to manage external factors.


What are the daily duties of a Psychiatrist?

On a typical day, Psychiatrists meet with several patients, usually in their own office or at a mental health facility. Before each appointment, the Psychiatrist reviews a patient’s file and plans out what topics to discuss. They interview the patient about the effectiveness of their medication or any new symptoms. Psychiatrists may have short counseling sessions with their patients or ask for updates on their work with a Therapist. 

When working with a new patient, the Psychiatrist performs a more extensive intake appointment to understand the patient’s condition. They provide patients with samples of medication, explain side effects and schedule follow-ups to track the patient’s progress. Psychiatrists may also write diagnosis statements for patients to gain access to other treatments or accommodations for their mental disorder.


What are the types of Psychiatrists?

Psychiatrists can specialize in a category of psychiatric disorders, or they can choose to focus on a particular demographic. Psychiatrists can work with addiction, eating disorders, developmental disorders, trauma and other issues that impact a patient’s mental health and ability. Pediatric Psychiatrists, Geriatric Psychiatrists and Adolescent Psychiatrists all treat specific age groups to align their mental development with their treatment plan.


What are the characteristics of a good Psychiatrist?

To successfully assess and treat patients, Psychiatrists must be active listeners who pay close attention to verbal and physical cues. When talking to patients, good Psychiatrists are able to analyze their mannerisms while paying attention to what the patient is experiencing. Successful Psychiatrists strategically gather evidence and use their medical knowledge to make treatment decisions. They’re organized and stay fully focused on each patient during an appointment.

Good Psychiatrists build trust with patients by showing compassion to their situation while upholding boundaries. They’re nonjudgmental people who are able to remain objective and composed when handling intense emotional situations. Effective Psychiatrists model mature emotional thinking and healthy behavior during sessions and uphold high standards of integrity and ethics.

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