Students must first earn a bachelor's degree and provide adequate MCAT scores. There is no master's degree program specifically dedicated to aspiring psychiatrists wishing to earn a Doctor of Medicine. These medical professionals will have opportunities to explore the specialty of psychiatry through focused clinical electives and clinical training in medical school. After that time, they can go on to complete an additional 3-4 years of training in a clinical psychiatry residency. In the initial 4-year medical school training, however, they learn how to manage medication for patients, handle inpatient/outpatient treatment and perform psychiatric assessments.
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Doctor of Medicine with a Specialization in Psychiatry
The first two years of any Doctor of Medicine program focus on science, human anatomy, pathology and similar subjects. During the second two years, aspiring psychiatrists can study professional ethics, psychotherapy and other topics related to mental health. They then apply those topics to actual patients during their clinical rotations at hospitals, medical facilities and mental institutions.
Some of the courses that might be found in a medical school program with a focus on psychiatry include:
- Psychosomatic medicine
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Psychiatrists can take several different focused career paths once they complete their medical school and residency requirements, such as forensic psychiatry, child psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry or psychiatry research. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates the mean annual wage for this profession, as of May 2015, to be $193,680. The BLS also projects that employment of psychiatrists will grow by 15%, faster than the average for all occupations, between 2014 and 2024.
Continuing Education and Certification
After completing an M.D. program, prospective psychiatrists must complete a clinical residency that focuses on psychiatry. Upon completion they may seek certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology to become board certified psychiatrists. The certification process includes both an oral and a written exam; practicing psychiatrists must renew their certification every 10 years.
A master's degree in psychiatry does not exist, so students will have to earn an M.D. instead and then specialize in psychiatry during clinical residency. Once students have completed all requirements, they can seek board certification to become board certified psychiatrists.