Optimind Clinic

Dr Gordon Wong, psychiatrist    

What Do Psychiatrists Do?

by Dr Gordon Wong, Specialist in Psychiatry

MBBS (HK), MRCPsych, FHKCPsych, FHKAM (Psychiatry), MSocSc (Couns)(South Australia), DCPsyc RCP&S (Irel), DFM (HKCFP), Dip Med (CUHK), PGDipClinDerm (QMUL)


Psychiatrists are doctors who have completed a medical degree (such as MBBS or MBChB under the British system, or MD under the American system), and have subsequently undergone further specialist training in the field of psychiatry. This means that psychiatrists have had the same basic medical training as any other doctors such as surgeons, paediatricians, gynaecologists or obstetricians.

One cannot become a psychiatrist without a medical degree. Hence, psychiatrists can prescribe medication, issue sick leave certificates and other medical certificates, order blood tests or imaging tests, and any other treatments and procedures that a medical graduate is expected to do. Psychiatrists are qualified to deal with common ailments such as cold and influenza, and even do minor surgeries such as removal of lumps and bumps on the skin.

To become a doctor in Hong Kong, one has to finish medical school which lasts six years in Hong Kong, and then complete a year of internship. To be a specialist doctor, he or she can enter specialist training which lasts for a minimum of six years. This means that, if you were to enter medical school now, it will take thirteen years before you can call yourself a specialist doctor psychiatry.

A psychiatrist deals with a diverse number of problems and conditions, such as schizophrenia, psychosis, anxiety, mood problems such as depression and bipolar affective disorder, sleep problems, substance abuse problems, learning disability problems, autistic spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dementia, personality disorders, adjustment disorders, gender dysphoria, and many other conditions listed in the diagnostic manuals.

Psychiatrists also have the power to declare someone being mentally fit for a procedure. For example a psychiatrist can assess and declare mental fitness for consent, making a statement, making a Court appearance, making decisions such as making a will or an enduring power of attorney etc.

When a person is in a coma or otherwise mentally incapacitated to make important decisions, family members can apply to the Court to obtain legal power to make financial and/or medical decisions for the incapacitated person. This process two psychiatrists to assess and declare the person as mentally incapacitated, before the Court will grant such a ruling.

Click on the links to find out more information on psychiatrists in Hong Kong.