The only way to begin a career in psychiatry is to first complete an undergraduate degree, then four years of medical school followed by a residency focused on psychiatry. Residency programs can take between three and five years, but most usually take four years, pay a regular salary and allow students to get hands-on training in the field. Experienced psychiatrists sometimes teach or conduct research at universities.
Applicants to psychiatry residency programs must hold a Doctor of Medicine degree. They may also need to submit letters of recommendation, personal statements, dean's letters, transcripts and Medical Student Performance Evaluations. Beyond that, admissions committees commonly note a preference for various non-academic skills, like a passion for the field, self-motivation and a penchant for learning outside of regular academic work. Some schools also require an interview.
Psychiatry Residency Program
Psychiatrists are physicians who diagnose and treat patients for various mental and emotional illnesses. To this end, they use psychoanalysis, psychotherapy and medication. Unless a patient is hospitalized, psychiatrists treat patients through a series of regular visits or group therapy sessions. Sometimes, mental disorders result from chemical imbalances, which are also treated by psychiatric professionals.
Residency programs typically include a combination of seminars and clinical rotations. Candidates often spend blocks of time (months) dedicated to different areas of the profession. Here are some areas you might practice while in a psychiatry residency:
- Inpatient psychiatry
- Outpatient psychiatry
- Community psychiatry
- Addiction psychiatry
- Child and adolescent psychiatry
- Emergency psychiatry
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Physicians and surgeons, which include, psychiatrists made a mean annual wage of $193,680 in 2015, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS projects jobs for psychiatrists will increase by about 15% between 2014 and 2024.
Licensing and Continuing Education
According to the BLS, all states require physicians to be licensed - though specific requirements vary by state. Common licensure requirements include completing an accredited medical school program and residency training in a specialty area as well as passing written and clinical exams.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) offers several education opportunities and certifications for psychiatrists. These certifications incorporate the most recent technology and practices in the field, keeping professionals of all levels up to date.
The path to become a psychiatrist is a lengthy one; after completing four years of medical school, psychiatrists must complete a residency program, which will include both seminars and clinical rotations. Luckily, the job growth rate for psychiatrists is promising, falling above the national average for other careers.