Should You Become a Psychiatrist?

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An increasing number of college students are becoming interested in the field of psychiatry due to high demand for mental health services. A psychiatrist is a trained medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating emotional, behavioral, and mental disorders. Unlikely a psychologist or social worker, a psychiatrist is able to write prescriptions  for helpful medication that can help clients to manage their issues. Psychiatrist often work as part of a multi-disciplinary team that consists of occupational therapists, social workers, clinical psychologists, and nurses. If you are interested in entering the field of psychiatry, check below for a few things you should keep in mind. 

What You Need to Enter the Field

Entering the field of psychiatry requires a commitment to education. You’ll start by getting your bachelor’s degree, and you’ll likely need to attend in-person classes to do so. You might pick a major such as a physical science, psychology, or pre-med courses. Expect to take additional courses that focus on ethics, life science, and developmental psychology. Regardless of your degree path, you’ll need to think about how you’ll pay for your degree.

As earning a college degree is challenging, you’ll likely want to avoid working while in school. Applying for a private student loan to cover the cost of college can help you to focus on your studies without financial distractions. You need to ensure that you build up an outstanding undergraduate record as you earn your first degree. This will help you to get into an accredited medical school once your undergraduate education is complete. After four years or more in medical school, you can enter a residency program to gain clinical experience.

What You Can Do As a Psychiatrist

As a psychiatrist, you can make a difference in your patients’ lives by treating issues such as depression, panic attacks, and substance abuse disorders. If helping others is your passion, the work can be satisfying. You’ll have many chances for self-employment and the option to open your own practice in the future. When you have your own practice, you’ll have more freedom and flexibility. 

Although the job market for many professions has been disrupted by the covid-19 pandemic, the need for mental health professionals continues to grow. As a psychiatrist, you’ll likely enjoy job stability throughout your career, and you’ll also have high earning potential. Another benefit is that you can work in many settings, including government agencies, public clinics, and your private practice.

Picking a Specialization

The field of psychiatry has many subspecialties or fellowships. A few common subspecialties include:

  • Geriatric psychiatry
  • Child and adolescent psychiatry
  • Sleep medicine
  • Addiction psychiatry
  • Forensic psychiatry
  • Brain injury medicine
  • Clinical neurophysiology

Focusing on the subspecialty of child and adolescent psychiatry means that you will primarily treat and diagnose disorders in teenagers and children. This particular subspecialty requires advanced knowledge in developmental disorders and learning disabilities such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Forensic psychiatry is another popular subspecialty within the field. It involves treating mental health issues among people in high security hospitals, prisons, or other correctional facilities. Forensic psychiatrists often work with victims and perpetrators of crimes and they may even be required to testify about an individual’s mental health at a trial. Building a successful career in this subspecialty requires a passion for justice.

Some psychiatrists choose traditional paths and decide to work in a mental health or hospital setting. But if you have a strong interest in research you may choose to work with organizations that conduct research on specific topics such as employees’ mental health. You could also conduct your own research at a research university.