How to Become a Psychiatrist: Training, Licensing and Certification Requirements

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A psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in mental health care.In order to become a psychiatrist, you must complete all of the requirements to become a medical doctor from an accredited school of medicine. After you have obtained you M.D. degree, you will need to complete a 4-year residency program with at least three of these years spent specifically in the practice of psychiatry.

After completing your residency, you must then pass an oral and written examination. The written exam goes on for a full day and includes basic science, clinical psychiatry and specialty areas within psychiatry. The oral segment of the exam is designed to evaluate students’ skills in real settings. This is done through actual observation of an examination.

Upon completion of the exam, you are then eligible to apply for board certification. This certification is granted through the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Once you have obtained board certification, you are legally allowed to practice anywhere in the United States. However, this certification must be renewed every ten years.

As a certified psychiatrist, you may be in practice for yourself or in partnership with other psychologists or physicians. Additionally, you could also be employed by government entities such as a state or county mental health department or a correctional system. Although psychiatrists may also find employment in hospitals, this is not so common.

How long does it take to become a psychiatrist?

Typically, it takes about 8 years of post-undergraduate study to become a board-certified psychiatrist – 4 years to complete your M.D. degree plus another 4 years of residency.

So, if you include the time it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree, you are looking at spending at least 12 years in school and training to become a psychiatrist. If you are interested in becoming certified in a sub-specialty area, you may have to complete a fellowship that could take an additional one to two years of post-residency work.

Psychiatrist Salary

The average annual salary for a psychiatrist in the US is $163,660. Those who were employed in the offices of physicians had an average salary of $154,650 per year. Those employed in outpatient care centers made an average of $190,340 per year.

Psychiatry sub-specialization options

In addition to general psychiatry, you may choose from several sub-specializations including child and adolescent psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry and addiction medicine.

Job outlook for psychiatrists

Several reports describe psychiatry as a specialty in which there is a persistent shortage, indicating a need for more psychiatrists in the future. The demand for psychiatrists is expected to grow at a rate faster than the average through the year 2016, with the greatest demand for geriatric and child psychiatrists.

If you are interested in this field you should know there is very stiff competition and maintaining top grades is crucial in order to get into medical school.

 

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