Steps to Become A Psychiatrist

Psychiatrists are people who deal with emotional problems or mental illnesses in their patients. They address these issues through psychotherapy, hospitalization, prescribed drugs and other treatments. Psychiatrists enjoy a lucrative salary package and high growth in employment in the US.

The article has all the steps to become a psychiatrist in the US but let’s look at their job requirements first.

What Does a Psychiatrist Do?

Psychiatrists are trained doctors who can prescribe medicines. These are some of their primary tasks:

  • Treat people with mental disorders
  • Treat people with emotional issues
  • Prescribe medication
  • Conduct therapy sessions
  • Discussing their issues/fear in detail to help patients overcome them
  • Primary source of help for people who are suffering from drug addiction

Steps to Become a Psychiatrist in the US

A psychiatrist must be licensed to practice in the US. These are the essential steps to become Psychiatrist:

  1. Undergraduate Degree

Students must have an undergraduate degree if they want to pursue a career in this field. Most of the schools do not require any specific major, however a degree which includes subjects like psychology, biology, math and chemistry may help the student in future.

  1. Medical College Admission Test

Medical schools filter applicants on the basis of different criterions, one of them being the standardized Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). MCAT consists of multiple-choice questions (MCQs) which cover physical science, biological science, writing and oral reasoning. This test is usually taken one year before college admissions.

  1. Medical School Graduation

Aspiring psychiatrists have to complete medical school and earn their Doctor of Medicine degree. Spanning a period of 4 years, the first two years of a medical program mostly consist of theoretical courses. Students spend their time in labs and classes studying different subjects including anatomy, neuroscience, pharmacology, biochemistry, bioscience, etc.

In the last two years, they diagnose and treat different diseases under the supervision of experienced doctors. Students are expected to serve as clinical clerkship where they get a lot of practical exposure. Those who are pursuing their career in psychiatry, treat patients with mental illnesses during this period. Some students also join the American Psychiatric Association (APA) which helps them publish papers, continuing education access and practice management assistance.

  1. Residency Training

After graduating, a student must also complete a four-year residency program. This program involves treating patients with various mental illnesses. They spend additional three years in diagnosing illness and treating patients by using different techniques and therapies. This training takes place at a hospital under the supervision of experienced psychiatrists. Students have to deal directly with patients.

  1. Fellowship Program

Some professionals want to seek their career in a specific specialty. The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) recognizes 10 types of sub-specialties. It requires an additional year of fellowship program for students who want to specialize in a particular area.

  1. Obtain a Medical License

It is mandatory to have a license to practice any field of medicine in the US. However, the requirements vary from state to state. Students will have to complete their medical degree from a licensed school, complete their residency training and pass the license test called the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination.

  1. Certification

Even though it is not mandatory, some psychiatrists opt for it. These certificates can be obtained from ABPN.

How Much Does a Psychiatrist Earn in the US?

The annual mean pay of a Psychiatrist was $220,380 in 2018. The highest paying states were Hawaii, paying $269,800, followed by Connecticut, paying $258,200 and Maine, paying $256,270 in 2018.

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