Job Description:

Psychiatrists diagnose and treat patients with mental health problems.

Job Category:
Health Care & Social Assistance

What you will do:

Your work will depend on which area of psychiatry you specialise in. You could work in one of the following areas of psychiatry:

  • general adult
  • old age
  • child and adolescent
  • learning disability
  • medical psychotherapy
  • forensic

You’ll assess your patient’s condition by asking them about their thoughts. You’ll also get information from other sources, like their GP, relatives and social workers.

You may carry out blood tests or scans to rule out other health conditions.

Afterwards, you’ll:

  • carry out psychiatric tests
  • prescribe medication
  • recommend treatments like counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • suggest practical ways to stay well


You’ll need :

  • knowledge of psychology
  • knowledge of medicine and dentistry
  • knowledge of English language
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • excellent listening and counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • the ability to put people at ease and inspire trust and confidence
  • the ability to understand people’s reactions
  • good investigative skills
  • the ability to work under pressure and make well-judged decisions
  • leadership and management skills
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a doctor specialising in psychiatry you’ll likely need to complete:

  • a 5-year degree in medicine, recognised by the Health Professions Council of the country within which you intend to practise
  • a 2-year foundation programme of general training
  • a 6-year specialist training programme in psychiatry

If you don’t have qualifications in science, you may be able to join a 6-year degree course in medicine. This includes a one-year pre-medical or foundation year.

If you already have a degree in a science subject (minimum 2:1) you could take a 4-year graduate entry programme into medicine. Some universities will also accept non-science graduates.

In the UK, when you apply for a course in medicine, you may be asked to take the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) or the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT). This may vary from country to country. This is used to check your suitability for a career in medicine by testing your mental abilities and behavioural characteristics, rather than your academic achievements.

Working Hours and Environment:

You may work long hours including nights and weekends. You may also be part of an out-of-hours rota system.

You may be based on a hospital ward or an outpatient department. You could also work in the community as part of a community mental health team visiting schools, residential homes and prisons.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you may go on to lead a team, or manage a unit or department. You may also progress to teaching and training students, trainee doctors and other healthcare professionals.

With experience, you could apply for senior (or consultant) roles.