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What should I major in if I want to be a psychiatrist that works with anorexics and bulimics?

I am a senior in high school and am trying to get some outside input on my major. This career has been my dream for about two years and I am looking for any advice I can get from people who work in the field. Thank you so much for your help.
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Anna’s Answer

Hi Eliezer! I think that it would be helpful for you to consider studying in fields like psychology, sociology, and anthropology. Each of these will teach you about how people and individuals think and how that fits into societies and different cultural settings. I think you'll want to understand more about the societal pressures and dynamics that would lead someone towards having an eating disorder. Similarly, what do different countries and different types of popular culture say about the "right" body image and how does that impact individuals? This type of questioning and analytical thinking is what I gained from studying anthropology and sociology, and it might be especially helpful as you consider a career in public health.

thank you so much Anna for your input, I will be sure to do some further research on the topic befor I pick my major, while keeping your input in mind. Eliezer W.

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Drew’s Answer

I would say your major isn't as critical as learning more about the segment of the population of that suffers from eating disorders. That said, courses like Child and Adolescent Psychology, Fundamentals of Nutrition, and courses related to drugs, addiction and psychology. I say this as many bulimics and anorexics can be cross-addicted; using alcohol, opiates and speed in addition to their eating disorder. This is a way to control weight and caloric intake. Many institutions may offer an undergrad or basic grad survey course in Drugs and Addiction through departments in counseling, sociology/criminal justice; or Social Work/ Psychology. Also, here is a hyperlinked example of a Coursera online curriculum that could give you some specific background in addiction pschology and therapy.

https://www.coursera.org/learn/addiction-and-the-brain

Also, see how many credit hours you may need to qualify for an internship at a family health center or rehabilitation facility where you can get hands-on experience and insight from those that work in the helping profession. In addition, you can obdserve and learn from the eating disorder clients themselves.

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Marcia’s Answer

Hi, Eliezer,

You can work with anorexics/bulimics as a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a clinical social worker or a clinical counselor.
If you want to be a psychiatrist, that is a medical doctor (an MD), so you would have to go to medical school after college. If you plan to go to medical school, it is almost essential that you major in one of the sciences like biology, chemistry, biochemistry, etc. because the exam you have to take to get into medical school, the MCAT, will mostly be testing you on the sciences. Medical school, with all the training is about an 8-year commitment (and hundreds of thousands of dollars) beyond the 4 years of college. If you're ready for that commitment, good for you! Go for it!
A shorter and less expensive route to the kind of work you're interested in is through psychology or social work. If you are most interested in directly counseling patients with anorexia or bulimia, this is a more realistic way to go. It can be a very rewarding career.
If you want to care for the patient's physical health and make decisions about medications, hospitalization, etc., then becoming a psychiatrist is the way to go.
Good luck!

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Morgan’s Answer

Hi Eliezer! As long as you fulfill the requirements needed to be a psychiatrist, you can major in whatever you choose in college. For example, you can be an English major and be accepted into medical school as long as you meet all of their science prerequisites. Does this make sense? Please let me know!

Yes Morgan this made a lot of sense thank you so much for the advice. Eliezer W.

Are there certain majors that you would suggest that might help prepare the student for med school? Gurpreet Lally

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