Skip to main content
2 answers
3
Asked 923 views

what does the typical day in the life of a psychiatrist look like?

what are the tasks like? what are the goods and bads that happen frequently or have the potential to happen?

+25 Karma if successful
From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you

3

2 answers


1
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Gregory’s Answer

Hey Adilay!

Thanks for your question! I have been a psychiatrist for over 30 years so can maybe offer some answers that will be helpful. Your questions suggest you are seriously considering a career as a mental health professional. It is a great profession and there will be an increasing need for all mental health professionals, especially psychiatrists (in particular, those who work with children, teens, and young adults) in the future.

You asked about the typical day. Well, the answer depends on what sort of psychiatry work you are doing after you complete your residency program (which is after medical school and required for all doctors in all specialties). Psychiatrists have many work settings available to them - more so than most other mental health professionals. They can work in hospitals, residential programs, offices, correctional facilities, clinics, or in non-patient care roles such as for health plans or in industry. Many psychiatrists do combinations of these and most work closely with lots of other professionals (other doctors, therapists, nurses, hospital staff, administration), which again is more common for psychiatrists than other mental health professionals who typically are more office-based and do individual counseling or therapy. There are opportunities as a psychiatrist to do that too, exclusively if you want to work in an office and see clients/patients for individual therapy or other treatments (as medical professionals, psychiatrists are trained to conduct therapy as well as to utilize medications and other medical therapies to help their patients).

A typical day for most psychiatrists involves seeing patients either in a hospital, residential setting, clinic, or office and appointments can range from brief follow-ups to longer evaluation appointments and, if desired, longer therapy appointments. There is a lot of variety in practice and so it is uncommon to get bored as a psychiatrist. However, patients are usually not at their best, and those who come to see us are usually quite aware if you are interested in them, paying attention, and "in tune" with them (which means you can't be looking at a computer screen or checking your phone!). It takes practice to learn the skills of listening and responding to cues our patients give us, verbally and otherwise, and it takes practice to learn to focus and be in tune with patients.

Besides patient appointments, most psychiatrists are busy during the day completing records and doing paperwork. Also, they must make ongoing calls or secure electronic contacts with other doctors or therapists who are also working with any particular patient. If you work with kids, you need to be able to talk to school personnel or go to schools sometimes for meetings. It is all part of the job and something I enjoyed greatly when I worked with kids and their families. And meeting with parents (and if your patients are older, their own adult kids who are involved in their care) is something all psychiatrists, as do all doctors, do every day.

If you are in private practice, you also need to spend some of your day doing "business matters", although many psychiatrists in private practice end up doing that at night and on weekends (I did too). Running a medical practice is a complex business process and you have to know something about human resources, finance, and employee rights and responsibilities if you are going to do this. I saw it as a chance for me to learn a lot more about something new and those administrative skills have been very helpful to me in my later career when I have worked full time in an administrative position with a Medicaid program.

I hope that gives you a snapshot view of what it might be like for you as a psychiatrist. Your follow-up questions suggest you are concerned about the bad and what might happen. Like all jobs, there are good parts of it and not so good parts. I think the good parts are all the opportunities to use your skills to help people recover from serious problems and cope better with their lives. It is a wonderful experience to do this and to be allowed the privilege of entering someone's private world as a sacred and special visitor and helper. It is essential to not violate that privilege of the privacy afford you, which means one of the "bad" parts of the job is that you need to keep peoples' confidences even if you would love to share them with others. Another potential problem when you work with sick patients, in any branch of medicine, is that something may go wrong in spite of your best efforts. In psychiatry, it means that sometimes patients will commit suicide, or they will run away from home, or they will make poor decisions in spite of your guidance, or they will commit a crime, or could become violent towards others (or, possibly, towards you, which is why in residency training, you are taught how to watch closely for this and prevent it if at all possible). Sometimes you might be ordered to testify in court, which isn't pleasant, but could happen to you as a psychiatrist (or any other therapist, for that matter). In my years in practice, I did experience patient suicides, went to court to testify at times, had patients terminate treatment and go in a different direction that wasn't a good choice for them, and I was assaulted on a few occasions. All jobs have some inborn occupational hazards and these do exist in psychiatry, but they are rare unless you choose to work in a setting like a psychiatric hospital, where patients are often quite ill and disturbed. But even then, the liklihood of significant problems like those I mentioned is low.

I hope this is helpful! Keep asking questions and keep probing to find what is best for you! And Good Luck!!
Thank you comment icon This was super helpful, I'll definitely keep that in mind. Thank you for your input! Adilay
1
0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Irene’s Answer

Hello Adilay,

Dr. Barclay has indeed given you a comprehensive and insightful answer about the role of a Psychiatrist. I see that you're keen on exploring the field of Mental Health, and I'm here to offer you a different angle. As a retired Social Worker with experience in Mental Health Counseling, I can tell you that there are numerous career paths in this field beyond Psychiatry.

Certified and Licensed Social Workers also provide Mental Health Services, offering a diverse range of counseling services. While Psychiatrists, being Medical Doctors, have a broader medical training and can prescribe medications, many Mental Health Counseling professionals do not have this authority. Instead, they collaborate with Psychiatrists when medication is necessary following an evaluation.

I'm supplementing Dr. Barclay's response to highlight the wide array of careers in Counseling, Mental Health, and Human Services within the Mental Health sector. A typical day for a Licensed Mental Health professional can look very much like what Dr. Barclay described. You might find yourself in an office, conducting one-on-one sessions, or facilitating support groups on topics like addiction, anger management, divorce effects, parenting issues, and more.

The work environment is also diverse, from hospitals and schools to community health centers. With the right certification, you could even establish a Private Practice.

I wish you the best of luck as you navigate your way through this field or any other career path you choose to embark on. Remember, the journey is just as important as the destination!
Thank you comment icon Thank you for sharing your perspective, this was helpful. Adilay
0