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What do psychiatrists do?

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Quick Answer

A psychiatrist is a physician specializing in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental, emotion and addictive disorders, according to the Michigan Psychiatric Society. A psychiatrist can be a medical doctor (M.D.) or a doctor of osteopathy (D.O).

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Full Answer

Psychiatrists receive training in the social, psychological and medical components of disorders of the mind, emotions and behavior, according to the Michigan Psychiatric Society. They are trained in diagnosing psychiatric disorders and can prescribe medication and devise treatment plans to help patients cope with crises and stress. Psychiatrists may be part of treatment teams that are comprised of other doctors and medical professionals.

Psychiatrists must complete their degrees from an accredited institute of higher learning, which can be a medical school or a school of osteopathy. To practice medicine, the psychiatrist must also pass the United States Medical Licensing Exam that is given by the National Board of Medical Examiners Federation of State Medical Boards. In addition, psychiatrists must complete a 4-year residency program, with 3 years focused on psychiatry.

Psychiatrists can receive board certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology to practice sub-specialties of psychiatry, including addiction psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatrist, geriatric psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine, sleep medicine and pain medicine.

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