Becoming a Psychiatrist seems like a big task, can someone give me some insight?
I understand that I have to go to college and major in Psychiatry, Biology, or Chemistry and then after that I have to go to medical school, but is the process of becoming one stressful and over bearing? If so could you give me tips on how to cope with this? I really want to become a Psychiatrist because I enjoy how people think and this job seems really interesting to work in. #psychiatry #medicine #healthcare #mental-health
I know very few psychiatrists who went to medical school planning on becoming a psychiatrist. Most go with the idea of becoming another type of doctor, and find they really enjoy their psychiatry rotations or courses in medical school.
First off, psychiatrists study and treat the biological integration of the mind and body. Where the brain becomes a person, and how that goes right and wrong.
I find psychiatry a very rewarding and demanding job. It requires great intellect, ethics, and empathy. In exchange for treatment, patients must grant you their private thoughts and personal medical information. This level of trust requires great integrity and skill. In reward, you get paid not only financially, but in heartfelt gratitude. This job is best, for someone who is interested in both science and the humanities. I also think it’s best to have a stable temperament, humility, curiosity and empathy.
Being a psychologist, (a PhD) and being a psychiatrist are quite different, in the sense that a psychologist studies psychology, and may choose to get a masters degree or a PhDin the academic field of psychology. Ultimately many do become a therapist, if that is their interest, but not all of PhD’s in psychology practice clinical therapy.
Psychiatrists are trained in psychotherapy, but mostly do assessments and medical care. We often are better paid than psychologists, but typically have more paperwork, legal requirements, and loans to go with that income.
Psychiatrists typically offer medication management, diagnostic workups, hospital consultations and legal paperwork.
We combine psychotherapy and pharmacology in patient care, as part of our work, but doing formal hourly therapy visits with patients often reduces our income significantly. Most hospital systems I’ve worked for, or interviewed for, do not allow psychiatrists to offer ongoing psychotherapy to patients who don’t have medication or other medical needs. Those who do often limit it to a smaller percent of our work. Typically outpatient offices require 2-4 patient visits per hour. Private practices offer talk therapy with psychiatrists, but often accept a lower hourly income unless their patients pay out of pocket, instead of using insurance.
We often serve as clinic directors or psychiatric team leaders in collaboration with social workers, nurses, therapists, emergency room physicians, other medical doctors and the legal system.
If you want to spend lots of time in deep therapy sessions, a PhD or master’s in therapy would be a better fit.
Medical school is very arduous and expensive. I loved the experience, but it can be brutal at times. You start with two years of intense classroom work. This includes gross anatomy (including dissecting a cadaver), pathology, microbiology, physical exam skills etc.
Then 2 years of clinical rotations such as radiology, pediatrics, surgery. I frequently spent every third or fourth night awake in a hospital. Medical students are often trailing a resident and observing and helping out. Sometimes you are highly welcomed by a magnanimous attending, sometimes you are an additional burden on a stressed intern. I was given lots of scut work, and also taken out to lunch many times.
I pushed gurneys, held retractors, started IVs, did rectal exams, I even did the entire circumcision of four newborn boys. (Medical students must be closely supervised for all this, but are allowed to administer care). It was thrilling, boring, stressful, and routine all at the same time. I was emotionally abused by residents, I once got a risky needle stick. I often was so tired, I am truly lucky I never fell asleep behind the wheel.
Medicine is a life choice, and becoming a psychiatrist means of being a physician first.
I disagree with the prior opinion that OBGYN rotations, and much of my medical school learning has little bearing on my job now. For example, I counsel patients daily on how their hormones affect PMDD, post partem depression, and how their birth control affects their moods. I give the nuanced risks and benefits of taking psychiatric medications when trying to conceive. None of which is possible to fully understand without training in OBGYN.
We are a specialty of medicine. We check liver enzymes, and blood levels of drugs. We are also therapists at heart, who use that training to understand and help people in a deep and nuanced way that no other medical speciality gets trained in.
Anyone interested in psychiatry should consider shadowing a primary care doctor first. Committing to medical school without truly knowing what medical training and practice entails, would be a really big risk to take.
Good of luck in your choice!