How Do I Become a Psychiatrist?

PsychiatristThe particularly studious observer of mental health, who also gravitates toward the medical profession, may want to become a psychiatrist. These highly trained professionals have a medical degree, concentrating on treating psychiatric disorders. Psychiatrists are in high demand in a wide range of settings and with various diverse populations. In order to become a psychiatrist, the educational route must be intricately planned over a span of more than 12 years. There are a multitude of factors when one is examining the decision to become a psychiatrist.

Required Education

A psychiatrist is required to complete a bachelor’s degree, a degree from an accredited school in medicine or osteopathy, and a four-year residency. Medical school admission is competitive and maintaining stellar grades during the undergraduate years is absolutely imperative. Following the successful completion of medical school, the new M.D. or D.O. will complete his/her residency, with three of the requisite four years concentrating on the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. One of the final steps in the aspiring psychiatrist’s journey is the completion of licensure. It entails a full day of written and oral exams administered by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in order to obtain the heralded title of “Board-Certified Psychiatrist.” Psychiatrists must be re-certified every ten years, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

Typical Settings and Specializations

A psychiatrist is often confused with psychologists and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. The most notable distinction is, however, that psychiatrists are physicians who are able to prescribe medication. This medication is typically utilized in conjunction with psychotherapy to promote a more cohesive treatment of mental illness. Psychiatrists can be found in a multitude of settings, many of which are clinical, meaning that they treat patients directly. Psychiatrists work in hospital settings, universities, hospices or private practices. Additionally, many psychiatrists choose a specific field in which to specialize, such as forensic/legal psychiatry, addictions, children/adolescents, geriatrics or veterans.

Therapeutic Treatment Techniques

Psychiatrists are fully trained in conducting individual assessments to obtain a diagnosis; to that end, they are well-versed in the utilization of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual to formulate a diagnosis and to create an appropriate treatment plan. Psychiatrists use psychotherapy (also known as “talk therapy”), but may also incorporate other counseling strategies during treatment, such as interpersonal or reality therapies. These may be used in conjunction with medication to complement a treatment plan.

Psychiatrist Salary Range

There is a strong demand for “board certified” psychiatrists currently; this trend is expected in increase in the forthcoming years as there is a greater cognizance of mental health issues. Because psychiatrists are highly-trained practioners, they are able to garner a salary that can average between $154,600-$191,000 per year, depending upon the professional setting in which they are practicing. Overall, psychiatry has been a stable part of the medical profession that is expected to expand.

Related Resource: General Practitioner

One who is considering the fields of medicine and/or psychology may regard the prospect of becoming a psychiatrist as a promising route, indeed. Though it requires a great deal of planning and numerous years of rigorous education, the psychiatrist will assuredly have many options for employment in a variety of clinical and research-based settings. The decision to become a psychiatrist will lead to an extremely rewarding, and challenging, career choice.