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Career Profile of a Child Psychiatrist

Job Descriptions December 4, 2012

Aspiring child psychologists will need several years of education. Once they have completed medical school, they will need to complete a general psychiatry residency and fellowship in adolescent and child psychiatry.

Educational Pre-requisites for a Child Psychiatrist

People rely on children psychiatrist to provide medical treatment while tackling their emotion and mental disorders. Child psychiatrists could issue medical prescriptions for the treatment of a patient’s condition; this depends on the nature and severity of the disorder. A psychiatrist makes diagnosis by taking into account a child’s behavioral patterns, past medical history and environment.

Bachelor Degree Requirement

A bachelor degree is the most commonly held qualification by potential child psychiatrists. In the absence of undergraduate programs relating specifically to child psychiatry, potential students may opt for science-heavy coursework. The coursework should include topics such as chemistry, anatomy and biology. There are several pre-medical programs offered at schools, the coursework of such programs has large components of psychology and science.

Medical School Requirement

The Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) furnishes students with information on accredited programs (www.lcme.org). A potential child psychiatrist will need to graduate from an accredited program before they are awarded a state medical license (source: LCME). In July 2011, one hundred thirty five medical schools in the United States had LCME-accreditation.

Pre-Clinical Coursework

Coursework in medical school differs for pre-clinical and clinical years. Pre-clinical years coursework are comprised of foundational courses in leading diseases and bodily systems. Such coursework that introduce students to modes of patient care apart from familiarizing them with relevant terminology is likely to include medical ethics, pharmacology and pathology.

Clinical Years Coursework

In clinical years coursework, medical students are introduced to supervised work in a hospital environment. Such guidance are affected by licensed medical personnel. Over the two clinical years, completions of rotations are expected of students with such rotations lasting for a week and in some instances going on for a few months. Prerequisites include critical areas of medicine including psychiatry; however, students are allowed to opt for areas of personal preference for elective credits.

Psychiatry Residency Programs

Students gain intensive work experience in clinical settings when they enroll for psychiatry residency programs. These are programs that run for four years during which the residents gain experience working with several patients including adolescents and children. Rotations in inpatient psychiatry, neurology and primary care are completed by residents apart from electives in psychopharmacology, and clinical research among other study areas. Residents are required to evaluate and treat patients; they are required to conduct clinical research.

The American Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) — an independent medical council — has provided a list of possible programs for access by prospective child psychiatrists (source: www.acgme.org). Residencies and fellowships are accredited by the ACGME in an effort to ensure that standards of the profession are met by future physicians.

Child Psychiatry Fellowship Programs

The ACGME refers to fellowships as subspecialty programs; students can follow up on residencies by completing fellowships that usually take about two years to complete. They allow students the opportunity to learn about key psychiatric problems that children are afflicted by. Fellowship training coursework includes topics such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, pediatric neurology and research on topics such as pervasive developmental disorders are expected of fellows.

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