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What Classes Are Needed to Become a Psychiatrist?

A psychiatrist combines the practice of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy with pharmaceutical medicine in order to treat patients with various mental disabilities. Beginning at the undergraduate level, learning to be a psychiatrist can take at least ten years. Keep reading if you want to know what classes are needed to become a psychiatrist.

Required Education

You'll need to graduate from medical school and complete a psychiatric residency in order to become a psychiatrist. To qualify for medical school, you must first graduate from a four-year undergraduate program, which includes courses in biology, chemistry, and other sciences. You can also apply to a combined program that includes an undergraduate program and medical school, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). You'll then participate in a residency program specializing in psychiatry, which involves on-the-job training.

Important Facts About Psychiatrists

Median Salary (2018) This wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 11% growth
Work Environment Office/clinical setting, but travel to hospitals and other medical settings is common
Professional Certification Certification through the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology is optional

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Medical School Coursework

Medical school usually takes four years and begins with courses in anatomy, the systems of the body, and an introduction to clinical medicine. These programs typically include a course in neuroscience or neurobiology. Other course topics that can help prepare you for a career in psychiatry include:

  • Behavioral science
  • Human development
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatric interviewing
  • Psychodynamic therapy
  • Psychopathology

Psychiatric Clerkship

Part of your third-year clerkships, the psychiatric rotation can take six weeks and is designed to increase your comfort level in working with patients with mental disabilities. You'll get the opportunity to observe and interact with patients in the outpatient, inpatient, and emergency levels. A team of psychiatric professionals will evaluate your ability to recommend pharmaceutical or therapeutic treatment plans, give examinations, and make diagnostic decisions.

Residency Programs

After graduating from medical school and obtaining your license to practice by passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), you're eligible to enter a residency program. Usually lasting four years, the psychiatric residency program is a paid position and combines rotations in inpatient and outpatient treatment, lectures, discussions, and research applications.