Knowing how to become a psychiatrist, as well as what a psychiatrist does, is the first step toward making a decision to become one. A prospective psychiatrist must know what the job of a psychiatrist entails, what schooling and licensing is needed, as well as job prospects and potential income. Armed with this information, a student can make an informed choice, such as becoming a psychiatrist vs psychologist.
Job Description: What is a Psychiatrist?
Before we delve into the topic of how to become a psychiatrist, it’s important to know what a psychiatrist is. Psychiatry is an area of medicine that deals primarily with the mental health of patients. A psychiatrist is able to prescribe medications as necessary to patients, as well as talk to patients about their problems. While many people seek the help of a counselor to talk through their issues, a counselor cannot help with medications and doesn’t have the amount of training a psychiatrist does. Therefore, those who are dealing with mental illness issues would do best seeing a psychiatrist rather than a general counselor. A psychiatrist will work with each patient to administer psychotherapy, including delving into the patient’s past, giving advice on how to handle issues and sometimes even conducting group or family therapy sessions. If necessary, a psychiatrist will prescribe medications to help the patient. Even if a patient regularly sees a counselor or psychologist, a psychiatrist may be necessary for medication management purposes.
When choosing a mental health doctor, it is important to understand the difference of psychiatrist vs psychologist. Both types of doctors deal with many of the same issues in similar manners. However, there are some distinct differences. The education is one of the biggest differences. Psychiatrists are considered to be doctors and thus must go to medical school, while psychologists must only complete regular college courses through a typical graduate school. Psychiatrists must also complete a residency like other types of doctors. Psychiatrists are also the only ones who can prescribe medications, especially narcotics, to patients. Psychologists often use personality testing and other types of testing to make evaluations. In terms of fees, psychiatrists often charge more for their services, but they do offer more services in many situations. To choose which one is best, a patient must evaluate his needs and potentially talk to his regular doctor or a therapist to gauge what he needs for treatment.
Psychiatrists work in many different environments. Many of them operate their own practices or work in practice with a group of psychiatrists. However, psychiatrists can be found in other health institutions as well. Some psychiatrists work in a hospital setting, including regular hospitals and special mental health hospitals. Some psychiatric doctors even work for the government or through law enforcement to help with profiling and other legal issues. Nursing homes and other residential care facilities are also known to hire psychiatrists to complete the medical staff available to patients and their families for the most well-rounded care available.
How to Become a Psychiatrist: Education & Licensing Requirements
Psychiatrist: Education Requirements
The path to becoming a psychiatrist is much the same as that toward becoming a regular medical doctor. A person who wants to become a psychiatrist must first attend an undergraduate college and take courses that qualify for the pre-med major at that particular college. These classes will lead the student along the path to medical school. Classes often focus on biology, math, chemistry and physics. After graduating from a four-year college, the student must then apply to and attend a medical college. Courses in a medical college typically take at least four years to complete. A student who hopes to become a psychiatrist will take many of the same classes as those who want to become other types of doctors, such as anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology and medical ethics. During the last two years of medical school, students will change their focus to psychiatry. When choosing to become a psychiatrist, a student must also consider potential sub-specialties, such as a pediatric psychiatrist or a forensic psychiatrist, to best tailor his schooling. After medical college, a psychiatry graduate must complete several years of residency before practicing on his own.
Psychiatrist: Licensing Requirements
The licensing requirements to become a psychiatrist is much the same as other types of doctors. A psychiatrist needs to check into the state medical licensing requirements in the state in which he would like to work. Each state has its own licensing regulations and processes. To practice in a different state later, a psychiatrist must follow the new state’s guidelines. A psychiatrist must also apply for a license with the Drug Enforcement Administration for a Federal Narcotics License. This is required to prescribe narcotics to patients because these types of drugs must be closely monitored for abuse. This license must be renewed periodically. Some states also require a state narcotics license. If a doctor wishes to serve patients who have medicare or medicaid insurance, he must also apply for a provider number with the government. Psychiatrists who want to work in specific fields, such as a pediatric psychiatrist or forensic psychiatrist, would need to take a board certification exam to become certified in these areas.
Psychiatrist Salary: How much does a Psychiatrist make?
The salary of a psychiatrist is higher than many of the other areas of mental health. As a recent graduate, a student can expect to start working in the range of $45,000 and $175,000, according to howdb.org. Pay also depends on the location in which a psychiatrist will work. Larger cities often pay more than small cities. Pay can also vary greatly by state. After working in the field for 5 years, a psychiatrist can expect a salary in the range of $83,000 to $226,500. At 10 years, the range goes up to $99,000 to 225,000. Those who work in the field for more than 20 years find pay falling in the range of $99,000 to $237,000. The exact rate will depend greatly on the type of practice, as well as the location in which the psychiatrist practices. For instance, the median salary for psychiatrists in California is about $179,000, while the media salary in Vermont is $118,000.
The area of psychiatry in which a psychiatrist works will also weigh in on the salary potential. For instance, those who work in a doctor’s office make a median salary of about $159,000; a psychiatrist that works in a mental hospitalcan expect to earn a median wage of about $166,000. Some of the top earning positions for a psychiatrist include nursing care facilities with a median salary of about $190,000, state government positions with a median salary of about $196,000 and outpatient care facilities with a median salary of about $188,000.
Psychiatrist Jobs: Job Outlook and Prospects
Because psychiatry is a constant need without many other options, the field has remained steady and is projected to remain so in the future. According to the Department of Labor Statistics, job growth for all areas of medicine are projected to grow steadily at a rate of about 22 percent. However, this statistic covers all areas of medicine. Psychiatrists make up about 5 percent of the medical field. This field is in high demand, however, as about 26 percent of the adult population requires the services of a psychiatrist each year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Around 6 percent of Americans suffer from severe mental illness. The greatest need in the psychiatry field falls to themental health and substance abuse hospitals, which accounts for nearly 2 percent of all psychiatrists. Government jobs are the most rare, with less than 1/2 percent of all psychiatrists working in this area. Private practice accounts for the greatest percentage. For private practice, though, pay varies greatly depending on location and the amount a psychiatrist charges for services versus the cost of operating an office.
Some areas of psychiatry, especially pediatric psychology, have a greater need for workers. The country suffers from a shortage of pediatric psychiatrists, making it difficult for parents of children with mental issues to find help for their children. This also makes the waiting period for child psychiatrists long. If a potential psychiatrist is looking for a field that has plenty of options, this particular area is a good option. Forensic psychiatry is another field that is in great need. These psychiatrists work alongside law enforcement officials and lawyers to handle cases involving mentally disturbed individuals. A student going to school for psychiatry who also has an interest in the field of law may want to consider becoming a forensic psychiatrist. This choice would provide a psychiatrist with the ability to work in both fields at the same time and satisfy both interests.
When making a decision to go into the field of psychiatry, a student must consider the various areas of the field available, as well as job availability and salary in the area in which he wants to work. In general, the field of psychiatry is a growing field that continues to show steady growth over the years. Psychiatrists are needed to treat mental illnesses in ways that other related fields can’t, and that is why it is incredibly valuable to find out how to become a psychiatrist.