Starting around the mid-nineteenth century, psychiatrists were referred to as "alienists." It was the alienist's job to study, understand, care for, and assist patients in overcoming their "mental alienation" or illness.
The psychiatric specialty is in this sense not an old one. It has continuously evolved over time, and still does so. The professional role of a psychiatrist has been redefined over the years, and is today indeed quite different compared with what it was some decades ago. Opposed from the previous polarized positions of being rooted in a biologic or psychotherapeutic tradition, the modern psychiatrist of today is highly trained and well acquainted with the biopsychosocial model of understanding and treating patients.
The psychiatric competence comes with responsibility and expectations from colleagues, patients, relatives, coworkers and society. This can of course be perceived as both challenging and frustrating, more so for young doctors struggling to understand the profession. However, efforts have been made to conceptualize different domains of what constitutes a “whole” psychiatrist.
The CanMEDS framework is a set of competencies used in medical education, to guide the training and assessment of physicians in various specialties, including psychiatry. This framework is used by the European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS) in the development of their European Training Requirements (ETRs) as a way to foster harmonization.
This issue of The Nordic Psychiatrist is dedicated to seven competencies where the psychiatrist has a unique role and responsibility, such as being a medical expert, communicator, collaborator, health advocate and leader. Being a psychiatrist also comes with responsibilities in education (scholar) and defining professional standards.
Professionals from several countries reflect and share their thoughts and knowledge about these domains. The perspectives are of course innumerous, but thanks to many engaged colleagues, we have plenty of interesting articles about the seven competences of a psychiatrist.
I wish you an interesting reading. Who knows, maybe it will inspire you to reflect on your own professional role? □
Hans-Peter Mofors Chief editor