How To Become A Psychiatrist

Psychiatry is a speciality within the medical field; learn about how to become a psychiatrist and decide if it is the right career for you.

  1. Know the difference between psychology and psychiatry. Psychologists treat patients by counseling them and using other behavioral intervention techniques, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Psychiatrists also council patients, but they are Physicians who specialized in Psychiatry and they generally prescribe medication to treat mental disorders.
  2. You have to go to college. You have to obtain a four-year undergraduate degree. It doesn't matter what your degree is in, but you do need to have taken all of the requisite courses to be admitted to medical school. If you don't have all of the necessary classes, you can do a post-baccalaureate degree. There are schools that have specific pre-med post-baccalaureate programs.
  3. You have to take the MCAT. In order to be a psychiatrist, you have to go to Medical School and pass the MCAT admissions test. It is very unlikely that you will get a decent score on the MCAT if you have not taken the requisite science courses, such as biology, chemistry and organic chemistry.
  4. You have to go to Medical School. You must obtain your Doctor of Medicine degree (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree (D.O) to become a psychiatrist.
  5. You have to do a residency. A residency is essentially an internship, but you still get paid. Expect to spend an additional four years doing a combination of general medicine rotations, neurology rotations and rotations in various areas of psychiatry. When you complete those last four years (after college and medical school), you will then be eligible to be a psychiatrist.



Gask, L. (2004). "A Short Introduction to Psychiatry." London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

McGorry PD, Mihalopoulos C, Henry L et al. (1995) Spurious precision: procedural validity of diagnostic assessment in psychiatric disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry 152 (2) 220-223

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