The educational qualifications for becoming a psychiatrist can be a bit overwhelming, remember - a psychiatrist is a full-fledged physician with a focus on psychiatrics. You education will begin with a bachelors degree. Many students choose a bachelors in psychology, but sociology, health science, biology, chemistry, or anatomy and physiology can also be a good choice. Your undergraduate studies will focus on mathematics, chemistry, biology, physics, and English. During your junior year, you will take the Medical College Assessment Test (MCAT), which will assess your readiness for medical school. Based on your academic performance and MCAT results, you can move on to four years of medical school. Your first two years will be spent in the classroom and laboratory, concentrating on biology, anatomy, pathology, psychology, neuroscience, physiology, pharmacology, and medical ethics. The last two years will involve a series of rotations working under the supervision of health care professionals. After medical school, you will begin your residency. Once that's all done, you'll be qualified for state licensure and certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN).
Much of your time as a psychiatrist will be spent listening to and speaking with patients, so good communication skills are essential. You will also need to be a skilled and patient observer. Subtle changes in facial expressions, body positions, and actions may speak louder than anything a patient may express vocally. In order to effectively research and treat mental and behavioral issues, a psychiatrist must have a highly analytical mind and strong problem-solving abilities. Above all else, a psychiatrist must be worthy of the trust and confidence they will need to inspire in their patients.
You'll have gained a wealth of experience by the time you've completed the educational qualifications to become a psychiatrist. Medical school will involve two years of general medical rotations through various departments. Your residency will last at least four more years. During your residency, you will be given more and more responsibility as you work with doctors and other health professionals in family medicine, pediatrics, neurology, and psychiatry. Those looking to specialize in an area like sleep medicine, geriatric psychiatry, or child psychiatry will be required to complete another year of training in a fellowship program.
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