How to become a Psychiatrist

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How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby Thesputopia » Fri Jan 02, 2004 4:36 pm

Hi. I am a junior in high school and I am really interested in becoming a psychiatrist, but I need a lot of information. I need grounds and info, but I'm not sure where to find it. If anyone could help me out and give me advice on the steps to getting to where I want to be, that would be much appreciated. Really, any information would help. I'm just really naive in this area and I would like to have more knowledge about it. Thanks.

<edited by DrAdmin 11/29/09>

For people coming to this page looking for quick information about the steps to become a psychiatrist, here's information you'll find on the second page of this thread, but will likely find it useful:

As a quick summary:

First, you will have to do well in high school in order to get accepted to a decent college.

You will most likely go to college for 4 years and take the necessary pre-med courses, which includes 1 year of biology, 1 year of chemistry, 1 year of organic chemistry, and 1 year of physics. Around the end of your 3rd year of college, you will take the MCAT exam (like the SAT but for medical school). You will have to apply for medical schools, and acceptance will be based mostly on your grades in college and your MCAT scores.

Medical school then is an additional 4 years. The first 2 years are basic science classes - anatomy, biochemistry, pathology, histology, pharmacology, and more. The last 2 years are clinical rotations where you work with doctors and resident doctors rotating through all of the major areas of medicine - surgery, internal medicine, Ob-Gyn, pediatrics, psychiatry, neurology, and some electives. During your last year of medical school, you apply for a residency program in your field of interest - in your case psychiatry. You then go on interviews and the different programs. You rank the programs of interest to you, and the programs rank the applicants. It all goes into a computer, and around Mid-march you find out where you are doing your residency.

Residency in psychiatry is then a 4 year experience. You spend 4 months doing general medicine rotations either in pediatrics, family medicine, or internal medicine. You spend 2 months doing neurology rotations. The remainder of the residency is in a variety of areas of psychiatry plus electives. Essentially, you spend around 1 year doing inpatient psychiatry, 1 year doing outpatient psychiatry, and the remainder of the time is spent doing subspecialties of psychiatry - consultation liaison psychiatry (now called psychosomatic medicine), addiction psychiatry, child psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, and a few others, plus electives.

At the end of those 4 years, you are a board eligible psychiatrist.
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby Marie » Fri Jan 02, 2004 9:22 pm

Although they are not specific to psychiatry (they're about becoming a medical doctor, which is the same pathway to becoming a psychiatrist), check out the following websites: http://www.aamc.org/students/considering/careers.htm and http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/2320.html . People often confuse psychiatrists and psychologists, so if you're interested in psychology, check out http://www.apa.org/students/student1.html . Best of luck!
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist - Wow, Thanks!

Postby Guest » Sat Jan 31, 2004 3:19 pm

Those websites you provided are really helpful! I'm a sophmore in Highschool and am really interested in Psychiatry, but didn't quiter know how to become one. Thankyou very much.
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby Guest » Thu Apr 29, 2004 4:55 pm

you can also visit psychiatry.com ifu need more info
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby Guest » Thu May 20, 2004 8:29 pm

wow man, I am in the same predicament as you and the only thing that I'd love doin more than Architectural design/Programming is to be a psychologist(call me a shrink :-o ). Am also a sophomore high school.
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby kephartj » Thu May 20, 2004 9:34 pm

i like to help people with their problems. you know talk them through. them and give them options on what they can do. which one would i want to be.
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby DrDave » Thu May 20, 2004 10:24 pm

I am assuming you are asking whether you would rather be a psychiatrist than a psychologist? If so, check out the thread below. Basically, psychiatrists are medical doctors who can prescribe medications, so most do prescribe medications when appropriate. Psychologists can not prescribe medications (in almost all states) and are trained almost entirely on "talk therapy". If you are more interested in providing talk therapy, then you'd probably be more interested in being a psychologist.

Here's the thread to review:

Psychology compared to psychiatry
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby Guest » Thu Jun 24, 2004 6:05 pm

I have been a teacher for 6 years.

I'm married and have two children.

We have a good life but I'm not very happy because I when I got married at 19 I had to change my major and settle for a teaching degree.

What I really wanted was to be a physician, a psychiatrist.

During this semester, I realized that I surrendered my dream.

Now, I think is too late to consider going to any medical school anywhere.

What should I do?

Is it too late?

Are there any alternatives?

I hope there aren't any because I'm really scared to find out that it is not too late and then feel guilty for not having the guts to do it.

Can you help me?
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby DrDave » Thu Jun 24, 2004 7:11 pm

Only you know what you should do. I'd say it's never too late to go to medical school and become a psychiatrist, if you are smart enough and motivated enough.

Whether it is a good idea or not is a different story.

I'm not sure what type of alternatives you are looking for - like becoming a counselor or therapist, or as far as way to go to medical school as a second career?

As for feeling guilty about giving up on opportunities - there are always options that you have to pass up on. There is never any way to know whether you made the best decision.

First, I definitely wouldn't feel guilty for passing up an opportunity to become a psychiatrist as a second career - a lot of work would be involved, starting with taking the necessary classes to get into medical school, then going to medical school for 4 years, then doing a 4 year residency. That doesn't include the cost of doing this - which for you is not only the tuition costs, but also the lost income from leaving your current job.

I've known people who did it - most weren't married with kids, but a few were. They had spouses and circumstances where they didn't have excessive concerns about finances or child care issues - which would be huge concerns for most people.

These are obviously issues you need to discuss with your spouse - as it will have a dramatic impact on your relationship and your family - not necessarily a bad impact, but it would change things significantly.

You said you aren't happy because at 19 you had to get married, change majors, and settle for a teaching degree - perhaps passing up on a psychiatry career isn't the reason for your unhappiness. I think teaching is an excellent profession, and I know many teachers who are very happy doing what they do. Is it something specific about your job that perhaps you just need a different teaching position? If you are truly unhappy, perhaps meeting with a therapist would be helpful?

Please don't take this as professional advice, I'm just someone who has been through the process - not an expert by any means. I also went straight through college to medical school and residency, so I can't comment on what it's like to go back after another career.
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby Guest » Mon Aug 02, 2004 8:25 pm

go for it!!
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby Guest » Mon Aug 02, 2004 8:37 pm

Sweetheart it is never too late.My mother has 2 children and at age 37 she changed her career and went to nursing school.I know becoming a physician is a bit more difficult but you can do it.I am in my last year of high school and i have been wanting to be a doctor for the longest.I have been asking Admin Questions concerning the medical field.You dont want to be 60 or 70 years old having regrets about what you could have became.I think teaching is a good profession.But if you you are in the wrong field then i think you need to go back to school to become a Psychiatrist or whatever it is you want to become. I know for a fact that most teachers tell there students that they can be what ever they want to be. I think you need to take that advice for yourself,and dont let anything stand in your way.I'll wish you the best of luck..GO FOR IT!!!!!!! this is Kandy
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby Corpsman-Up » Tue Aug 03, 2004 11:19 pm

Is it do-able?

Absolutely.

Is it friggin' hard?

You bet.

I am attending medical school as a second career, and I love it. However, I also have a spouse who supports me wholeheartedly in following this aspiration, and I have a military affiliation which helps with the financial aspect.

If (IFF) you have the support of your family, (and not whimsical "jeepers it'd sure be swell if sweetums was a doctor" support, but actual informed support), I would say go for it. There are two people I can think of in my class who were teachers before medical school. They are doing juuust fine.

BTW, I am 36 years old. There is one woman in my class who is 50. Age needn't be a barrier, unless you choose to let it. Make sure you have examined the trek thoroughly, however. It is not for everyone.
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Tru story here

Postby Guest » Thu Aug 12, 2004 4:47 am

True story here!

My mums friends husband (Long chain) before going to medical school, was a Chemistry teacher, he decided to change in his early 30's in which he became a doctor.

he carried this on into his 40's and now is (not sure what its exactly called) a A grade dcotor and also a fully qualified psychiatrist.
Yet he started at the age of 30!

Heh I guess it's hard I myself want to beceome a psychiatrist unliek my mum who is a psychologist!
But yet there is one majoy difference, and i know this fromfirst ahdn experience, Psyhciatrist earn in nearly all cases MUCH more than psychologists even when taking private patients full time.

But its not all about the money and yes psychologists themselves (privates) earn a nice ammount of money and is a good enjoyable job, but is damned hard to become one!
yet my mums 47 and she's been qualified for 5 years yet she is still one and is managing great etc. And still managed to carry ons tudying even through the death of my father!

So there is no stopping you to become a psychiatrist no matter what your age or gender, ethnicity etc. Hope eveyrone achieves there dream, for I for one am going to hehe! :-D
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby Guest » Wed Sep 22, 2004 3:21 pm

Hi, Im a Freshmen in High school and I've been wanting to be a psychiatrist for a long time and now I have to do a project on career search and I cant find any thing about how to become a psychiatrist or how long I have to go to schoolto be one.Please give me some kind of web sight I can go to to find info.


Thesputopia wrote:
Hi. I am a junior in high school and I am really interested in becoming a psychiatrist, but I need a lot of information. I need grounds and info, but I'm not sure where to find it. If anyone could help me out and give me advice on the steps to getting to where I want to be, that would be much appreciated. Really, any information would help. I'm just really naive in this area and I would like to have more knowledge about it. Thanks.
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby Corpsman-Up » Wed Sep 22, 2004 4:39 pm

This is the website for you, definitely.

Look around, use the search function, and see the links in the upper right-hand section of the front page.

Good luck on your paper! :-D
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby DrDave » Wed Sep 22, 2004 7:27 pm

As a quick summary:

First, you will have to do well in high school in order to get accepted to a decent college.

You will most likely go to college for 4 years and take the necessary pre-med courses, which includes 1 year of biology, 1 year of chemistry, 1 year of organic chemistry, and 1 year of physics. Around the end of your 3rd year of college, you will take the MCAT exam (like the SAT but for medical school). You will have to apply for medical schools, and acceptance will be based mostly on your grades in college and your MCAT scores.

Medical school then is an additional 4 years. The first 2 years are basic science classes - anatomy, biochemistry, pathology, histology, pharmacology, and more. The last 2 years are clinical rotations where you work with doctors and resident doctors rotating through all of the major areas of medicine - surgery, internal medicine, Ob-Gyn, pediatrics, psychiatry, neurology, and some electives. During your last year of medical school, you apply for a residency program in your field of interest - in your case psychiatry. You then go on interviews and the different programs. You rank the programs of interest to you, and the programs rank the applicants. It all goes into a computer, and around Mid-march you find out where you are doing your residency.

Residency in psychiatry is then a 4 year experience. You spend 4 months doing general medicine rotations either in pediatrics, family medicine, or internal medicine. You spend 2 months doing neurology rotations. The remainder of the residency is in a variety of areas of psychiatry plus electives. Essentially, you spend around 1 year doing inpatient psychiatry, 1 year doing outpatient psychiatry, and the remainder of the time is spent doing subspecialties of psychiatry - consultation liaison psychiatry (now called psychosomatic medicine), addiction psychiatry, child psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, and a few others, plus electives.

At the end of those 4 years, you are a board eligible psychiatrist.
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby Guest » Mon Oct 04, 2004 6:43 pm

hey,
i still don't understand. What classes do you take in high school to become a psychologyst then what do you do in college to get your degree... im very confused and would like a little better understanding to fullfil my dream. :-? please help..
thank you
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby Corpsman-Up » Mon Oct 04, 2004 7:12 pm

In HS, take college prep courses.

In college, take whatever major you like, but make sure that you take the pre-medical science courses to prepare you for the MCAT exam.

Then, apply to medical school, and after you finish that you can become a psychiatrist by completing residency training in that specialty.

That's the Cliff Notes version...

Good luck!
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby Guest » Sat Aug 13, 2005 10:37 pm

hi there..i'm a junior n high school also and i want 2 become a psychiatrist. What all do you need to know because i know ALOT of stuff about psychiatry. hmm lets see. a psychiatrist basically diagnoses and treats patients who are mentally ill, they can use either therapy or prescribe them a medication. They can work independently or with a company.(i plan on working independently). In order to become a licensed psychiatrist you must complete high school. get your bachelors degree in college.have experience working in a medical setting, and take a couple tests to become certified or licensed in your state.(its 2 tests here in texas i think).when you're in school you can decide whether 2 specialize in pediatric,geriatric or adult psychology.i figure i'll be done with all my school and training by the time i'm 30. the average income for a psychiatrist in the united states is 160,000per year.i'm not sure if u live in the u.s. or not.i started reading about psychology when i was in 9th grade and i found that Half Price Books stores carry ALOT of psychological books.you might also want to read about sociology.its about the behaviors of humans and stuff like that.i hope i helped u
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby DrDave » Sun Aug 14, 2005 9:37 am

Junior in HS,

You did provide some accurate information there, but it's not quite complete. I think it's great that you already have an idea of what you want to do with your life, but I would suggest keeping an open mind throughout college and medical school - you might be surprised to find something even more interesting to you than psychiatry.

The other thing to realize is that while you said after college you need to get some experience working in a medical setting, you are accurate - but not complete. You actually need to do well enough in college with your grades and MCAT test scores to get into medical school - which is very competitive. Med school is 4 VERY challenging years.

During your last year of medical school, you apply for residency. Psychiatry residency programs are generally not that competitive, but the top programs are. The residency program is 4 years, during which time you do clinical work under the supervision of other physicians. Parts of psychiatry residency are very hard work with little sleep and long hours. At some programs, the entire residency may be that way. At many psychiatry residencies, you do get a little bit less work the last 2 years - but it is still a lot of time at most programs.

You obviously pay for college. You have to pay for medical school, but most people can get educational loans (lots of them) for medical school. Residency pays around $35k-$40k, which doesn't sound too bad, but based on an hourly rate is probably close to minimum wage. Most people defer their loans throughout that time, but some will start paying them off near the end of residency. With somewhat less work the last two years, some programs will allow residents to do moonlighting work. This type of work can vary a lot, but can pay fairly well. Some very motivated residents have made a decent living, but they were VERY busy.

Once done with residency, you are "board eligible" which means you can work as a psychiatrist at most places. There is then a two step certification exam that takes about 1 year to complete if you are lucky and pass everything your first try. There is first a written exam - multiple choice, typical type of exam, that I believe has around an 80% pass rate. It has a lot of very tough questions as 1/3 of it is neurology and 2/3 are psychiatry. From what I recall, the neurology questions were VERY hard. You have to get a certain percent right on each part to pass. So, if you ace the psychiatry part, you can still fail the exam if you don't get enough right on the neurology part.

The second part of the exam is the more controversial. Once you've passed the written exam, you will get scheduled for an oral exam. The oral exam consists of 2 parts - a video portion and a live patient. For the video portion, you watch a 30 minute video of part of an interview, and then you meet with 2 examiners (I heard it may now go to 1 examiner plus a floating examiner who comes in and out of the various rooms) for a 30 minute test. You are expected to present the patient and then answer questions from the examiners.

For the live patient part of the test, you have a real patient you've never seen before come in the room, and you have 30 minutes to interview that patient. You then have a 30 minute test where you present the case to 2 (now maybe 1?) examiner and then answer questions.

While the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology has tried to make this an objective exam. Personally, I think it is an awful test. Not only is it very anxiety provoking which effects some candidates much more than others, but there are many many random factors. The particular patient, the particular examiners, what questions you might get asked and whether they fit in with your knowledge areas or not. Of course, the entire interview is an artificial situation.

I'm not sure there is a better way to test candidates, though - as the ability to interview patients is a vital part of psychiatry. And the field of psychiatry is trying to maintain credibility of the profession - so it is important to make sure board certified candidates are able to effectively talk with patients. Of course, I think this is important for almost all fields of medicine - yet very few other fields require an oral exam. Most of the abilities to interview, present, and understand patients are observed during residency, but I suppose completion of residency does not necessarily mean you are competent. My thought is that just passing the exam doesn't mean you are competent either.

And did I mention that the oral exam has around a 50% pass rate? This is for people who have done well enough in college to get into med school. Have completed med school and matched in a residency. Have completed a residency and passed a challenging written exam.

Your target age for finishing training is probably about right.

Complete High School around age 18, complete college around age 22, complete medical school around age 26, and complete residency around age 30. That's if you go straight through.

More and more people are taking extra time in college (5 years instead of 4), having a career before going back to med school and taking time off during med school (to do things like research or pursue a second degree).

In my case, I happily went straight through the whole process - actually cut one year off of college but added an extra year of residency to do a combined internal medicine / psychiatry residency program. I am very glad to be done with the training aspect of things.

I probably should have broken my answer down into several different threads, but maybe eventually I'll put together one thread of frequently asked questions or something like that.

Thanks for your comments!
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby Guest » Sun Aug 14, 2005 6:57 pm

Hi- I started to medical school in Tennessee when I was 40 after entering college as a mother of two at age 34.My kids are grown now and I am now a 55 year old practicing gero-psychiatrist and I really love working with my patients. Certainly you are not too old to pursue your dream. It can be hard to complete a medical education as a young mother but not impossible with good support in place.
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby Guest » Wed Aug 17, 2005 8:21 pm

Thank You so much for your inspiring response. I am a 34 yr. old single mom with a 3 year old daughter. I am currently at a junior college and planning to transfer. I was just becoming discouraged about pursuing psychiatry until I read what you said. Thanks again..you have touched me.
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby Guest » Sun Aug 21, 2005 9:43 pm

I am a junior in high school and i have to write a career search paper as well. Psychiatry has always been my dream, and i just want to thank all of the people on this site for providing such copious and accurate information on the subject. You have saved my life with this paper!!! THANK YOU!!!
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby Guest » Tue Sep 06, 2005 7:54 am

I deeply appreciate your information here. It's most informative. I'm currently in college and hope as well to push into med school and eventually become a psychiatrist. I did have one question though that still lingers. Is there a doctoral thesis involved in the graduation process from med school?
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby Polymath » Tue Sep 06, 2005 9:28 pm

no
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby Guest » Fri Feb 10, 2006 12:10 pm

I'm a senior in HS gettin ready for the whole college scene and my goal has always been to become a psychiatrist. Although i have at many times become discouraged because of all the people that say it is a very hard career because of med school being able to get accepted to one and then the residency and every thing like that. Is it really as hard as it seems to become a psychiatrist and is it worth going through all this hardwork?

[ Edited by Admin on 2006/2/10 18:14 ]
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby psychmike » Wed Oct 11, 2006 7:40 pm

I am another future psychiatrist with no clue where to start. I served in the military for five years as an air traffic controller. I am currently working in Ecuador now as an air traffic controller. I have researched some colleges online but didn't know what exactly to look for. Do I go for a BS in psychology? What would your opinion be concerning online colleges? Would Med School look at it as a bad thing? I think an online college would be my only option right now since I am not in the states. What do you recommend?
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby DrDave » Wed Oct 11, 2006 10:13 pm

You can major in any field as long as you complete all your pre-med classes. I can not imagine there is any online college that would be adequate to get accepted into medical school.
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby Guest » Sat Sep 06, 2008 12:39 am

Hey I'm a junior thinking about it too. Not sure I want to spend so much time in school though if I get the chance. Is there any easier way? haha I hope so. I take psychology right now and love the class. I've always been interested in those TV scenes involving therapy even though those aren't 100% accurate. If only it was a lot easier and quicker then this would be an easy decision for me.
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby DrDave » Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:33 pm

Guest wrote:Hey I'm a junior thinking about it too. Not sure I want to spend so much time in school though if I get the chance. Is there any easier way? haha I hope so. I take psychology right now and love the class. I've always been interested in those TV scenes involving therapy even though those aren't 100% accurate. If only it was a lot easier and quicker then this would be an easy decision for me.


As a Junior in high school, it is really too early to know exactly what you want to do for a career. Unfortunately, there are not many ways to shorten the path to becoming a psychiatrist. You could do one of the BA/MD programs that may allow you to combine medical school and college into 6 or 7 years, but you give up a lot in the process - you miss out on the college experience and never really fit in with the medical school class. This process is definitely not easier but is quicker.

You mention enjoying the TV scenes involving therapy - in general that type of therapy is now more likely to be provided by a psychologist than a psychiatrist. In my opinion, the path to becoming a psychologist is significantly less difficult than the path to become a psychiatrist.

If you are really considering the psychiatrist route, I'd suggest you take the required pre-med classes as well as all of the other college courses that you find interesting. Give yourself time, as it is still very early to be locking yourself into a career choice. You'll have just as many options even if you decide not to pursue medical school / psychiatry.
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby Guest » Mon Jan 12, 2009 6:19 pm

Is it bad if I kinda want to become a psychiatrist for the salary? I mean what I REALLY want to do is become a sociologist, because it's my favorite subject. However, the pay for a sociologist isn't that great and I'm afraid that actually conducting sociological research won't be nearly as enjoyable or fascinating as learning about sociology. Anyways, I plan on majoring in sociology as well as taking any required premed courses. I also wouldn't mind being a psychiatrist, it isn't my top choice but it's definitely up there
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby DrDave » Mon Jan 12, 2009 8:17 pm

Guest wrote:Is it bad if I kinda want to become a psychiatrist for the salary? I mean what I REALLY want to do is become a sociologist, because it's my favorite subject. However, the pay for a sociologist isn't that great and I'm afraid that actually conducting sociological research won't be nearly as enjoyable or fascinating as learning about sociology. Anyways, I plan on majoring in sociology as well as taking any required premed courses. I also wouldn't mind being a psychiatrist, it isn't my top choice but it's definitely up there


On the surface, it may seem bad that you want to select a career choice based on salary; however, I think in almost all cases salary will factor in on a job decision. Whether we like it or not, money is a necessary thing. If you said it was the only factor in your decision, I'd agree it's a bad thing. Considering it as a factor, even an important factor, is pretty typical.

I don't know anyone who is a professional sociologist. I would guess that most sociologists are professors at universities - and probably make similar salaries to other university professors. The pay is probably not great, but probably not horrible either. As you point out, you don't even know yet what a career in sociology would actually be like. In fact, you may find that a lot of what you find interesting in sociology overlaps with the types of things you would need to know as a psychiatrist.

You seem to be taking a very well thought out approach of majoring in a field that interests you, and also taking the necessary pre-med courses in case you should decide that medical school is the route you want to take. As you take more college level sociology courses, you will have an opportunity to talk with professors who can give you more insight about what most people do who major in sociology and ultimately make a well-informed decision.

The bottom line is that you want to be working in a field that interests you - and most likely, you will wind up selecting the best job (factoring in not just salarly but also other life style factors) of those that seem interesting. It is always a good thing to have options and the best scenario is to have to pick from several different jobs any of which would be satisfactory.
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby Ketski » Thu Jan 15, 2009 8:06 pm

Regarding medical school, does it matter which one you go to?
By that I mean, do employers look at which medical school one goes to, and will the salary in general differ if one goes to a different medical school than another?
Which ones do you recommend, and why?
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby DrDave » Thu Jan 15, 2009 8:40 pm

Ketski wrote:Regarding medical school, does it matter which one you go to?
By that I mean, do employers look at which medical school one goes to, and will the salary in general differ if one goes to a different medical school than another?
Which ones do you recommend, and why?


The medical school you attend definitely shapes you as a physician - as does the residency program you attend. It's not so much the employers you are looking at, but what do prospective residency programs think of the medical school you attended. In addition to getting a solid medical education (the most important criteria you should use for selecting a medical school), one goal of medical school is to get matched into the residency program you want. Match statistics can be a useful way to evaluate a medical school. For competitive programs, the better the reputation of the medical school, the better your chances are of getting accepted. There are competitive fields of medicine (like plastic surgery, orthopedic surgery, dermatology) and then there are competitive residency programs (pretty much any field at Harvard for example).

There are many decent medical schools where you will be competitive for more residency programs. There are a few medical schools that are lower tier and then there are a few medical schools that are upper tier. While it is usually a controversial list, a good indication of the highest regarded medical schools can be found at US News and World Reports.

When I was looking at medical schools, I was always curious to see the match lists of the recent graduates. You want to see which types of residencies the graduates pursued (were they more primary care fields or more specialty fields) and how high on their match lists did they match (top choice, top 3 choices, unmatched, etc).
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby Ketski » Thu Jan 15, 2009 10:38 pm

Thanks for responding. I've looked at that list several times before and I have a few questions.

1. As an inspiring psychiatrist, should I pay more attention to the Primary Care Score or Research Score or both?
2. Would it be a good idea to attend the university of the medical school I'm trying to attend? (higher chance of medical schools accepting their own university students?)
3. And I've found this site that ranks psychiatric programs by how much research money they've been funded. Would this be an good indication on how well these programs compare with other programs?
http://www.residentphysician.com/Psychi ... nkings.htm

And for those who need it, there is a list of programs by the "Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical School" here:
http://www.acgme.org/adspublic/reports/ ... cialty.asp
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby DrDave » Thu Jan 15, 2009 11:11 pm

Ketski wrote:Thanks for responding. I've looked at that list several times before and I have a few questions.

1. As an inspiring psychiatrist, should I pay more attention to the Primary Care Score or Research Score or both?
2. Would it be a good idea to attend the university of the medical school I'm trying to attend? (higher chance of medical schools accepting their own university students?)
3. And I've found this site that ranks psychiatric programs by how much research money they've been funded. Would this be an good indication on how well these programs compare with other programs?
http://www.residentphysician.com/Psychi ... nkings.htm

And for those who need it, there is a list of programs by the "Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical School" here:
http://www.acgme.org/adspublic/reports/ ... cialty.asp


1. Both can be factored in - and anyone can make a list based on different criteria - the list is just to give a general idea of name recognition within the medical field. Research Score is probably a better indication of rank within the academic community - primary care score gives a good idea of programs that tend to direct students in the direction of primary care.

2. I would not select a university based on the idea that you want to go to their medical school. Go the best undergrad university for you - and you'll get into the best medical school for you. I don't think a medical school would give preference over someone from their undergrad program over someone with better credentials from another school. Perhaps if you do research for someone in the medical school who is influential, you can get a bit of an advantage, but I'd say that is a HUGE exception to the rule of how people get into medical school.

3. I've actually never seen that list before - and I think that actually is a pretty decent list if you needed to come up with a list. Of course, there is more to getting a good education than just research dollars, but I do have to say that I don't see any rankings that seem particularly off from that list.
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby some random kid » Sat Mar 07, 2009 2:05 pm

wow, thanks a ton.
i'm a sophomore in high school adn i've always wanted to be a psychiatrist, so these links and stufff were really helpful!
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby Guest » Sat Mar 07, 2009 3:46 pm

I have a question. What math class would be more useful to take if I plan on becoming a psychologist-psychiatrist, Calculus or Statistics? I am still a junior in high school, but i havent yet decided which math class to take next yr. Which would be more useful if I plan on majoring in psychology in college?
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby DrDave » Mon Mar 09, 2009 7:13 pm

Guest wrote:I have a question. What math class would be more useful to take if I plan on becoming a psychologist-psychiatrist, Calculus or Statistics? I am still a junior in high school, but i havent yet decided which math class to take next yr. Which would be more useful if I plan on majoring in psychology in college?


You really don't need calculus in the practice of either psychology or psychiatry. There are only a few medical schools that require calculus before starting medical school. Many kids going to college to be pre-med take Calculus their senior year of high school as they are in the advanced track in high school. It is certainly not required though.

Statistics class is likely something you'd take as part of a psychology program and while it is useful to know, you really don't need to take it before college / graduate school.

So basically take whatever will help you get into the best college. I'd say most likely calculus will look better, as long as you get a decent grade.
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby bones_inyourpoop » Sun May 03, 2009 3:12 pm

Hi, im currently a freshman in high school. I believe i have a gift that would really help in being a psychiatrist. I want to do my best and become a psychiatrist but i dont know how. Im truly very very lazy and dont do well in my classes. How do i motivate myself to pass with good grades, go to college, then medical school, etc.??? Also, are there any specific classes i can take??? Dont get me wrong, Im in GT classes but i get lazy VERY often and dont work to my potential "as i've been told wayyyy tooo many times" :roll:
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby DrDave » Mon May 04, 2009 12:24 am

Bones,

There are many reasons people don't do as well in classes as they should. I think you first need to sort out why you don't do well in school. Why is it that you are "lazy"? Is it because you are depressed? Is it because you are bored with the material? Is it because the material is too hard? I think your goal now should be to do as well as you possibly can in your high school classes. If you ultimately want to go to medical school, you will need to take your classes seriously and get good grades.
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby acceber » Sat May 09, 2009 11:46 pm

Wow after reading the academic criteria to be a psychiatrist I don't think I want to become one anymore. It sounds so stressful & I'm afraid I will get a mental breakdown. I'm a 16 year old Junior College student in Singapore and I actually wanted to study medicine to be a psychiatrist. However, medical school is really competitive in my country & I don't want to "kill" myself trying to get in.
I want to focus on therapy so I'm thinking of becoming a psychologist instead. But my main concern is whether I can prescribe medication as a psychologist to complement therapy. I believe therapy works best with medication for many cases. I think both prescribing medication & therapy are extremely crucial & I want to be able to do them both. What should I do? Should I get a degree in psychology and get a medical degree afterwards (will it take too long?) or work extremely hard to get into medical school?
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby DrDave » Wed May 13, 2009 10:23 pm

Acceber,

Medical school is very competitive in the US as well. Many people get very stressed before, during, and after medical school, so you aren't the first to think it sounds overwhelming.

Having said that, medical school can be a very rewarding path, and it is a necessary step to becoming a psychiatrist. In a few states in the US, they have started to allow psychologists to prescribe medications. Those psychologists need to have special training. I know New Mexico was the first state to allow this, with the main goal being to increase access to medication treatment of mental illness in areas where there aren't enough psychiatrists. I personally haven't followed the outcomes of psychologist prescribing, although I am curious how it is going. Most states still do not allow psychologists to prescribe.

I definitely wouldn't go into psychology with the expectation that you will be able to prescribe medications with additional training. Yes - you could go to medical school after getting your graduate degree in psychology, but I would definitely not recommend that route. There are many reasons, least of which is that much of what you will learn in your psychology program would also be learned in a psychiatry residency and be redundant. It will add years to your training with the benefits not being worth the time (in my opinion). I also think it would be harder to be motivated to complete medical school knowing you already have a professional degree that would keep you gainfully employed.

Most psychologists work in collaboration with a psychiatrist. Often a psychologist will ask a psychiatrist to evaluate someone whom they feel might benefit from medications. Additionally, most psychiatrists refer patients to psychologists for therapy. Just because you can't personally prescribe medications doesn't mean you can treat the patients. The psychologist deals with the therapy side and the psychiatrist manages the medications.

If you are really set on doing both medication management and provide therapy yourself, then you should do your best to get into medical school.
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby Bryanna » Thu May 28, 2009 4:34 am

I am a Jr. in high school trying to research careers. I flunked my first 2 years of HS due to anxiety(causing absences). I transfered to an independant study program at a local adult/alternative school where I'm now on the fast track to early graduation. I cannot afford to go straight to a Uni so will be going to a community college for the first 2 years. Originally I wanted to look into becomming a psychologist. But knowing me, I want to know what is 1 step further, just to be sure. My history with science in my early HS/middle school years was bad. I cannot tell if this was because of the absences or not, because I did well in my independant study Bio class. I probably won't know till I take whatever science class is assigned my first college years. ANYWAY in your opinion, what are the chances that someone with my odd background and minimum(like, none at all) science experience can succeed in the schooling it takes to become a psychiatrist?

People always tell me I'm intelligent and I reply that I'm common sense smart, not book smart.
I would just try and pursue psychology but it feels like I'm just "settling"
I know I'm a little early at deciding what I want to do but I need to know the paths to different careers, I don't like just jumping blindly into things.
Whatever I decide to do, I want to focus on children, because I sure could have used a good therapist a few years ago. I feel like I could really relate to alot of people.

Sorry for my rambling :P
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby DrDave » Sun Jun 07, 2009 10:31 pm

Bryanna,

I think you are right to think that your background is a unique path to lead to being a doctor, although I don't see that your experience in and of itself is limiting your options. I think you are also correct in your thinking that taking college level pre-med science classes will be a good test to see if being a doctor is a reasonable choice for you. If you can do well in pre-med level science courses, then your high school experience shouldn't be a major issue to your getting into medical school. In fact, I think your experience in overcoming challenges will be a big asset to you as either a psychologist or psychiatrist, and an admission's board should view it that way as well.
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby msc » Thu Jun 11, 2009 1:09 pm

Hi. I am contemplating becoming a psychiatrist as a second career. I am interested in finding out how I should go about taking the necessary classes to apply to med school. I have always been interested in the field of psychiatry but was discouraged from pursuing it when I was in college. I caved a bit too easily and majored in Finance instead (something I was told was a bit more practical). I am hoping it's not too late for me to pursue this even though I didn't take any of the necessary science classes in college. I am just at a loss as to whether there are college programs what I can apply to in order to take these fundamental science classes.

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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby DrDave » Sat Jun 13, 2009 9:38 am

msc,

I know a few people who were in the finance field prior to going to medical school. The people I know took classes at a local university in the evenings while they were still working. They were able to take pre-med level science classes. They then took the MCAT and applied to medical school. I would suggest you contact a local university to see if they offer the coursework you would need to go to medical school. It is a big investment of time and money, but the people I know seem very happy (once they were finally done with training). Just keep in mind that medical school is very challenging even for students who go straight through from college (academically, emotionally, and financially). It is probably even more challenging for those who have taken time off before going back. It can be done, and many people do it, but it is not an easy road.
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby LCB » Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:22 am

Hi, I have a similar predicament as the one mentioned earlier. I can't decide which math classes(s) to take next year. I'm currently in Pre-Cal and my choices are: College Algebra, Calculus AB or BC, and AP Statistics. I want to avoid Calculus because math is not my best subject but I want to be sure that if I'm planning to do something along the lines of becoming a psychiatrist, I for sure won't need to take the class later because if I have to take it some time, I'll take it next year. Also, I want to take AP Stat because I know I need that class but the Stat teacher at my school isn't that great at all. Should I wait to take that class until college or just deal with it next year. I'm pretty sure I will take College Algebra though. What should I do?
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby DrDave » Sat Jan 30, 2010 12:43 pm

Most medical schools do not require calculus, but a few do. You may want to check with a few medical schools that you'd consider (like your top state school and maybe one or two private schools) and see if those particular schools require calculus. Assuming you don't need calculus, what you take in high school probably doesn't matter too much. You usually need to take 1 year of college level math though.

Here is a nice list of medical schools with math requirements. If a medical school is not listed, it is because they don't have a math requirement. Of those listed, almost all require a year of college level math and many recommend calculus (but it isn't required). A few do require 1 semester of calculus and a few require 1 year of calculus. A few require statistics and a few recommend statistics.
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Re: How to become a Psychiatrist

Postby McBride4 » Mon Jun 28, 2010 11:17 pm

I'm currently a college student, taking courses to prepare for getting a degree in Psychiatry. I have a few questions about reaching that final "Goal".

I thought the most logical thing to do is take the pre-med classes and getting a bachelors in Psychology, but I saw in one of your previous responses that that isn't a route you would recommend. Should I change my course, and major in something else?

Also, do you know how moving to London would affect becoming a Psychiatrist? Or are all of the requirements going to be the same over there? and will the final outcome be the same (income, job availability, etc.)?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks,
Glenn McBride
(Sorry, I posted this initially in the wrong place)
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