Guide to Becoming a Military Psychiatrist

Psychiatry is a field of medicine that focuses on the examination, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental issues and disorders. Psychiatrists are licensed doctors who have the jurisdiction to prescribe medicine and pharmaceutical drugs to help in the treatment of their patient’s mental disorders.

One of the many sub categories of psychiatry is military psychiatry. A military psychiatrist applies their knowledge and training in psychiatry in the context and realm of the military.

As there are sports psychiatrists and juvenile psychiatrists, military psychiatrists focus on treating patients that may be current or retired military personnel or even their families. The patients may be suffering from mental issues, trauma, anxiety, addiction, and so on. The goal of a military psychiatrist is to study, diagnose, treat and prevent patients from developing mental issues.

Work Environment

As a military psychiatrist, you may work in a number of settings. For instance, you can work in retirement homes, medical facilities, hospitals, military bases, military training institutes, research facilities or even accompany soldiers on a mission which may involve crossing borders.

In all scenarios, you will need to conduct your duties and responsibilities around patients who may be current or retired military personnel or their families and friends. You will have to study, examine and successfully diagnose patients in either a clinical or neutral setting and then suggest a plan of action for treatment and medical assistance. The work environment may be stressful as well as exciting.



As with most fields of medicine and science, a great deal of emphasis is given on education. No doubt a student of this field will need to have specific familiarity and knowledge of military and war as it causes unique emotional, physical and psychological changes to humans.

Candidates first should possess a bachelor’s degree then one needs to enroll in a medical school.

A residency in psychiatry with a focus on military psychiatry may be preferred by employers. Most psychiatrists receive their initial training in the basics of psychiatry and then need to find a residency that focuses on their desired niche.


Military psychiatrists need to have knowledge and exposure in the demands and rigors of war and combat – physical, emotional and psychological. Familiarity with stress control, making the transition, dealing with death and so on are some principles that you need to be familiar with.

Some patients may display negative or aggressive emotions and it is required that military psychiatrists should receive adequate training on how to deal with such situations.

Licensure and/or Certification

Since psychiatrists are medical doctors, you need a valid physician license to practice as a psychiatrist. State laws and regulations may need to be looked up before finalizing plans of practice.

Necessary Skills and Qualities

Military psychiatrists need to be patient and good listeners. They also need to have the insight to determine and understand what the patient has gone through. For instance, dealing with the loss of a friend, or dealing with an injury are two separate issues but can have wide ranging impacts on the health of the patient. Therefore a military psychiatrist needs to be familiar with these elements.

A military psychiatrist must be able to work under extremely stressful and unorthodox conditions. These conditions may be a combat situation, a period of war or the conditions associated with a difficult military lifestyle.

Opportunities for Advancement

In this field experience plays a vital role. The more experience you have from treating a number of cases and patients, the greater may be your chances of success and growth.

You can advance from working and conditions new soldiers to more challenging roles such as treating trauma ridden soldiers or those dealing with personality issues. Working in research and education is a great way to capitalize and monetize your knowledge too.


Military psychiatrists belong to a niche in the medical industry which causes their skill set to be unique and in demand. According to sources, the average annual salary for a military psychiatrist is $141,000 (

The skills possessed by a military psychiatrist are quite unique which makes their market value increase considerably as they work on a number of new cases and gather valuable experience.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for military psychiatrists is quite favorable. Given the changing global war patterns, the strength of the army has been gradually increasing. To mentally train these candidates and to treat those that have been damaged by the stress of war, military psychiatrists are needed to diagnose and treat military personnel. To ensure that tragedies, stress and trauma do not permanently affect soldiers, the expertise of military psychiatrists is most needed.

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