A psychiatrist treats mental and emotional disorders in patients. Psychiatrists are licensed medical doctors who are authorized to prescribe medication. There are several sub-specialties in psychiatry like adolescent, geriatric, occupational and forensic psychiatry.
Psychiatrist Vs Psychologist
Most people get confused between a psychiatrist and a psychologist. They do not know the difference between the two since both these medical professionals deal with mentally ill patients. However, there is a distinct difference in their education, practice and authority to prescribe medication.
The suffix “-iatry” in psychiatry means “medical treatment”. Therefore, psychiatrists are authorized to prescribe medications to treat their patients. On the other hand, the suffix “-logy” in psychology means “science” or “theory” and refers to the study of mental illnesses and conditions. Therefore, psychologists are not authorized to prescribe medications to treat their patients. Instead, they use psychoanalysis and psychotherapy to treat their patients.
Patients who have severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia and other major mental problems might require medication to treat the disorder. Therefore, these patients would have to consult a psychiatrist for treatment. Patients with milder issues like anxiety or depression can approach a psychologist for help.
How To Become A Psychiatrist
It normally takes 12 years of study and practice to become a registered psychiatrist. A person has to first undergo four years of undergraduate school preferably majoring in psychology, although a specific major is not required. However, the premedical degree should include courses in physics, chemistry and biology, and in English, math and the humanities. Once students finish these courses, they will be eligible to undergo medical school training.
The medical degree program typically takes four years to complete. The first two years involve classroom and laboratory instructions in physiology, anatomy, pathology and pharmacology. The remaining two years involve supervised clinical experience where students will learn to diagnose patients and conduct medical exams.
After completing medical school, they need to undergo four years of postdoctoral training in residency programs which include paid clinical practice in hospitals. The APA or American Psychiatric Association requires psychiatric residents to complete 36 months of resident training in psychiatry apart from participating in family medicine, internal medicine, emergency care, pediatrics, and neurology programs in rotation.
Students then need to pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination to become psychiatrists licensed by the state. The requirements for attaining and maintaining a license may differ from state to state. A psychiatrist salary can range from $150,000 to $250,000 with the median salary close to $192,592.
There are many areas in the field of Psychiatry that are worth looking into. The good news is that this is a field that is growing and has been consistently growing for the last few decades or so. There are many mental disorders that will require the expertise and highly specialized training of psychiatrists.
Please visit our website, where we discuss what a psychiatrist does, what the job requires, and what education and training is needed in order to become a psychiatrist. Once you are aware of these details, you can then make an informed choice, such as whether you should become a psychologist or a psychiatrist. More importantly, you will be able to select a career path that will not only advance your career but also suit your interests.