The Road To Psychiatry: A Timeline Of Education And Training

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01 February 2024

Job & Career

how long does it take to become a psychiatrist

Ever wondered about becoming a psychiatrist? We do get inquiries concerning mental health in general, as well as this subject, on a regular basis. We have graduates with psychiatry residency enrollments, current students pursuing careers in psychiatry, and alumni who are psychiatrists in the US and Canada inquiring about it. So, we have a good understanding of the process of becoming a psychiatrist.

In this article, you will learn how to become a psychiatrist and why a student should consider psychiatry as a career. Prospective students should think about both academic and non-academic items. Before we answer how long does it take to become a psychiatrist, let’s dive deeper into the world of psychiatrists.

Who Is A Psychiatrist?

Who Is A Psychiatrist

Psychiatrists are medical professionals with a board certification and license in mental health disorders. The medical specialty of psychiatry concerns the identification, management, and prevention of mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders. Anxiety, depression, personality disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, body dysmorphia disorder, eating disorders, and addiction are among the common psychological issues that psychiatrists treat.

To diagnose their patients’ disorders, psychiatrists also conduct psychological and laboratory testing. They make use of psychotherapy, prescription drugs, and a range of cutting-edge therapies like deep brain stimulation, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and electroconvulsive therapy.

Psychiatrists can find employment in hospital and clinical settings. They check patients’ medications and offer counseling in the clinic. Psychiatrists are hospital employees who work with hospitalized patients in a secure psychiatric unit or on the general medical floor.

What Do Psychiatrists Do?

What Do Psychiatrists Do?

A psychiatrist is a medical professional who assesses mental health disorders’ symptoms and potential causes. In order to aid in the diagnosis process, this may entail obtaining medical histories, requesting blood tests, and assessing symptoms. A psychiatrist may suggest prescription medication, light therapy, counseling, diet and lifestyle management, and electroshock therapy as treatments after a medical diagnosis. Psychiatrists frequently refer and co-manage patients with psychologists. Among the common mental illnesses that psychiatrists identify and treat in their patients are:

Chronic schizophrenia is a mental illness marked by delusions, disordered speech, strange behavior, diminished involvement in day-to-day activities, and difficulty concentrating.

Sleeping disorders comprise insomnia and other conditions marked by frequent nighttime awakenings, poor sleep quality, insufficient sleep, and difficulty falling asleep.

Depression is a chronic illness marked by a decrease in motivation, lack of interest in routine activities, changes in appetite, depressive feelings, low self-esteem, and a lack of social interaction.

Anxiety disorder is a mental illness that can cause excessive worry, agitation, panic attacks, and anxiety levels that interfere with day-to-day functioning.

Mood swings associated with bipolar disorder include a manic phase marked by high energy and detachment from reality and a depressive phase marked by low energy and disinterest in day-to-day activities.

Chronic attention disorders, such as ADHD and ADD, are characterized by impulsivity, hyperactivity, and trouble focusing and paying attention.

Eating disorders are an unhealthy relationship with food. It could be a distorted body image and obsessive thoughts about weight or calorie intake. These are hallmarks of eating disorders, such as bulimia and anorexia.

Psychosis is a mental illness marked by a detachment from reality. It often has associations with hallucination disorders. Hallucinations, agitation, incoherence, animosity, and not realizing their strange behavior are possible additional symptoms.

Addiction disorders are psychological conditions marked by obsessive behavior, even in the face of unfavorable results or repercussions, like substance abuse.

Difference Between Psychiatrist And Psychologist

Difference Between Psychiatrist And Psychologist

Psychologists’ and psychiatrists’ training backgrounds are primarily different. A psychologist did not attend medical school. Instead, they hold a PhD or PsyD degree in psychology and have clinical psychology training. Psychiatrists are physicians with licenses who have completed medical school and received their MD or DO degrees.

Psychologists cannot practice medicine, prescribe drugs, or carry out medical procedures. Psychiatrists have permission because of their educational background and training. In addition to spending time counseling patients and practicing cognitive psychology, both providers assist in the care of patients with mental health disorders.

Psychologists and psychiatrists are mental health practitioners who have received training in understanding mental health disorders, their diagnostic criteria, and various treatment modalities.

A clinic or hospital might also employ both. Psychologists, who are more frequently thought of as counselors, treat conditions using psychotherapy or talk therapy, while psychiatrists may prescribe medications to treat mental health disorders. Psychologists and psychiatrists frequently collaborate to serve patients better.

For instance, psychiatrists may see a patient for the first time, make a diagnosis, and recommend medicine. After that, the psychiatrist might suggest talking therapy for the patient with a psychologist. Patients frequently gain the most from visiting both kinds of providers. Psychologists and psychiatrists are occasionally referred to as counselors or even therapists. This is not to be confused with individuals who have received social work training.

How To Become A Psychiatrist?

How To Become A Psychiatrist?

Becoming a psychiatrist requires 12 years of education on average after high school. This comprises four years of college, four years of medical school, and four years of a residency program in psychiatry. After completing their training, many psychiatrists decide to attend a fellowship in one of the nine popular subspecialties in order to continue their education. Fellowships typically last one year. See the section below to learn more about psychiatrists’ training for subspecialties.

Do Psychiatrists Attend Medical School?

Do Psychiatrists Attend Medical School?

It is true that psychiatrists attend medical schools. To elaborate, a prospective student who wishes to become a psychiatrist must first finish undergraduate studies and high school (or a GED), then apply to medical schools. Most four-year medical school programs follow graduation from an Osteopathic medical school (DO degree) or an Allopathic medical school (MD degree). Medical students must earn the necessary credentials to obtain a license and become fully board-certified. This requires them to complete a general psychiatry residency successfully.

Is Psychiatry A Good Career?

Is Psychiatry A Good Career?

Psychiatry is a great profession that does not necessitate a Ph.D. Being a psychiatrist is a long career path, but many people think the effort is well worth it. Psychiatrists are typically able to work closely with patients for extended periods of time. Moreover, psychiatrists are capable of treating and diagnosing patients.

The job is highly rewarding because it allows one to directly impact a patient’s life and mental health. They can also observe clinical improvement in patients. Psychiatry also offers a great lifestyle with less time spent on call and Monday through Friday working hours. It sets it apart from most other medical careers.

Psychiatrists can work in a variety of settings, such as outpatient clinics and hospitals, treating inpatient patients with mental health issues. Psychiatrists see hospitalized patients in order to diagnose illnesses or disorders. They initiate new prescriptions, adjust existing ones, order and interpret lab tests, and provide patient counseling.

Psychiatrists also perform many of the same tasks in the context of an outpatient clinic. However, counseling and medication management take up the majority of a patient’s visit time in an outpatient setting.

Wrapping Up

For most psychiatrists, becoming a practicing psychiatrist requires 12 years of training. A bachelor’s degree normally takes four years to complete, as does medical school. It takes an additional four years to finish a psychiatry residency and become certified by the psychiatric board. Additional training, specialization, and other variables may extend this period of study by several years.

If you want to know the difference between a therapist vs psychiatrist, we have shared a detailed study of it. Share your thoughts or questions on how long does it take to become a psychiatrist. Comment below, we would love to hear from you!

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Sarmind is a Writer and an aspiring Editor who has experience in various short and long-form niches. Her academic pursuits intensely mold her industry background in content creation. She holds a Master's degree in Literature, and when not writing for professional purposes, she can be found re-reading old classics of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters. She is super fond of cats and enjoys hours of doom-scrolling through memes on social media while cuddled up with a cup of desi chai. She likes to think she is an intellectual badass (colloquial: nerdy bore), and now all she needs is a sewing kit to complete the look!

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