How To Become A Psychiatrist

How to Become a Psychiatrist in the U.S.

Knowing how to become a psychiatrist in the US and what they do is the first step towards making a decision to become one. An aspirant must know what the job of a psychiatrist entails. Their information must include everything from schooling and licensing to potential income. Armed with this information, a student can make an informed choice, such as becoming a psychiatrist vs. psychologist.

Also, if you need guidance with other healthcare fields, also read our blog:-

How to Become a Physical Therapist

Who is a Psychiatrist?

The definition of a psychiatrist is; they are doctors who are specialized and trained to treat patients with mental illness. They seek a license with the same skill sets as M.D’s (Doctor of Medicine) and help doctors with prescriptions. 

Not many people know that psychiatrists are not the same as psychologists. They often think that both professionals treat patients twice the mental problem. They can use medication to help a patient, and the other (psychologist) get the qualification to prescribe any medication. However, they uses counseling as a method to help a patient. Also, psychiatrists prefer working along with doctors, psychologists, and social workers.

Psychiatrists work for hospitals, mental healthcare facilities, government agencies, and other institutional units where a psychiatrist is needed. They mostly practice on their own.

How Does a Psychiatrist Help?

Psychiatrists seek qualification to diagnose, prevent, and treat mental disorders. They take care of patients who have mild attacks of anxiety or patients who suffer from severe disorders, which can cause bizarre and dangerous behaviors and consequences within them. Psychiatrists can also help addictions (drug, alcohol, sexual, pornography, food, weight loss, etc.).

Psychiatrists like psychologists talk to patients, their families, and other healthcare professionals about the case of a patient to understand the reason and origin of the problem. As a result, a psychiatrist can prescribe either medication or use shock therapy to treat a patient.

Different Types of Psychiatrists

  1. Adult psychiatrists: Adult psychiatrists are general psychiatrists who can treat all kinds of mental problems, such as mild stress, severe and chronic mental disorders.
  2. Adolescent and Child Psychiatrists: Adolescent and child psychiatrists are well trained and qualified professionals who can treat all patients but prefer to help and work with children and their psychiatric problems.
  3. Addiction Psychiatrists: Addiction psychiatrists help individuals with addiction problems such as alcohol, drugs, food, weight, obsession, etc.
  4. Geriatric Psychiatrists: Geriatric psychiatrists help older adults with dementia and psychiatric problems.
  5. Consultation-Liaison psychiatrists: These psychiatrists work as consultants to a physician in a medical facility. They help patients with mental problems to seek admission into the hospital, mainly for physical illnesses or injuries.
  6. Forensic Psychiatrists: Forensic psychiatrists work towards the evaluation of criminals to identify if the crimes committed by them could be connected to their mental disorders. These psychiatrists work in state hospitals or prisons.

Educational Qualifications to Become a Psychiatrist

These are physicians who deal with people who are suffering from mental illness. To become a psychiatrist, the person has to take extensive training. From the very start, he has to do the hard work. The aspirant has to study science subjects during their undergrad. In addition, one has to do the four years of study in medical school and a four-year residency training post that. To get the licence, it is important to take the examination.  They need more experience before giving the examination of the certificate for the license. To become a psychiatrist is a hard nut to crack but these procedures can help you break it.

Attend Undergraduate School

To start with, the person must have a clear vision during the school days. While attending these studies, one has to include science subjects that base the profession.

Earn a Medical Degree 

First, the student has to clear the medical entrance test. After that, the student has to attend medical school. To become a psychiatrist, the student has to study for four years. These four years include two parts. In the first part, the student has to study in the classroom for two years, while the second part deals with the laboratory work. Laboratory work is a supervised clinical license. These courses include pharmacology, anatomy, and pathology. The student also learns to conduct the examinations and to diagnose the patient.

Gaining Residency Training

After medical school, the student has to gain four years of residency training. In this post, doctors have to work in the hospitals during this period, and the hospital pays them. The student must do the psychiatric training of 36 months. Besides, he has to do the training in other fields, including internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, etc.

Become Licenced

To serve, the psychiatrist must become the state-licensed physician bypassing the license examination. Some licensing boards may allow reciprocity between the states. To become a psychiatrist, the physician must have to get a federal narcotics license and register with the drug enforcement administration.

Consider a Sub-specialty

After completing the residency, the physician may choose to specialize in another field. For this, he has to study for one more year. He may choose geriatric, psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine, and addiction medicine. After completing the study, the psychiatrist can contact the board about the certificate.

Career Opportunities for a Psychiatrist

Psychiatry offers a wide range of job opportunities. Nowadays, people are suffering from mental problems due to their work or family problems. So this profession is growing at a greater pace in society because mental stability is every person’s demand. A psychiatrist treats the mentally retarded people as well as ones suffering from mental problems. The psychiatrists have a wide range of career opportunities he can choose, as he likes. These career opportunities are as follows:

  • Run one’s own private clinic
  • Work as
  • an occupational therapist
  • a consultant psychiatrist
  • an adolescent and child psychiatrist
  • with the court as a forensic psychiatrist
  • a neurodevelopment disability psychiatrist
  • Learning disability psychiatrist
  • Psychosomatic medicine psychiatrist
  • Emergency psychiatrist
  • Consultation liaison
  • Emergency psychiatry
  • Addiction psychiatry
  • Geriatrics

What is the Scope of Becoming a Psychiatrist?

Psychiatry provides the physician with a wide scope of career opportunities. In psychiatry, there are various branches, and students can choose any branch according to their choice. After becoming a psychiatrist, the student can opt for further specialization, which will need one year more of study. Psychiatrists are among the few medical professionals allowed to prescribe drugs. They use the biomedical approach to deal with mentally ill patients and advance by building their practices. Expansion in the healthcare industry, increase in population, and life span demands the psychiatrist. Because due to the pressure of work, people are suffering from a mental problem, and they need consultation for the relief. Psychiatrists who work in clinics and hospitals, they work more regular hours as compared to private ones. They work irregular hours.

It doesn’t matter that you are a psychiatrist or a doctor, you have to study hard for being a doctor, and after that, you have to work irregular hours. They work as occupational therapists and social workers for resolving the problems and giving them a normal life.

Few Psychiatrist Career Opportunities

On becoming a psychiatrist, one can work:-

  • as a psychiatrist counselor and give consultation to the people
  • in regular hospitals as well as in mental hospitals
  • at rehabilitation centers who are dealing with alcoholism, addiction
  • in schools, colleges as a professor in medicine
  • in the health care centers
  • at a private nursing home
  • with the people suing for a divorce and other matters

What Does a Psychiatrist Do?

A psychiatrist is the one who deals with mental problems. A psychiatrist is a licensed doctor, specializing in curing people suffering from mental illness. One should have earned a medical degree to be in the field of psychiatry. They write a prescription for the patient suffering from a disorder arising from a physical or psychological imbalance. For being a psychiatrist, the person has to do the hard work from the very starting. The degree includes four years of undergrad school study, medical school study, and residency training. 

They play a major role in treating the person who is suffering mentally. Generally, people get confused between psychiatrists and psychologists. A psychiatrist is a person who has a licensed degree in the field of treatment of a mentally ill person. A psychologist is a person who holds a Ph.D. This person does not hold a medical degree and cannot prescribe medicine. The psychiatrist also deals with the mentally retarded persons as well as with the person who is suffering from alcoholism.

Along with the medication, the psychiatrist also deals with psychiatric training, which includes psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. A psychiatrist is the one who indulges in the health profession and prescribes psychiatric medication.

Types of Psychiatrists

  • Cross-cultural psychiatry
  • Adult psychiatry
  • Adolescent and child psychiatry
  • Emergency psychiatry
  • Forensic psychiatry
  • Addiction psychiatry
  • Learning disability
  • Psychosomatic medicine
  • Neurodevelopment disabilities
  • Neuropsychiatry
  • Consultation-liaison psychiatry

These psychiatrists specialize in their own field and deal with a certain age group.

Adolescent and child psychiatry deals with child and teenage problems. Those psychiatrists who practice at the workplace refer to as organizational/occupational psychiatrists. While forensic psychiatrists are those, who work in the court and help in solving criminal cases. They are also specialized in the following things:

  • Psychopharmacology
  • Psychiatric genetics
  • Nerve imaging
  • Sleep medicine
  • Pain medicine
  • Palliative medicine
  • Eating disorders
  • Sexual disorders
  • Women’s health
  • Global Mental Health
  • Early psychosis intervention
  • Mood disorders and anxiety disorders.

The psychiatrist works in various fields, but they have to deal with the same problem, known as mental illness. They are physicians who serve the fundamental role in our society and have an effect on our lives.

How to Become a Psychiatrist In a Nutshell

To become a psychiatrist, you need to set aside some goals and remember that a psychiatrist is different from a psychologist and a psychoanalyst. To be a psychiatrist, you need a medical degree like how doctors do, whereas psychologists and psychoanalysts do not need a medical degree to practice.

Educational Qualifications 

Psychiatry is a broad area in science; it has various branches in medicine such as child psychiatry, addiction psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry, psychotherapy, and forensic psychiatry. It is a good idea if you are still in high school and have decided to become a psychiatrist. Then, you would know that it is essential to take lots of science classes that would gear you up for what lies ahead of you in medical school.

After completing high school, you have to enroll in a bachelor’s degree in science in psychology or any other pre-med subjects. The bachelor’s degree will take four years to complete, after which you have to select a medical school that you want to get into.  But in the first place, you need to sit for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) and score well to get admission.

Interview Process

Just remember getting into medical school is very aggressive and competitive. Prospective medical students have long waiting lists and need to score high in the MCAT test. Then before the selection and admission into med school, you will be called for an interview by the school board members. 

What Knowledge You’ll Gain?

In the first two years, you will practice in labs and will seek classroom instructions. Then, in the remaining two years, you will have clinical under the guidance of an experience M.D. The other subjects taught in med school are human physiology and anatomy, pharmacology, and pathology.

What After College?

After completion of med school, you will get an award of an M.D (Doctor of Medicine) certificate. Now you must do a four-year residency training before you sit for the licensure exam called USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination). As a result, you get to practice as a psychiatrist in your state.

You can do so now if you wish to study further and specialize in a particular subfield such as forensic psychiatry or child psychiatry. You’ll have to give an additional two years for the completion. 

 You need to divert into a field that you prefer most and are passionate about because what you are about to do will affect people’s lives in a significant way. Nevertheless, at times you are bound to get bogged down by getting involved too much in your patient’s lives. As a psychiatrist, you will tend to take such deep interest in how your patients feel that you might end up feeling depressed and sad. So make sure at all times you keep a professional yet a compassionate outlook towards your patients.

Roles and Responsibilities of the Psychiatrist

Psychiatrists are the physicians who deal with mental illness. And they prescribe the medicines and the treatment to their patients. The psychiatrist holds the licensed degree, which gives them the authority that they can prescribe the treatment. They hold various types of degrees in the same field and deal with the patient. Also, they can work in private hospitals, with the government, or in clinics, universities, etc, which will help them earn good sum. 

The roles of the various fields in the psychiatry comprise of:-

Role of the Psychiatrist in Mental Health Care

  • Whenever the new treatment arrive, the physician must tell the consequences of it to the patient
  • The physician must clear the picture of the procedure of the treatment so that the patient comes to know about the treatment
  • Talk in proper tone to the person who is suffering from mental illness
  • The physician must have the proper knowledge to make the connection between mental illness and physical illness

Role of the Psychiatrist in Child and Adolescence

  • The adult psychiatrist must be familiar with the problems of adults. He must have the proper knowledge related to this field
  • Tackle the problem related to the adults
  • Deal with the maturation problem and the psychological adaptation
  • Deal with mentally retarded children
  • Do the study in the research field, which includes the clinical study

The specific roles and responsibilities of the psychiatrist are in the form of duties include to:-

  • report
  • inform
  • protect
  • prescribe
  • inform the patient on treatment reversal
  • They are assessing and managing complex cases
  • Sharing care with another clinical team
  • Give consultation advice to colleague medical and no medical
  • Participating in the work of the multidisciplinary team

Psychiatrist Salary: How Much Does a Psychiatrist Earns?

The salary of a psychiatrist in the US is higher than many of the other areas of mental health. As a recent graduate, a student can expect to start working in a range of $45,000 and $175,000, according to Also, the pay depends on the location in which a psychiatrist will work. As a result, larger cities often pay more than small cities – pay can also vary by state. After working in the field for five years, a psychiatrist can expect a salary in the range of $83,000 to $226,500.

At ten years, the range goes up to $99,000 to 225,000. Those who work in the field for more than 20 years find pay falling in the range of $99,000 to $237,000. However, the exact rate will depend on the type of practice, as well as the location in which the psychiatrist practices. For instance, the median salary for psychiatrists in California is about $179,000, while the median salary in Vermont is $118,000.

What is the Salary Potential of a Psychiatrist?

The area of psychiatry in which a psychiatrist works will also weigh in on the salary potential. For instance, those who:-

  • work in a doctor’s office make a median salary of about $159,000
  • if they work in a mental hospital can expect to earn a median wage of about $166,000
  • Some of the top-earning positions for a psychiatrist include nursing care facilities with a median salary of about $190,000
  • state government positions with a median salary of about $196,000, and outpatient care facilities with a median salary of about $188,000.

A student must consider the various job availability and salary while making a decision to go into the field of psychiatry. In addition, the field of psychiatry is a growing field that continues to show steady growth over the years. Since psychiatrists are prime to treat mental illnesses, it is valuable to find out how to become a psychiatrist.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Psychiatrist?

I know you are on pins and needles to get out there and start practicing as a psychiatrist. But, what you need to understand is a field that needs a good education, loads of knowledge and experience. As a result, it’ll help you to excel as a psychiatrist.

Always remember this and tell others as well, that like any other healthcare profession, even being a psychiatrist is a very noble thought and action.  It is easy to cure a visible illness or an injury, but to cure something hidden deep in the human mind is quite challenging. Therefore, you must be well qualified and have the knowledge to treat a patient wisely. Else, you will end up causing more damage, which is unethical.

 Nevertheless, it takes 12 years to become a general psychiatrist and add an extra two years to become a specialty psychiatrist.

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