Contrary to what many think, psychiatry is not just about treating the depressed and the unsound-minded; there is a lot this profession entails, and one would be baffled by the extent of its reach. What makes psychiatry an intriguing profession is its fundamental engagement with the cognitive framework of human beings, which is helpful for the better understanding of humans and mind-related issues. All of this makes those directly engaged in this profession—psychiatrists—among the most influential doctors in the world, and hence, among the most affluent ones in the field of medical science.
If you are a psychiatrist, you may have an enthralling and income-generating career as a freelance psychiatrist. The freelance community has a sprawling presence across the world, and one can find ample opportunities to kick-start his/her psychiatry career or find alternative income options. Whatever you wish to do, keep in mind certain considerations before you actually engage in freelance psychiatry.
What are those considerations? Well, you need not look anywhere else, since this article will enumerate the key aspects of freelance psychiatry, which if studied and worked upon seriously will pave way for a stable career as a freelance psychiatrist.
1. Job Requirements
A psychiatrist is a professional occupation, and the absence of certification is not welcoming. Even in freelance community, which is relatively relaxed on job requirements stresses a great deal on professional certifications before accepting applications. Psychiatrists are essentially medical doctors whose responsibilities are diagnosing and treating mental illnesses, and therefore, a certain standard of qualifications is a must. For a better understanding on the topic of job requirements, read the following:
- In order to become a psychiatrist, you must first successfully finish the MBBS program in order to become eligible for a specialization in psychiatry.
- Once you have obtained an MBBS degree, you have two options: You may go for a diploma in psychiatry (which is commonly known as DPM), which is usually of two years or go for a post-graduate (MD) course in the field of psychiatry, which has a three-year duration.
- Apart from the DPM and MD, there is an additional option, which is obtaining the Diploma of National Board Exam (commonly known by its abbreviated form DNB), which is considered at par with an MD degree.
- A typical curriculum for a psychiatry course includes anatomy, psychology, biochemistry of the brain, neurosurgery, neurology, and physiology. Additional sub-topics such as forensic psychiatry, preventive psychiatry, social psychiatry, community psychiatry and child psychiatry are also taught.
- If you plan to obtain specialisation in India, there are a number of institutes for consideration; however, if you are plans are very much set abroad, then you may find innumerable academic opportunities keeping in mind the fact psychiatry is a relatively revered and lucrative career abroad, which naturally expands the scope of financial opportunities. Some reputed institutes offering psychiatry courses in India are All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences, Lady Hardinge Medical College, Christian Medical College, Aligarh Muslim University, Tata Institute of Social Science, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur and the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. International options include Harvard University, King’s College, University of California, etc.
- Apart from a professional certification in whatever form, whether a diploma or a degree, publications will help immensely in putting yourself in a better position.
2. Skills required
A Psychiatrist has to deal with issues which are not essentially physiological, and the whole task of ascertaining the main cognitive problem can be tough. It is, therefore, expected from a psychiatrist possession of certain skills—something which you, as a freelancer, must be necessarily manifest. Under this head, the key skills of a psychiatrist have been enumerated:
- Exemplary diagnostic skills: This is a universal skill in the medical field, and thus, psychiatry is no exception to the same. Psychiatrists are expected to exhibit good analytical skills dealing with the test results and symptoms of the patient. This requires extensive knowledge and practical skills, which you can only develop through frequent engagement in the field.
- Good Listening skills: Every patient cannot adequately communicate his problems, especially in the case of any mental disorder which makes it hard for the patient to understand easily. A psychiatrist must possess a great deal of patience, and listen to each and everything the patient says and pay keen attention to his expressions. During this whole one-sided conversation, the psychiatrist must be able to keep aside his own dispositions and adopt a rather neutral approach towards the patient’s problem.
- Great communication skills: Mere listening skills will not do if you are unable to make a comprehensible verbal analysis and convey the same to the patient. He must be able to accommodate the communication abilities of the patient, and accordingly, formulate the analysis. Supposing the patient suffers from a mental disorder hampering with his interpretative skills, then you must avoid using complicated terminology.
- Empathy without any room for internalization: Patients visiting a psychiatrist are not only dealing with a disorder but also social pressures. Only you are in a position to calm their nerves and empathize with them since you have studied these disorders. You must convey to the patient that you understand the situation he/she is going through, and that you are there to provide as much support as possible.
- Persuasion: This is an important skill, especially when you are dealing with a problem which is not entirely physiological. It is common for a psychiatrist to come across reluctant listeners as patients, and it becomes all the more necessary to persuade them to shun their reluctance. This can only happen if you sharpen your persuasive skills intensively.
- Judgment skills: Better judgment skills can be improved through regular study of humans and their psychology. You must know when and what to recommend to the patient, and not make recommendations hurriedly.
3. Where to work
A psychiatrist has multiple work opportunities, and this is especially the case with freelancers since they enjoy greater mobility in their profession. Read the following to know about the work opportunities:
- Psychiatrists are employed usually in rehabilitation centers, especially those dealing with alcoholism, sexual assault victims, and drug addictions.
- Psychiatrists are often hired by social groups to rehabilitate the people they rescue from adverse conditions and restore them to normalcy.
- Psychiatrists can work in hospitals, polyclinic, research institutions, nursing homes and other medical institutions.
- You can open your own clinic upon obtaining a license.
- There is an easier way to find jobs—online. There are a number of prominent freelance websites which offer a great many job options for psychiatrists such as freelance.com, worknhire.com, upwork.com.
All you have to do is create an account, update a profile along with the portfolio of skills and apply to vacancies. Follow-up periodically, but do not project you as a desperate job seeker.
4. Pay rate
The freelance community provides much flexibility in pay rate; however, there are a few determinative factors which heavily influence the pay rate. These factors include qualifications, skills, publications, and experience. If you have incredible qualifications and longstanding experience, then you can charge a whopping $117 per hour since you command credibility. In case you are a newbie in the profession, you may not charge as much as experienced do; however, if you have some really awesome academic qualifications from, say, Harvard, then you may be entitled to charge high pay rate.