A psychiatrist is a doctor who looks after patients with mental health problems, such as anxiety.
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What does a psychiatrist do?

Psychiatrists work in a team of health and social-care professionals to assess, diagnose and treat patients who have been referred to them by GPs and other health professionals. They work with patients who are experiencing mental health problems such as:

  • schizophrenia
  • depression
  • alcoholism or drug addiction
  • eating disorders
  • learning disabilities
  • phobias
  • post-traumatic stress disorder

The type of work will depend on which area of psychiatry they specialise in. They may work in one of the following areas of psychiatry:

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

Psychiatrists assess a patient’s condition by asking them about their thoughts. They also get information from other sources, such as a patient's GP, relatives and social workers. They also work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as nurses, social workers, psychologists and occupational therapists.


What do I need to do to become a psychiatrist?

To become a psychiatrist you'll need to complete a five-year degree course in medicine. You'll then take on paid work placements to complete your psychiatrist training. There's a two-year foundation programme of general training, followed by specialist training, lasting around six years.


Related skills

  • Communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork

Academic route

  • Five GCSEs (A-C), including English, maths and science
  • Three A levels at grades AAB in subjects such as chemistry, biology and either physics or maths

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?

The majority of psychiatrists work within the NHS. There are opportunities for part-time as well as full-time work. 


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