Personal Qualities Needed for a Psychiatrist Career

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Psychiatrists spend many hours working with individuals to help them overcome mental disorders. They can do so through therapy, prescribing medicine or providing treatment. To do this job well, certain personal characteristics are required.

Dedication

  • Once the decision is made to become a psychiatrist, schooling is compulsory. After getting a Bachelor's degree, medical school is next. Medical school is a rigorous, expensive 4-year process. Next, 2 years' worth of internships and residency is completed. Lastly, extensive examinations must be passed to be certified as a physician and psychiatrist. Thus, becoming a psychiatrist requires over 8 years of dedication to the field.

Detachment

  • Listening to the stories of others mandates a sense of detachment: a psychiatrist must listen passively, followed by providing a thorough recommendation for treatment. Hearing the stories of patients can elicit reactions of intense emotions that must be suppressed in order to do the job well. Detachment also means not taking work home with you on a mental level. Caring about the patient is important, but maintaining a work-life balance through detachment is critical to your own mental health.

Curiosity

  • Psychiatrists explore solutions for their patients in a number of ways. Medical school teaches psychiatrists to look for solutions based in science---therefore, a science-oriented mind with a dose of curiosity serves a psychiatrist well. The job description of a psychiatrist, as indicated by myplan.com, shows that gathering clinical data is ranked high in importance. Using knowledge learned from school or experience is also important. Psychiatrists must be well-versed in the science behind the medicine and how it affects their patient. Psychiatrists must also probe their patient for information: asking the right questions can elicit answers leading to a clear solution.

People-Oriented

  • Psychiatrists work with a number of different people, but must maintain professionalism: They may like their patients on a friend level, as a family member, on a romantic level, or they may not like their patient at all. How much they personally like their patient is irrelevant. Psychiatrists must be willing to provide the same service to all of their patients. If interacting with a wide variety of personalities is not enjoyable, do not become a psychiatrist.

Empathy

  • Empathy is at the heart of a psychiatrist's work. They must be willing to look at each patient with a fresh set of eyes, careful not to stereotype. The National Institutes of Health expresses empathy as a beacon of psychiatry, because it allows psychologists to understand the experiences of the patient. Understanding a patient's experience leads them to understand their needs. In turn, through empathy, psychiatrists can prescribe the right solution to patients. Balancing empathy with detachment is one of the most challenging tasks of a psychiatrist.

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