How to Start a Career in Psychiatry

Psychiatrists deal with mental illness and the physical effects that this can have. Unlike psychologists, psychiatrists are qualified doctors. Mental illnesses are one of the UK’s biggest health problems, with one in four people experiencing mental health issues each year. Mental health problems are wide reaching, ranging from depression and anxiety to schizophrenia and dementia. Psychiatry is a field which is rich in development and research, and can prove to be a challenging but rewarding career.

Personal Qualities

A career in psychiatry is challenging and requires a willpower. The following personal qualities will set you in good stead for a career in this field:

  • Strong interpersonal skills

  • Good listening and observation skills

  • Empathy, understanding and patience

  • Humility and compassion

  • Stress tolerance

  • Attention to detail

  • Meticulous note taking

  • Ability to work as a team

  • Strong knowledge of and interest in the mental health field

  • Willingness to spend time educating patient and family about diagnosis and recommended treatments



If you  think that you have a personality suited to a career in psychiatry, the next step is to obtain the required qualifications.

Medical degree: Psychiatrists are qualified doctors and therefore must complete a five year medical degree.

Foundation training: After medical school, doctors are expected to complete a two year foundation training programme. During this time doctors will work in a hospital to gain hands-on skills and practical knowledge.

Speciality training: The final stage is speciality training which usually takes six years. This is broken down into a core training programme which takes three years and a higher training programme which lasts a further three years. During the higher training programme, you will focus on a specialty. Specialities include child and adolescent, forensic, general adult, old age, psychotherapy or psychiatry of learning disabilities.

Follow the Industry

If you’re serious about a career in psychiatry, then it’s essential to keep up to date with new developments in the field. The Royal College of Psychiatrists, the BMJ and the Psychiatric Times are excellent resources.


Author Bio: Ron Stewart has worked in the recruitment industry for 30 years, having owned companies in the IT, Construction and Medical sectors. He is currently running the Jobs4Group, including Jobs4Medical.


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