How to Become a Psychiatrist

If you want to become a psychiatrist, you should first understand what this profession is and how to become a psychiatrist. Just like other medical professions, psychiatrists need to study intensively and undergo thorough trainings in order to become one. Compared to other courses, aspiring psychiatrists need to obtain higher education, such as a doctorate degree in psychiatry and a specialization depending on the sub-specialty chosen by the student. Some of the common specialization options if you want to be a psychiatrist are child psychiatry, forensic psychiatry and geriatric psychiatry and many more.

What is a Psychiatrist?

To become a psychiatrist, you need to study psychiatry. This medical study deals with the mental health of people from various ages. Psychiatrists study the mental condition of patients and understand the different mental problems and diseases that affect people. They can prescribe medications to cure certain mental health problems and they can provide therapy sessions to understand and treat patients with mental illnesses or disorders. Some people go to counselors or psychologists for help when it comes to psychological and emotional problems. However, counselors can only provide natural therapy solutions while psychiatrists are medical professionals that can prescribe medicines to cure a specific illness that affects the mental health of the patient.

Psychotherapy is part of the expertise of psychiatrists so if you are wondering on how to be a psychotherapist, studying psychiatry education will also lead you to this kind of profession. Some people have misconceptions regarding psychology and psychiatry and usually mistake the two as the same profession. Although both study deals with various mental conditions and problems, there are great differences in terms of scope of practice and education.

Psychologists can only provide therapies and counseling while psychiatrists are licensed and trained to provide medications if needed. Psychology profession can be obtained through a college degree program while psychiatrists are doctors so they need to go to medical schools and obtain higher education in order to be a licensed psychiatrist. Psychiatrists may impose higher fees compared to psychologists and counselors but that is because they also provide wider range of medical and health services. Now that you know the job description of psychiatrists, the next important thing to consider is the requirements to become a psychiatrist.

Educational Requirements to Become a Psychiatrist

As mentioned before, psychiatrists are doctors so higher education is definitely important in order to have the sufficient knowledge, skills and trainings. So how long does it take to become a psychiatrist?

How Many Years to Become a Psychiatrist?

The education and career path to become a psychiatrist will take years of hard work and dedication so it is important to study properly and perform well in school to graduate the soonest time possible. The first step to become a psychiatrist is to finish a college degree and obtain the necessary courses required for premed majors. After college, you need to enroll in a medical school so it is significant to take college courses related and relevant to psychiatry. Some of the common subjects you need to study are chemistry, anatomy, biology, physics and math. A college degree that qualifies for premed usually takes 4 years to finish. To speed up the process, you can take online accelerated degrees.

After college, you can proceed to a medical school or college to obtain your doctorate degree in medicine. Courses in medical college also take 4 to 5 years to complete, and you can opt for online doctoral degrees. Before you can enroll in medical schools, you need to pass the admission test imposed by the state or the college you want to enroll in. If you want to enroll in a popular or prestigious medical school, you need to obtain high scores on the admission test and good grades from your college undergraduate program.

Some psychiatrists have specializations like child, clinical, or forensic psychiatry. If you want to know how to become a child psychiatrist or forensic psychiatrist, you should take special courses or subjects on this specialized field of study. The first two years of your doctorate degree program will focus on the theories and disciplines in general psychiatry. The last two years will be focused on your specialization depending on what specialization you choose. Some of the common courses you should take to complete your doctorate degree are biochemistry, physiology, anatomy, pharmacology, medical sciences and medical ethics. Once you finish your doctorate degree program in psychiatry, you should then pass the licensure exam and finish your residency program before you can practice as a private psychiatrist.

The residency requirement for psychiatry is 4 years. Three years will be psychiatry residency and the last year will be residency for specialty areas if you have a sub-specialty in psychiatry like clinical, geriatric, child or forensic psychiatry. After finishing your residency, you can now obtain your certification from the regulating body or agency in your country and practice as a private psychiatrist in your state or country.

Treating people’s mental problems are complex and should be done accurately that is why the education and training requirements are also very intensive and rigorous. Patients depend on your expertise and knowledge, and trust their life and health on your hands. Aside from achieving the necessary education, training and skills, a psychiatrist should also have compassion towards patients and should always provide help for the best interest of their patients and not just for earning a substantial income. Do not just learn how to become a psychiatrist but also most importantly, learn how to become a good, trustworthy, and reputable psychiatrist.