How long does it take to become a psychiatrist? It’s a great question to ask if you’re thinking of pursuing a career in the field of psychiatry. After all, who wouldn’t be the slightest bit interested in how long it would take to finally achieve their career goals.
Yes, becoming a practicing psychiatrist is a time-consuming affair, but if you have a genuine love for helping people it just might be worth the decade or so of time you’d have to put into it. The reason it takes that long to accomplish is because the career requires a distinct set of qualifications.
Not only do you have to earn a bachelor’s degree, but you also have to earn a medical degree as well, followed by the completion of a residency program. And as you can imagine this is no easy journey. The average bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete. You’d probably want to pursue a degree in psychology although it is not a requirement, but it will be to your advantage. You’ll then spend the next four years completing a medical degree program.
During this period you’ll spend the first half of the program studying the sciences and expanding your knowledge of the practice of medicine. The second half of the program will focus on clinical rotations. You’ll spend most of your time following and learning from licensed practitioners from various fields of medicine. This is absolutely necessary because as a psychiatrist you’ll be treating patients based on a medical standpoint.
What Will You Do?
You’ll prescribe medication to counteract the biochemical cause of the disorders, but in order to prescribe medication, you’ll need to be a doctor thus the need to attend medical school. But after medical school, you’ll also need to receive further training under a psychiatry residency program. This residency program usually takes about four years to complete. During this time you’ll receive training under various fields of psychiatry such as child psychology, geriatric psychology, crisis intervention, and both inpatient and outpatient care.
You may, however, choose to specialize in one field of psychiatry such as geriatric psychiatry or addiction psychiatry. But let’s not forget two crucial steps: attaining your medical license and certification. After completing medical school you can apply for your medical license, which will allow you to practice medicine anywhere in the U.S. It will also allow you to start your own practice.
You must take and pass either the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination for MD graduates or the Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination for DO graduates. Next, you must take and pass an exam set by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology to receive your certification. So ideally it should take about twelve years to become a fully realized psychiatrist. That’s minus the time it will take you to obtain both your medical license and certification, which will vary from person to person.
Twelve years is a lot of time to spend pursuing a career. Many things can change over the course of twelve years. For instance, your interest may change or you may find that you dread the experience. Therefore it is best to only pursue this career if you love helping people solve their problems and are fully committed to the path.