What they do

Psychiatrists diagnose, assess, treat and prevent mental, emotional and behavioural disorders. Psychiatrists treat mental illness which encompasses conditions such as anxiety disorders, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, substance abuse and personality disorders.

Psychiatry uses all aspects of the biopsychosocial model and as such focuses holistically on the patient's body and mind. It is an important speciality with approximately one in five Australians suffering from a mental disorder.

There are approximately 143 psychiatrists practising in Western Australia. The majority are spread across the metropolitan area however a small percentage are located in major regional centres.

Working conditions

Psychiatrists generally practice according to personal preference and area of subspecialisation. Most work in private and public clinics or hospitals. Emergencies are few and on-call work tends to be. Work can be performed on an individual level or as a multidisciplinary team.

Although psychiatry work is considered a privilege and source of great satisfaction, at times it can be emotionally draining and stressful.

Tools and technologies

Psychiatrists need to be familiar with advances in neuropsychiatry and psychobiology including atypical antipsychotics to procedures such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) is a tool used by psychiatrists.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a psychiatrist, you must first become a qualified medical practitioner and then specialise in psychiatry.

To become a medical practitioner, you need to study a degree in medicine. Alternatively, you can study a degree in any discipline followed by a postgraduate degree in medicine.

Some universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

To specialise in psychiatry, doctors must apply to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (FRANZCP) to complete the Psychiatry Training Program and ultimately receive fellowship.

To be eligible for this specialist training, on completion of your medical degree, you must work in the public hospital system for two years (internship and residency).

Required registration and licensing

To work as a psychiatrist in Western Australia, you will need to obtain registration from the Medical Board of Australia.