A pediatric psychiatrist diagnoses and treats psychiatric conditions in patients who are not adults. If you want to become a pediatric psychiatrist, you must dedicate many years to school and training. You also must have excellent communication skills, the ability to solve problems and an understanding of the sciences. You will find a need for this experience in a variety of careers.
You will need a bachelor's degree in psychology to become a pediatric psychiatrist. After that, you also will need to spend four more years in medical school and a two-year residency to study psychiatry, getting a better understanding of the human mind and the many problems from which patients can suffer and how to treat them. Many countries differ, but in the United States, for example, in order to become a pediatric psychiatrist, you first must be a board-certified psychiatrist for adults. After that, you can pursue a certification in childhood psychiatry.
The board certification to become a pediatric psychiatrist, in the Untied States, requires two additional years in residency and studying. During this time, you will work specifically with children and young adults. You will learn how to diagnose problems such as childhood mood disorders, anxiety, depression, mental illness and more.
There are many skills you must have to become a pediatric psychiatrist. Beyond studying the science of the mind and working through your residency, you also must hone your communication skills. A major part of the job requires getting details from children who do not want to talk, so listening to verbal cues will help you make a diagnosis. Understanding personality types and how best to approach them is a crucial tool. You also must be aware of nonverbal communication, such as body language, that might reveal unspoken psychological issues.
As a pediatric psychiatrist, you have many options about where to work after you have properly prepared for this career. Clinical opportunities are a popular route and usually involve starting your own practice or working for an established private practice. You will be able to select your clients, make your own hours and perform more specialized care. Working for government agencies such as public hospitals and doing social work will provide challenges and help patients who otherwise might not receive care. Academic research is another avenue that allows you to attempt to find the cause of many conditions and help develop medicine and psychiatric techniques to treat patients.