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Should I get a premed degree to do psychiatry?

I am one year away from completing my bachelor's degree in psychology. I originally wanted to do child psychology for a place like Kaiser. However, lately I've been thinking about doing child psychiatry instead. I've been doing some research and see that instead of applying for a master's program I should be applying for med school. So I guess my main questions are:
1. Should I go back and do premed before applying to med school?
2. Is handling med school feasible while also working a part time or full time job?
3. If I do need to go back and do premed, is that something I am able to do at a community College in order to save money? #psychology #medicine #doctor #premed #college #psychiatry #medschool


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Hannah’s Answer

Hi Nicholas,

Premed is not a degree. Rather it is a series of courses that are prerequisite to medical school, so you absolutely need to complete them before applying. I would guess your school has a premed advising office that could tell you more about the requirements. You can major in anything you'd like so long as you complete the requirements and get competitive grades in your premed classes.

You can definitely take many premed required classes at a community college, possibly all of them. Having not gone that route myself, I can't tell you for sure.

I don't know the answer for sure to your second question. I was premed, but I didn't actually end up applying to med school.

You could toss in a biology or chemistry class if you can during your senior year to test the waters.

Best of luck!

Thank you so much Hannah! :) Nicholas F.

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Susan Delphine’s Answer

I was a chemistry major and our lab schedule made biology courses impossible. When I decided to go to med school I had to take Zoology 101 and Comparative Anatomy. You will want to look at a MCAT study guide and see if you have enough science to do well. You might need to take Chemistry and Organic Chemistry. There were Physics questions on my MCAT. As Dan mentioned, above, some med schools tell you what prereqs they have.

You absolutely cannot work in med school. One semester I had ten courses, 23 GRADUATE HOURS.

You can take your "remedial science" at any college. Community college is fine.

Child psychiatrists have cash practices that fill up in three months. "None" take insurance. Cash is good. Busy is good. It should be easy to pay back your loans as a child psychiatrist. Your office will be simple. A "therapy" room and a small waiting room.

Thank you very much Susan! So what you're saying is I can finish my Psychology BA on time and then do my premed requirements at my local community College then? Nicholas F.

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Richard’s Answer


In the US, to apply to medical school, you need a bachelor's degree. Any 4-year university should suffice.

I don’t know of any college that offeres a pre-med degree. Any major including your psychology degree is acceptable as long as you complete the prerequisite courses.

Typical medical school prerequisites include:
Biology: Lecture – 4 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
General Chemistry: Lecture – 2 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
Organic Chemistry: Lecture – 2 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
Biochemistry: Lecture – 1 semester
General Physics: Lecture – 2 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
Math: Statistics – 1 semester
English: Rhetoric (Composition) and Literature – 2 semesters


Having a full time job during medical school would be impossible. A part time job would be very difficult.

Some of the basic courses are available at a community college but Some of the upper division classes are not.

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Rachel’s Answer

Yes, you will need to complete the pre med requirements to go to medical school and then pursue a residency in psychiatry. That being said, you can major in whatever field you think is interesting and will allow you to maintain a high GPA.

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Kimberly’s Answer

Hi, you do not need a premed degree to go to med school, but you will need a strong biology and chemistry background. I do recommend adding a few of those classes (community college should be fine) if you are light in that area. Med school is very competitive, so preparing for the MCAT will be important.

I see, thank you very much Kimberly! So what I understand from this is that it's less about what classes I take and more about how prepared I am for the MCAT? Nicholas F.

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Estelle’s Answer

You sound highly motivated. I recommend getting premed requirements through community college to save money then apply to medical school. Psychiatry will give you more flexibility than psychology. It's not really feasible to have a job during medical school because the work load is too demanding.
Good luck!

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Dan’s Answer

Pre-med some schools have made it a major but in reality all it is a series of minimal requires for medical school admission. If you have not done these requirements you will have to do them before you apply. In addition they give you an introduction to the subjects tested on the MCAT which is the medical school admission test.

As I inferred prior, these are minimum requirements, if you want a chance at medical school you will have to take extra classes such as biochemistry, physiology, anatomy, micro etc. You will also need extracurricular activities both involving and not involving medicine. This whole process is a competition as well as a filtering program. You must do well in these classes and I would personally do them at an university, an actual university (public state school, ivy league, etc). The reason for this is that it looks better on your resume, an A in Ochem from say UCLA weights more than Riverside Community for example.

As for a part time or full time job during medical school -- I would say not possible for 98% of medical students. You're grinding hard in medical school since you're still competing, just this time it is for residency spots. Medical school is not easy it's def harder than undergrad, way more interesting though. Also, you want to learn as much as you can to be able to function as an intern so your focus will be on school. Most likely you will not have time to work -- but if you're a monster and can learn what others need 12 hours to learn in an hour or two than work if you want.

Being medical student is a full-time job all in itself.

Hope that helps, best of luck.

Thank you so much Dan! Very helpful info! Nicholas F.

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Yasemin’s Answer

Hi Nicolas. So premed means you are a student on the way to medical school. First of all you can be any major and apply to medical school the main thing is to take prereqs for med school. Pre reqs, short for prerequisites are classes that prepare you for medical school. They give you a foundation for what you will face as a med student. I was a psychology major but I decided the premed route my freshmen year entering college so I incorporated premed classes in addition to my Psychology major classes. I even took so many chem classes I got a minor. That being said you can stay an extra couple years and take the prerequisites that are required or you can definitely go to a community college as well, as it is cheaper. Just be sure to speak with a premed adviser at your college and make sure that cc is good to take these courses. I think it would be fine especially since you considered a change in your career path. Medical schools look for diversity, so if you aren't exactly the traditional applicant it wouldn't hurt your chances of applying. It would actually give you a talking point when medical schools ask why you chose this route and what inspired you. However, these courses do take time and it is important to do well, since they are undergraduate I believe they will be added in with your current GPA. But make sure to check with your adviser! So take time and let's say you finish the bachelor's degree in Psychology, you can spend a year or two and take the required classes at a local cc.

Working during medical school is not feasible and not advised to be honest. I have two siblings, one who is a resident in the field of psychiatry and one who is almost complete in medical school, both held significant jobs in college but neither continued them in medical school. Think of it this way you are working for your career, you are studying to save someone's life. You are already doing a very hard job in becoming a physician and you don't need more stress with coordinating work. Both my siblings study close to 15 hours a day, especially during clinical rotations and important exams like USMLE Step 1. The main thing is to focus on your schooling and take out loans to budget yourself financially. Once you begin residency and begin getting a paycheck you will be able to start paying your loans back. Sometimes there are research opportunities with a paid position but I don't have too much detail on those and they may take place during time you have off such as when waiting for residency interviews.

Also as a side note- medical schools look favorable to and even want you to do some volunteering, clinically/non-clinically and shadowing as well; if you are going to take this route I would advise to look into those opportunities as well. You can find some on your campus and check with a premed adviser about shadowing a physician. Local hospitals also take volunteers as well to help with patients, you can check out their website or give a call to the volunteer coordinator program if they have one.
Best of luck!

Awesome, thank you so much Yasemin! Nicholas F.

You're welcome! If you have any more questions I'll be glad to help! Yasemin G.

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