Medical Psychology Programs: Degree and Certificate Overviews

Medical psychology is rarely, if ever, taught at the degree or certificate level. Programs are more widely available as post-doctoral fellowships where students engage in research in the field and attend seminars.

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Essential Information

Qualified psychologists interested in helping patients cope with the mental and emotional challenges of recovering from a physical condition are the best candidates for the post-doctoral program.

Fellowships emphasize research that applies concepts from clinical psychology, behavioral medicine and psychopharmacology to clinical health care. Some schools further divide their programs into clinical child psychology, health psychology and neuropsychology sub-specialties. Unlike a traditional degree program, a fellowship doesn't have typical coursework. Students attend seminars or lectures on relevant topics. A fellowship can be completed in two years, and graduates may be qualified for board certification in medical psychology.

Applicants to a fellowship program need to have earned a clinical psychology doctorate and completed an internship in clinical psychology. Schools are likely to give preference to those finishing at or near the top of their class.


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Post- Doctoral Fellowship in Medical Psychology

Medical psychology programs are often research-focused, and students should expect research to be a large part of their participation.

The academic portion of a fellowship program is conducted through seminars, lectures and conferences. These courses often emphasize the influence of psychology in the medical field, as well as in daily interactions between medical staff and patients. Possible seminar and lecture topics might include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Addiction
  • Sleep disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Geriatric psychology
  • Psycho-oncology

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Clinical psychologists who complete a fellowship in medical psychology are prepared to establish a new practice in their specialty or incorporate the specialty into an existing practice. They may also teach at the postsecondary level or engage in further research. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) predicts 20% growth in employment of clinical, school and counseling psychologists from 2014-2024. These workers made annual median wages of $70,580 in 2015.

Continuing Education Information

Certification in medical psychology is available from the American Board of Medical Psychology and the Academy of Medical Psychology. Practitioners who complete a clinically-based doctorate in psychology and a fellowship in medical psychology are eligible. Obtaining certification requires passage of an oral examination, passage of written exams in psychopharmacology and medical psychology and submission of documentation establishing the candidate's clinical skills.

Highly specialized programs, fellowships in medical psychology are aimed at licensed psychologists looking to help patients recovering from a physical condition. Lectures and seminars are the focus of these programs, rather than traditional coursework.

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