Qualifications Needed to Become a Psychiatrist

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor trained to treat mental disorders from a medical as well as therapeutic standpoint. To become a psychiatrist, you must successfully complete extensive medical training and licensing exams. From start to finish, the education and residency process can take over 10 years to complete.

Undergraduate Degree Program

An undergraduate degree is a necessary qualification if you want to become a psychiatrist. You may choose to earn a degree in psychology though it isn't explicitly necessary. According to Education Portal's website, your major should have at least one year of general coursework and lab work in the following subjects: general chemistry, organic chemistry, general physics and biology. Pursuing an undergraduate degree in the sciences will help you complete these classes.

Medical School

Since a psychiatrist is a medical doctor, you must successfully complete medical school as a qualification. Medical school takes about four years to complete. Your coursework will involve the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders, creation and implementation of treatment plans and the prescribing of medications to treat psychiatric disorders.

Medical Residency Requirements

After you finish medical school, you must enter a postgraduate medical residency program with a hospital, medical university attached to a hospital or other treatment centre. Successful completion takes between three and four years. Residency rotations are highly specialised in areas of internal medicine, emergency psychiatry and neurology. This training also prepares you to take your final psychiatric licensing exams. Upon successful completion of the licensing exams administered by the American Board of Psychiatry, you're officially a psychiatrist.

Licensure Qualifications

You need to obtain a physician's license from the state in which you are planning to practice psychiatry. Because you can prescribe medication, you have to have a federal narcotics license and a registration number from the Drug Enforcement Administration. Each state may also impose additional licensure qualifications for a psychiatrist, so it's important to check with the state medical board where you're planning to practice before you set up shop.

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About the Author

Jonathan Lister has been a writer and content marketer since 2003. His latest book publication, "Bullet, a Demos City Novel" is forthcoming from J Taylor Publishing in June 2014. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Shippensburg University and a Master of Fine Arts in writing and poetics from Naropa University.

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