Psychiatrists are doctors who diagnose and treat patients with mental health problems.

What does a psychiatrist do?

In this role, you could be:

  • assessing your patient’s condition by asking them about their thoughts
  • getting information from other sources, like GPs, relatives or social workers
  • carrying out blood tests or scans to rule out other health conditions.
  • carrying out psychiatric tests
  • prescribing medication
  • recommending treatments like counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • suggesting practical ways to stay well

What do I need to do to become a psychiatrist?

To become a psychiatrist you'll need to complete:

  • a five-year degree in medicine, recognised by the General Medical Council
  • a two-year foundation programme of general training
  • three years of core training in psychiatry
  • three years of training in a speciality

You may be able to join a six-year degree course in medicine if you do not have qualifications in science. This includes a one-year pre-medical foundation year.

If you already have a degree in a science subject, you could take a four-year graduate entry route into medicine. Some universities will also accept non-science graduates.

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) to check your suitability for a career in medicine.

There's a lot of competition for places on medical degrees. Most university admissions departments will expect you to have done some relevant paid or voluntary experience.

Related skills

  • Communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Leadership
  • Patience
  • Teamwork
  • Word processing

Academic route

  • five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English, maths and a science
  • three A levels, including chemistry, biology and either physics or maths
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

Related subjects

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Maths
  • Physics

Essential qualifications

  • A five-year degree in medicine, recognised by the General Medical Council (GMC)
  • A two-year foundation programme of general training
  • A six-year specialist training programme in psychiatry

Where to find out more

Where could I be working?

You could work in a prison, in an NHS or private hospital, at a client's home or in the community.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

Career opportunities

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 and entry on the General Medical Council (GMC) Specialist Register, you could apply for senior (or consultant) roles.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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