If you are wondering “how to become a psychiatrist,” this guide is made for you. Throughout this article, we will dive into what a psychiatrist is and what a psychiatrist does and the exact steps you can take to become one.
Becoming a psychiatrist offers a challenging but fulfilling career choice where you can truly feel as though you are making a difference in other people’s lives. Working with individuals one-on-one, there is no one day that is the same in psychiatry.
Throughout this guide, you will discover:
- What is a Psychiatrist?
- What is the Difference Between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?
- What Does a Psychiatrist Do?
- The Steps to Become a Psychiatrist
- How Long Does It Take to Become a Psychiatrist
- How Much Does a Psychiatrist Make?
So, let’s start with the question: “What is a psychiatrist?”
What is a Psychiatrist?
A psychiatrist is technically and primarily a doctor or physician. When becoming a psychiatrist, you must complete four years of medical school followed by four years of residency.
Generally, psychiatrists diagnose, treat, and prevent mental health disorders, such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, PTSD, insomnia, and more. Within this mental health profession, you can also prescribe medications to help aid treatment.
What is the Difference Between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?
Many individuals use psychologist and psychiatrist interchangeably. This is completely understandable since both of these professions diagnose and treat individuals with mental health disorders. However, it is important to note that these are, in fact, two separate professions.
So, what’s the difference?
The biggest difference between the two is that a psychiatrist has a medical degree, and thus, uses talk therapy, medication, and more to help treat their patients.
Meanwhile, a psychologist has a Ph.D. and primarily uses talk therapy for treating their patients. At the same time, both of these professions are regulated and anyone practicing psychiatry or psychology must be properly licensed in their state or country of practice.
Additionally, the umbrella term, “therapist,” is frequently used to describe psychologists, counselors, or psychotherapists. These professions all use talk therapy as a form of treating or helping mental health cases. However, requirements for the use of this title vary from state to state and country to country. Typically, therapists, counsellors and psychiatrists are great potential careers for the visually impaired.
What Does a Psychiatrist Do?
A day in the life of a psychiatrist can look very different depending on where the person works and what kind of patients they have scheduled for their day.
In hospital settings, a psychiatrist delivers in-patient care, which involves more serious suicidal or volatile patients, and includes discussions with the care team and assessment and discussions with the patient regarding their symptoms, treatment progression, and any medication side effects.
Meanwhile, some psychiatrists stick to outpatient programs or divide their time between both in-patient and out-patient appointments. This usually involves set times with each person where talk therapy is used, alongside discussion regarding their current medications.
All in all, psychiatry offers a very rewarding career, especially if you’re looking for a career change. While it can be a mentally taxing profession, there are many upsides, such as helping a person overcome anxiety or depression or helping a suicidal individual find purpose and reasons to live.
The Steps to Become a Psychiatrist
So, what are the steps you need to take when becoming a psychiatrist? What do you need to become a psychiatrist? And can you become a psychiatrist without medical training or a psychology degree?
A word of caution here: you do need to invest money and time toward this career, including attending and completing a medical degree. If this is something you do not want to do, then another career choice, such as Rapid Transformational Therapy®, might be better suited to you.
With that in mind and if you are still set on psychiatry, here are the exact steps you need to take:
Step 1: Obtain an Undergraduate Degree.
Prior to attending medical school and getting a psychiatry degree, you need to complete a bachelor’s degree from a university or college. While you do not need a certain type of degree, most medical schools will require at least one credit for biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and calculus classes.
Additionally, you will likely want to research what GPA (grade point average) is required to gain acceptance to medical school.
Step 2: Take the MCAT.
Once you have completed your undergraduate degree, you will want to study hard to complete and pass the medical school entrance exam, the MCAT. Typically, you will need a 511/528 score to gain acceptance.
This test covers: biological and biochemical foundations of living systems, chemical and physical foundations of biological systems, psychological, social, and biological foundations of behavior, and critical analysis and reasoning skills.
Ensure you prepare accordingly!
Step 3: Apply for Medical School.
Fill out the necessary forms and complete the prerequisites to apply for medical school. Once accepted, your work does not end there.
Medical school is a four-year endeavor. However, having good grades can improve your options and chances of obtaining a good residency, particularly if you have your heart set on a specialty, like psychiatry.
You may also want to look into medical schools that offer psychiatry programs, so that you can set yourself up for success further down the line and make a smooth transition into your residency.
Step 4: Graduate & Apply for Your Medical License.
Wherever you intend on completing your residency is where you should apply for a medical license. This often involves taking a state or country-wide exam. In some situations, additional information may be required, such as a background check.
Step 5: Complete Your Psychiatry Residency.
Ensure you look up the exact psychiatrist requirements in your country or state during this time to understand what you need to do upon conclusion of your residency.
Usually, psychiatry residencies are four years in length. Generally, a residency means you are a “doctor in training.” During this time, you will learn about various mental health conditions and suitable treatments or medical protocols.
Step 6: Get Your Certification.
As a psychiatrist, certification shows you are qualified to offer mental health advice and treatment. Depending on your state or country, there is usually a board-wide exam you can take and complete to obtain this. Typically, this certification must be renewed every 10 years.
Step 7: Look Into & Complete Licensing Requirements.
In many places, you are required to complete continuing education credits to maintain licensing. Once you have your license, you will want to stay on top of this.
From there, you will likely work alongside nurses, other doctors, social workers, and more, helping individuals improve and better their lives and address their psychological needs.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Psychiatrist?
Unfortunately, you cannot become a psychiatrist without undertaking a medical degree. This means that about eight years of schooling is required before you undergo your residency for another four years. In total, it can take 12 years or more to become a fully licensed and certified psychiatrist, depending on breaks or pauses between schooling and training.
Some individuals may choose to take off some time between degrees to complete their MCAT, since a large portion of time and attention needs to be paid toward studying and preparing for this exam.
All in all, this means that if you were set on psychiatry right out of high school, the youngest age that you would be able to become a licensed psychiatrist is 30.
Another note here, it also requires a huge financial investment to become a psychiatrist. It can cost upwards of $250,000 to take all the necessary schooling, examination, and more. On average, this may add up to $330,000. This further means that after school, you may play catch-up when it comes to your finances and paying off any student loans.
How Much Does a Psychiatrist Make?
In psychiatry, many individuals make around $208,000 per year. However, the lower 25% may make around $149,000, especially when first starting out. This often places the average hourly wage of a psychiatrist at about $130.
Overall, your exact salary may depend on where you work and what type of psychiatry work you are doing, and how experienced you are (such as how many years you have been practicing).
Find a Fulfilling and Rewarding Career Today!
Maybe you do not want to invest lots of time and money into a psychiatry degree. Yet, you still want to help others overcome challenges and improve their lives.
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If you are looking for a career change ton truly help others, RTT® might be right for you. Download the prospectus today to discover more about becoming an RTT® therapist.