Only medical colleges and schools provide an education in psychiatry. Those looking to become psychiatrists must earn an undergraduate degree, complete medical school, and complete psychiatry residency prior to seeking a state license in order to practice.
Undergraduate Prerequisites for Those Majoring in Psychiatry
Before they can gain admission to medical school, students commonly have to complete prerequisite courses such as physics, mathematics, chemistry, and biology.
Some courses may require upper-level coursework in biochemistry and calculus. Psychology coursework may also be pursued by students to obtain a minor or major in the field, which is usually not required.
Students may prefer schools that offer concentrations in the field of psychology such as social, child, or developmental psychology, especially as schools commonly offer specialization areas as part of continuing education or psychiatry residencies.
Students seeking admission to medical school could gain an edge by opting for science-driven majors or pre-medical programs such as biology that include internships or research opportunities.
Choosing a Medical School
Students who seek high-level positions in academia and research may opt for medical schools that offer a combined MD and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Psychology program. Some program may not offer an emphasis in psychiatry until the actual commencement of the residency; however, students enrolled in some medical schools can choose to incorporate psychiatric study over the whole four-year duration.
Choosing a Residency
When a student researches residency programs, he or she may begin by using the Fellowship and Residency Electronic Interactive Database (FREIDA), whereby he or she may gain information about the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accredited programs.
Every residency program may not facilitate the meeting of specific career goals, owing to the variation in the specialization opportunities offered; hence, prospective students should contact the psychiatry departments of prospective schools, visit program websites, and speak specifically with advisors in order to help their cause.
Areas of Emphasis
Those seeking additional professional specialization may find it interesting to consider areas of emphasis such as a concentration in substance abuse, mood disorders, or sleep disorders.
Given that they are paid positions, residencies must be evaluated on the basis of the benefits, educational leave, vacation days, sick days, and salaries they entail.
Overview of Psychiatry Programs
Bachelor’s Program in Psychology
Students who aspire to pursue a career in psychiatry could benefit from earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology combined with the math and science prerequisites related to medical school admission. Students enrolled in undergraduate psychology programs are introduced to the fundamentals of psychology, in addition to the abnormal, developmental, social, and cognitive aspects of research methods and psychology. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:
Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) Programs
In medical school, extensive hands-on experience in clinical settings is combined with a scientific understanding of medicine, whereby students can apply their medical knowledge to real-life situations. MD programs commonly include research requirements and educational tracks found in research, in addition to patient care (also called clinical). Core coursework may include topic areas such as:
•Human growth and development
Once they complete medical school, students are required to complete a psychiatry residency. Residencies and post-residency continuing education would help students focus on even narrower areas of specialization with concentration areas in internal medicine or neurology.
It takes four to six years for students to complete residencies that cover various topic areas, including research methods, clinical practices, and outpatient and inpatient care. Coursework may cover other topic areas such as: