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How to become a psychiatrist in the UK

Psychiatrists are medically-trained doctors who have chosen to specialise in the field of psychiatry. Psychiatrists work with individuals suffering from a wide range of mental health problems. A career in psychiatry may be challenging but highly rewarding. This article will help you to discover how to become a psychiatrist in the UK.

What does a psychiatrist do?

Duties Psychiatrists are trained professionals who aid individuals suffering from mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, eating disorders, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Psychiatrists are trained to assess their patients’ state of mind, diagnose mental illnesses, and use psychological treatments and drugs to aid patients in recovering from their illnesses. Psychiatrists are qualified doctors. This allows them to write prescriptions for psychiatric medications that may be required to treat some mental health problems. Psychiatrists can also order physical examinations, laboratory tests and brain imaging studies. Psychiatrists use a biopsychosocial model to understand patients’ problems. They therefore take a patient’s family, culture, surroundings, work environment, past history and relevant medical issues into account when diagnosing and treating illness.

What training is required to work as a psychiatrist?

Qualifications required Psychiatry degree training is highly challenging. All prospective psychiatrists must possess medical degrees. A degree of this kind takes around five years to complete. To study for a medical degree, school leavers must achieve high A level grades in science-based subjects. At least five GCSE passes in the core subjects of Maths, English and Science are required to enter onto a medical degree. On completion of a medical degree, a prospective psychiatrist must undertake two years of foundation training. This is then followed by six years of speciality training in the field of psychiatry. Psychiatrist education therefore takes at least 13 years to complete. To work as a consultant psychiatrist, a CCT (Certificate of Completion of Training) is required. This allows for registration on the specialist register of the GMC (General Medical Council). The Royal College of Psychiatrists is the professional and education body that works with psychiatrists in the UK and Ireland. The College organises the qualification examination for psychiatrists, known as the MRCPsych. It develops continuing professional development programmes to aid qualified psychiatrists in developing and refreshing their skills throughout the course of their psychiatrist careers.

What are the six main psychiatric specialities?

Specialities within psychiatry include: -General adult psychiatry
-Geriatric psychiatry
-Child and adolescent psychiatry
-Forensic psychiatry
-Learning disability psychiatry

Where do psychiatrists work?

Place of work Trained psychiatrists may work in outpatient or in-patient departments in hospitals. The majority of trained psychiatrists work in the National Health Service (NHS). Others work in private practice. Psychiatrists work as part of a larger community mental health team (CMHT) which may consist of other physicians, mental health nurses, psychologists and social workers and occupational therapists.

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