AskDefine | Define psychiatrist

Dictionary Definition

psychiatrist n : a physician who specializes in psychiatry [syn: head-shrinker, shrink]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • a WEAE /ˌsaɪˈkaɪ.ə.tɹɪst/


From psychiatry + -ist.


  1. A medical doctor specializing in psychiatry.


doctor specializing in psychiatry
  • Arabic: طبيب نفساني
  • Bulgarian: психиатър
  • Chinese: 心理醫生, 心理医生
  • Czech: psychiatr
  • Dutch: psychiater
  • Finnish: psykiatri
  • French: psychiatriste
  • German: Psychiater, Psychiaterin
  • Greek: ψυχίατρος
  • Icelandic: geðlæknir
  • Italian: psichiatra
  • Japanese: 精神医学者
  • Korean: 심리학자
  • Latin: psychiatrista, psychiatristus
  • Persian: روان‌پزشک
  • Portuguese: psiquiatra
  • Russian: психиатр
  • Slovak: psychiater, psychiatrička
  • Spanish: psiquiatra
  • Swedish: psykiater

Extensive Definition

A psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in psychiatry and is certified in treating mental disorders. As part of their evaluation of the patient, psychiatrists are one of only a few mental health professionals who may prescribe psychiatric medication, conduct physical examinations, order and interpret laboratory tests and electroencephalograms, and may order brain imaging studies such as computed tomography or computed axial tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and positron emission tomography scanning.

Psychiatry in the professional world

Psychiatrists are doctors of medicine who specialize in treating mental illness using the biomedical approach to mental disorders. Psychiatrists can also go through training to conduct psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, and/or cognitive behavioral therapy, but it is their medical training that differentiates them from other mental health professionals.


The field of psychiatry itself can be divided into various subspecialties.

Professional requirements

Typically the requirements to become a psychiatrist are substantial but differ from country to country.
In the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, and other parts of the world, one must complete a medical degree. These degrees are often abbreviated MB BChir, MB BCh, MB ChB, BM BS, or MB BS. Following this, the individual will work as a Foundation House Officer for two additional years. The foundation programme allows students to experience the different specialties of medicine, as well as learn important attributes and qualities of becoming a doctor. Upon completion, a student can apply for a Specialty Registrar (StR) in Psychiatry post to specialize in psychiatry. Following acceptance, this specialized training will last for about 6 years, during which time the doctor must pass examinations for Membership of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (MRCPsych). Upon successful completion of this specialist training, the doctor can then apply for Consultant posts.
In the United States and Canada one must first complete their Bachelor's degree, or in Québec complete a premedical course of study in Cégep. Students may typically decide any major of their choice, however they must enroll in specific courses, usually outlined in a pre-medical program. One must then apply to and attend 4 years of medical school in order to earn their M.D. or D.O. and to complete their medical education. Following this, the individual must practice as a psychiatric resident for another four years (five years in Canada). Psychiatry residents are often required to complete at least four post-graduate months of internal medicine or pediatrics and two months of neurology during the first year. After completing their training, psychiatrists take written and then oral board examinations. The total amount of time required to complete post-baccalaureate work in the field of psychiatry in the United States is typically 8 to 9 years.

See also

Further reading

  • American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR Fourth Edition. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Publishing.
  • Frances, A., & First, M. (1999). Your Mental Health: A Layman's Guide to the Psychiatrist's Bible. New York: Scribner.
  • Hafner, H. (2002). Psychiatry as a profession. Nervenarzt, 73, 33.
  • Stout, E. (1993). From the Other Side of the Couch: Candid Conversations with Psychiatrists and Psychologists. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.
psychiatrist in Danish: Psykiater
psychiatrist in German: Psychiater
psychiatrist in French: Psychiatre
psychiatrist in Croatian: Psihijatar
psychiatrist in Indonesian: Psikiater
psychiatrist in Hebrew: פסיכיאטר
psychiatrist in Hungarian: Pszichiáter
psychiatrist in Dutch: Psychiater
psychiatrist in Norwegian: Psykiater
psychiatrist in Norwegian Nynorsk: Psykiatar
psychiatrist in Finnish: Psykiatri
psychiatrist in Swedish: Psykiater

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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