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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

A Breakdown of What It Takes to Become a Psychiatrist

(Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash)

You will be hard-pressed to find a career more exciting than a psychiatrist, but it doesn’t come without its faults. For as rewarding a career as a psychiatrist can be, the chances of career burnout are much higher than in other fields. Despite this, millions of people slog through school every year in the hopes of becoming a psychiatrist.

Not everyone is built to pursue this career for various reasons. Still, if any factoid about the road to becoming a psychiatrist should discourage anyone, it’s that the average length of schooling is 12 years!

However, if you are curious about a breakdown of the timeline, then read on.

The First Four Years: Undergraduate
In other words, the first four years are college. Most students major in the sciences, such as psychology or biochemistry. Another popular major choice for hopeful future psychiatry students is premed. During your senior year, you will take the MCAT or the Medical College Admission Test. The MCAT is broken into four parts: Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, Chemical and Physical Foundations of Living Systems, Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior, and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills. Your MCAT score will strongly determine your admissions success. Of course, it’s essential to maintain high grades throughout your undergraduate career as well.

The Next Four Years: Medical School
If you thought undergrad was hard, then you’re in for a real treat in medical school. Medical school is four years long, and each year is quite different. In your first year, you learn about the various systems of the human body and how they all work. You will take histology (the study of cells), gross anatomy, biochemistry, and pathology. The first year is notorious for being the hardest; there is a lot of information to learn, and therefore a lot of memorization required. In your second year you learn about the different diseases of the body, as the second year is clinical-based. In the third year, you join the medical staff as the low guy on the totem pole and start your clinical rotations, or time working in a hospital. In your final year, you choose which specialty you would like to explore further, such as oncology, cardiology, neurology, etc.

The Final Four Years: Psychiatry Residency
Finally, the end is in sight. However, at this point, you’re not out of the woods just yet. During your residency, you will receive in-depth training that will prepare you for the impending start of your career as a psychiatrist. This time includes working closely with patients and attending didactics to share any new information they have learned recently. Mostly, these are the years you “practice” being a psychiatrist before pursuing it on your own.

If you have made it this far, chances are you are still interested in this career option. To see some psychiatry positions that are currently open in your area, head over to Some of the best healthcare professionals use to check out the job market and come a step closer to putting all that schooling to use!
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