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Psychiatrists are specialist physicians, trained to deal with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental disorders. Psychiatrists take complete histories of their patients including medical, emotional and developmental information.

After obtaining a complete history, the psychiatrist determines the nature and degree of the disorder and decides on a programme of treatment. The psychiatrist then directs or administers the kind of care and treatment necessary, which usually involved medication. Psychiatrists may be involved in research or teach at universities. In addition they may serve as consultants to courts, special schools and community agencies.

Areas of specialisation include:

- Child psychiatry
- Community psychiatry
- Drug and alcohol addiction
- Forensic psychiatry (law psychiatry)
- Geriatric psychiatry
- Mental retardation

Most psychiatrists work indoors in offices, which are usually comfortable and attractive to the public. However the actual setting depends on the type, size, location, and financial resources of the employer.

Satisfying Aspects
- helping others
- the variety and challenge of one's work
- working with other members of the health care team
- the high income and prestige of this profession
- the opportunity of establishing a private practice

Demanding aspects
- the long and expensive training required
- being on call around the clock
- having patients not responding to treatment

A psychiatrist should:
- want to help people;
- enjoy studying and learning;
- be able to communicate well in writing and in speech;
- work well under stress;
- handle emergencies well;
- have emotional stability and maturity;
- be able to establish and maintain the trust and confidence of patients;
- have above average intelligence;
- have good physical health and stamina.

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences
Recommended Subjects: Life Sciences

Note: Competition to enter medical studies is stiff and there are usually many applicants with excellent results who will naturally be given preference.

Degree: MBChB degree - UP, UKZN, UCT, UFS, US, UL, Wits

- Theoretical training: 6 years
- Student internship: 1 year
- Practical work at a hospital: 1 year (also known as the house doctor year).

Postgraduate study for psychiatry specialization: MMed or FCP(SA): 4 years - UKZN, UL, US, UFS, UCT, Wits.

Before commencing post-graduate study for specialization as a psychiatrist the candidate must be: in possession of a MBChB degree for 2 years; and registered as a medical doctor with the Health Professions Council of SA.

On successful completion of the examination to qualify as a specialist, the candidate must register with the IMDC as a psychiatrist.

- hospitals
- clinics
- universities
- government departments like the Department of Education and the Department of Health
- self-employment, in private practice

South African Society of Psychiatry (SASOP)
P O Box 30252
Wonderboompoort, 0033
Tel: 082 8383 932 Fax: 086 648 5094