This guide is for new UK
trainee psychiatrists this leaflet includes tips on how to keep
yourself healthy and happy, and keep your career on track.
Day-to-day life as a CT1–3
Your induction programme is
likely to include mandatory courses specific to psychiatry, such as
risk assessment, use of the Mental Health Act (different in
England, Wales, Scotland and N Ireland) and training in rapid
It is important to note the
differences in the policies and procedures at psychiatric hospitals
compared with acute hospitals, particularly regarding the
management of acute medical incidents.
During your CT1 year, you
can expect to have 6–12 months in general adult psychiatry, but it
is also common to work in old age psychiatry in this period.
During your CT2 and CT3
years you will typically work in more specialist posts, such as
child and adolescent psychiatry, learning disability psychiatry,
forensic psychiatry, liaison psychiatry, addiction psychiatry and
psychotherapy, as well as gaining further general adult psychiatry
The process for allocation
of training posts varies between deaneries. Training posts are
generally 4-6 months. If you want to work in a specific post during
your training, your training programme director is usually the best
You should have weekly
supervision from your educational or clinical supervisor. During
this session, you will have an opportunity to discuss cases, as
well as your career and opportunities for audit, research and
teaching. You will also join a case-based discussion group
(sometimes known as Balint group) to analyse the psychodynamic
aspects of clinical cases.
On-calls may range from
covering in-patient psychiatric units to medical wards, and
conducting psychiatric assessments in the accident and emergency
For A&E department and
medical ward cover, responsibilities are often divided between core
trainees, liaison departments and crisis and home treatment teams;
the local protocols should be explained at induction.
Providing out-of-hours cover
to psychiatric wards is likely to incorporate the provision of both
psychiatric and acute medical care for patients, the medical
registrar on call at the relevant acute hospital should be
available to provide advice on medical issues. You may be asked to
carry out assessments under the Mental Health Act; training on this
should be provided at induction.
Psychiatric ST4-6s and
consultants are generally very approachable. It is important to
discuss relevant issues with your seniors and these discussions are
valuable teaching opportunities which can also be used
Organising your workload
Prioritise, delegate and
manage your tasks to stop you feeling overwhelmed by multiple
demands on your time. Remember to make time for teaching, research
and audit, which all form an important part of your training.
Administrative staff are a crucial component of overall psychiatric
care and are often an important source of information.
The Royal College of
All psychiatry trainees have to join the Royal
College of Psychiatrists. You can register online.
We encourage you to join
The Psychiatric Trainees’ Committee (PTC). Made up of trainees
elected from every College division, and has representatives on
most College committees. Further details are available on
webpages; you can contact the PTC by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Portfolios and personal development plans
With input from
educational supervisors, all trainees are required to maintain a
portfolio and a personal development plan. You can set up and
manage your portfolio at the College’s
Portfolio Online website.
The College membership
examination (MRCPsych) comprises of two Written Papers: Papers
A, B and the Clinical Assessment of Skills and Competencies
(CASC). Each paper is 3-hours long and contains approximately 200
questions. Both question papers consist of multiple choice
questions (MCQs) and extended matching items (EMIs).
You can find further guidance in the PSS
Exams guide and on the exams
section of the website.
Workplace-based assessments include:
- Assessments performed as part
of your normal day-to-day job,
- Incorporate evaluation of
your clinical, communication and teaching skills,
- Journal club
Annual review of
competence progression (ARCP)
Every June at least three
panel members will examine your portfolio to determine if you have
attained the required competencies. Further information can be
found in the
Tips for looking
- Attend promptly to occupational health
- Participate in induction courses and
- Join the College as a pre-membership trainee
(PMPT) and get access to Portfolio Online,
- Look into the ARCP process and the training
- Maintain patient confidentiality and keep
good records; ensure appropriate entries are made in clinical
records whenever you see, or have contact with, a patient,
- Get professional indemnity insurance.
Information can be found
- Book study and annual leave well in advance
to allow you to swap on-calls if necessary,
- Find out about annual National Health Service
appraisal procedures in your trust.
- Try to maintain a healthy work/life
- Keep in touch with family and friends and
make time for hobbies outside work,
- Exercise regularly and eat healthily,
- Register with a local general practice.
If you become unwell, seek
help and allow yourself time to recover. Flexible training is
possible if you meet the criteria; your deanery can offer further
What to do if things
are not going so well
Psychiatry is rewarding but
involves dealing with complex cases and hearing about difficult and
emotional issues brought in by patients. You may experience
personal difficulties yourself. If things are not going well,
please ask for help from family or friends, or from your
educational supervisor, training programme director or local
College tutor. You may also consider seeking help from your
difficulties at work is common and it is better to openly discuss
issues with your supervisor rather than ignore or minimise
Further sources of help and
support can be found in our Resource
Gold Guide 6th Edition Feb 2016
The information should
be used as a guide only and is not a substitute for professional
advice. If you need further advice and support, please contact the
Psychiatrists’ Support Service.
© Royal College of
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If you require advice and support about a particular issue then please contact the
Psychiatrists' Support Service at the Royal College of Psychiatrists on 0207 245
0412 or email
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