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How Can I Become a Psychiatrist?

psychiatristFor those who are thinking of becoming a psychiatrist but not sure of where to begin, it is important to take the time to plan out one’s schooling and on-the-job training before taking that first step. As this profession continues to grow, more psychiatrists than ever are enjoying a career that not only pays well, but can lead to years of helping countless patients with a number of serious medical conditions. Here is a closer look at exactly how a student can make their way through school and training to become a fully certified psychiatrist.

Bachelor’s Degree

CNN now reports that psychiatry remains one of the most highly-rated and favorable jobs in the country, and the first challenge for those who would like to become a psychiatrist is receiving a bachelor’s degree. During this period, students will have the most leeway when it comes to choosing their own classes as well as their own degree, but a few things should be taken into consideration.

As with all majors, undergraduates will need to take a wide array of courses ranging from math and social sciences to literature and history. They will also need to take courses that have been specifically geared towards their major. Most graduate programs for psychiatry require a bachelor’s degree in a similar field, but not all students will need to receive a degree in psychology. Some of the other popular options include sociology, anatomy, physiology, and even zoology.

Medical School

While taking the upper level classes, the student will also need to take the MCAT in order to be accepted into a medical school. Their acceptance into the medical school of their choice will be determined by their undergraduate grades, MCAT scores, and a number of interviews and essays. Medical school can take anywhere from 4 to 5 years and will include concentrated work in fields such as psychology and pathology.

Residency, Licensing, and Certification

The next step that must be carried out is one’s residency which can take place across any number of specialty hospitals, inpatient care programs, outpatient rotations, and neurology departments. During the end of one’s residency or immediately after the completion of residency, the student must then pass their state board exams to practice medicine. There are also a number of options for national certifications or certifications in special fields. While it is not completely mandatory, most psychiatrists will want to test for their ABPN, or American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, as many hospitals and private practices require this certification for those that they hire.

Practicing Psychiatry

Overall, the process of becoming a license and certified psychiatrist can take anywhere from 9 to 12 years. After completion, the psychiatrist then has a wide array of options for advancing their career. According to the United States Department of Labor, some of the most common choices for certified psychiatrists include personal practices, substance abuse hospitals, rehab centers, universities, and outpatient programs. Many of these options not only provide great job security, but an environment that will enable the psychiatrist to potentially help hundreds or even thousands of patients over the years.