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Top Qualities of a Competent Psychiatrist

Traits of a Competent Psychiatrist

As a psychiatrist, you’ve attended medical school, completed residency, and earned your M.D. to diagnose, treat and prevent mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders in your patients. You have the skills and abilities to provide psychological treatment, prescribe medications and perform specialized procedures in order to treat people with mental illness.

But beyond your educational background, there are other key qualities that are crucial to your role as a psychiatrist. They will help ensure you are providing quality care to your patients, as well as succeeding in your role. Here are the top five qualities of a competent psychiatrist.

1. Empathy

According to a recent study, psychiatrists helping those with mental illness must use empathetic skills throughout practice, including situations in which individuals are unwilling to seek help, unable to form trusting relationships or struggle to communicate with others logically and emotionally due to mental health disorders. To show empathy, actively listen to and respect the patient’s concerns and feelings, and show concern in return. In addition to medication, being empathetic towards patients can increase the effectiveness of mental illness treatments.

2. Knowledgeable

A good psychiatrist should have a firm understanding of medications, their safety considerations, effects on patients, and so on, as noted by Psychology Today. For example, if you have a patient with a history of drug addiction, you’ll want to prescribe highly addictive medications with caution or avoid them altogether. In addition, you should know when to lower doses or change medications due to side effects or ineffectiveness.

3. Flexible

To create a supportive environment that tends to your patient’s needs, you must be flexible. According to Psychology Today, a good psychiatrist is open to trying another approach or treatment if the first one doesn’t work. For instance, you may need to increase the number of sessions based on the severity of a patient’s illness.

Competent psychiatrists are also flexible in their treatment methods. If a patient is unable to attend regular in-person visits, you may consider telepsychiatry or even making house calls in order to expand access to psychiatry care.   

4. Conscientious

It’s also important to be attentive to your patient’s unique needs and concerns. That means showing respect for their time, being punctual and accessible, and encouraging open communication. This also ensures your patients feel safe being vulnerable in the practice environment so that they discuss all aspects of their illness, and receive treatment accordingly.

5. Lifelong Learner

A good psychiatrist understands the importance of continuous learning. This helps you stay up-to-date with cutting-edge treatments and medical standards. Top psychiatrists are also not opposed to asking questions or seeking consultation from their peers when difficulties arise. This allows you to keep your patient’s best interests in mind in order to provide top-quality care.

Psychiatrists play an important role in promoting mental health, especially during a time when 1 in 5 U.S. adults have a mental health condition. Take these five qualities into consideration to ensure you’re providing top psychiatric care, and excelling in your role.

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