The Duties & Responsibilities of a Psychiatrist

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A psychiatrist is a specialized doctor who diagnoses and treats many types of mental health conditions. Aspiring psychiatrists complete a medical program just as other physicians do, and then receive three years of residency training in a mental health practice. Psychiatry work is important, but it is also mentally and emotionally challenging.

Diagnosing and Treating Patients

  • Psychiatrists work in hospitals, mental health clinics and in private practice. Their primary responsibilities center on diagnosing and treating conditions. The first session with a patient often involves an assessment interview and testing. Common mental health conditions assessed by psychiatrists include anxiety, depression, ADHD, paranoia and schizophrenia. After diagnosis, psychiatrists often use a combination of behavioral change therapy and prescriptions to treat patients.

Working Conditions and Other Roles

  • The typical psychiatrist works 48 hours a week and spends about two-thirds of that time meeting with patients, according to the American Psychiatric Association. Other time is spent preparing for clients and taking notes. Psychiatrists must also stay current on trends and diagnoses by researching and attending conferences. Some also teach classes and publish articles in scholarly journals. As with other medical doctors, psychiatrists must follow federal privacy laws when treating patients. However, federal and state laws often compel psychiatrists to break confidentiality when a patient is in danger or involved in a court case.

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