Careers in Psychiatry
Psychiatry, an important branch of the medical profession
concerned with the study and treatment of mental illness, is gradually gaining a
lot of importance. It deals with mental, emotional and behavioral disorders in a
person. In psychiatry, medical therapies are applied to attack the organic
source of the disease. After the physical and behavioural symptoms are
diagnosed, drugs and other means are used for treatment.
Psychiatrist are physicians who specialise in the diagnosis
and treatment of mental health problems, illness and emotional disorders. They
look after patients with mental problems, such as depression and schizophrenia.
Treatment approaches may be more biologically based.
The demand for psychiatrists is increasing, with the
increasing mental tension and stress arising from modern lifestyles. To become a
psychiatrist, one should attend the medical school and receive an M.D. (Doctor
of Medicine) degree, after the MBBS. One could also do a Diploma in Psychiatric
medicine (DPM) from a recognised educational institute to become a qualified
Doctors who have successfully completed the entire MBBS
programme are eligible for specialisation in psychiatry. They may either do a
postgraduate course (M.D.- Doctor of Medicine) in psychiatry or a Diploma in
psychiatric medicine (DPM).
Besides MD and DPM, The National Board of Examinations
conducts a programme called Diploma of National Board Exam (DNB). The DNB is
considered to be equivalent to a MD degree.
Duration - The Doctorate (MD) course in
psychiatry is of three years' duration. The person doing MD has to write a
thesis on a particular topic under the guidance of a supervisor. The DPM is of
two years' duration. Thesis does not have to be written in DPM.
The subjects taught in the MD programme include psychology,
anatomy, physiology and biochemistry of the brain, neurology and neurosurgery.
The course includes practical training at mental hospitals. Special aspects of
psychology such as child psychiatry, community psychiatry, social psychiatry,
forensic psychiatry and preventive psychiatry also form a part of the academic
Personal Skills - A person who is willing
to be a psychiatric should be patient and have the intuition to understand
people. One of the most important attribute of the job is the ability to listen.
Perseverance, emotional stability, a genuine concern and sympathy towards the
patients, an objective approach towards their problems are all important. Good
communication skill is also essential to be a good psychiatrist.
Job Prospects and Career Options
Psychiatry offers a wide range of job opportunities within
its subspecialties. The career of a psychiatrist is becoming important because
of arising mental problems in the society. The profession is growing slowly and
new applications are opening up. The work done by psychiatrists vary widely
The profession of the psychiatrists begins with the
diagnosis of the patient's problems, followed by treatment, which could take the
form of medication, counseling, psychotherapy or electrotherapy. They make use
of techniques such as hypnosis and abreaction for the treatment of their
patients. Psychiatrists often work with occupational therapists and social
workers for the rehabilitation of their patients, helping them to resume their
Psychiatrists can seek employment in regular hospitals as
well as in mental hospitals. They are free to set up their own private clinics.
They can work as counselors in large-scale industries, rehabilitation centers
dealing with drug addiction, alcoholism, and mental problems. Apart from these,
psychiatrists also often work as counselors in institutions, including schools,
colleges, hospitals and health centers. Many private nursing homes and
polyclinics employ psychiatrists to attend to the psychological problems arising
from various medical, surgical, cardiac and gynecological cases. Psychiatrists
specialised in children's problems deal with juvenile delinquents and they can
work in children's' rehabilitation centers. Psychiatrists are often required to
work in the courts and prisons where they are required to deal with person's
suing for divorce and other such matters.
In the government sector, remuneration is fixed for various
scales and the initial level is approximately in the range of Rs 3,000 to Rs
5,000 per month plus allowances.
Private practitioners can earn a lot of money. On one
sitting, they charge Rs 300 or more per hour for counseling.