How to Become a Psychiatrist

This article provides in-depth information into What is a Psychiatrist? What Psychiatrist do? Degrees for Psychiatrist, Steps to become Psychiatrist and much more.

Psychiatrists work with patients who are dealing with a variety of issues, including trauma, mental illness, and addiction. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who treat mental illness, addiction, mood disorders and other mental health issues. A psychiatrist treats patients using a variety of methods like counseling, psychoanalysis, and medication. During treatment, they will track the patient's behavior by talking with them regularly to assess their mental state and progress.

What does a Psychiatrist do ?

A psychiatrist helps patients by evaluating medical and psychosocial conditions; developing and implementing treatment plans, including the prescription of psychotropic medications; monitoring and evaluating treatment results.

  • Prescribe, direct, or administer psychotherapeutic treatments or medications to treat mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders.

  • Gather and maintain patient information and records, including social or medical history obtained from patients, relatives, or other professionals.

  • Design individualized care plans, using a variety of treatments.

  • Collaborate with physicians, psychologists, social workers, psychiatric nurses, or other professionals to discuss treatment plans and progress.

  • Analyze and evaluate patient data or test findings to diagnose nature or extent of mental disorder.

  • Examine or conduct laboratory or diagnostic tests on patients to provide information on the general physical condition or mental disorder.

  • Counsel outpatients or other patients during office visits.

  • Advise or inform guardians, relatives, or significant others of patients' conditions or treatment.

  • Teach, take continuing education classes, attend conferences or seminars, or conduct research and publish findings to increase understanding of mental, emotional, or behavioral states or disorders.

  • Review and evaluate treatment procedures and outcomes of other psychiatrists or medical professionals.

  • Prepare and submit case reports or summaries to government or mental health agencies.

  • Serve on committees to promote or maintain community mental health services or delivery systems.

Steps for becoming a Psychiatrist


Complete A Bachelor’s Degree Program

The first step to becoming a psychiatrist is to earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. In preparation for medical school, a good choice would be to focus on pre-med, physical sciences or psychology or a combination of the three by utilizing a double major or minor. Medical school admissions are very competitive, so high grades and an impressive list of courses during the undergraduate study are essential. Students should also plan ahead for the next step in their journey by taking advantage of any prep classes offered for the MCAT.

Earning A Bachelor's Degree


Take The Medical College Admissions Test

The MCAT is a vital component of the admissions process for medical school. This examination is a standard test comprised of three multiple-choice sections. Students should take the MCAT the year before they intend to apply to medical school; they are allowed to take it as many times as necessary in order to pass. Those who need to retake the MCAT can sign up for a new testing period two days after their previous examination. Medical schools evaluate prospective students’ score on the MCAT and their undergraduate performance to determine whether to offer the student enrollment.



Complete An MD Or DO Degree Program

Students who enter medical school can choose between two designations to eventually become a psychiatrist: a Doctor of Medicine (MD) program or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) program. Each degree focuses on the same methods of treatment, but a DO degree also focuses on osteopathic manipulative medicine.

 Complete an MD or DO Degree


Complete A Residency

Once students have graduated from medical school, they still need some supervised training. During their residency, students work for three to eight years in a clinical or hospital setting. They are given the opportunity to further hone their skills during this time as they work under the direction of licensed psychiatrists.

 Complete a Residency Training


Get Licensed And Board-Certified

Students who complete medical school and a successful residency can then apply for their medical license and board certification. Those who graduate from an MD program take the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), while those who graduate from a DO program take the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA).

After receiving their medical license, students can take the examination for board certification, which is offered through the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN). Students who sit for board certification can take the test as many times as necessary in order to pass. Certification must be renewed every ten years.

Get Licence


Continue Learning

Earning a psychiatry degree and becoming licensed does not mean the education ends. Those who earn their board certification must enter into continuing education programs throughout their career in order to remain certified. For most psychiatrists, this includes an average of 30 credits earned per year. Some states might require even more continuing medical education (CME) credits in order to continue practicing.

Continue Learning about Psychiatry degree

Psychiatrist Salaries


Psychiatrist Degree Levels


Although an associate degree program in psychiatry does not exist, individuals do have the option to earn an Associate degree in psychiatric technology. Associate degree programs in psychiatric technology differ from certificate programs because they include general education courses, such as English, mathematics, and science. They also touch upon psychological and fundamental nursing concepts, as well as include clinical work.

Mental and developmental disabilities
  • Developmental disabilities

  • Legislation and court decisions

  • Mental retardation

  • Define and classify developmental disabilities

  • Describe the impact of various disabilities

  • Recognize the uniqueness of various disabilities

Community mental health
  • Illness Management

  • Wellness & Recovery

  • Co-occurring Disorders

  • Students will explore community mental health theories and practices

  • Students will be able to identify the socio-cultural factors

  • Students will become familiar with the practice of Community Mental Health

Drug and alcohol treatment
  • Addiction and the Family

  • Medical Model of the Addictions

  • Treatment Settings

  • Social Alcohol Use and its Effects

  • Chronic Alcohol Use and its Consequences

  • Addictive Behaviors


As an aspiring psychiatrist, you'll need to take undergraduate courses in biology, chemistry, math, and physics to meet medical school admissions requirements. Though any bachelor's degree is usually acceptable, majoring in a science discipline or a pre-med field might offer you the best preparation for medical school.

Developmental psychology
  • Lifespan Development

  • Biological Beginnings & Prenatal Development

  • Physical & Cognitive Development

  • Distinguish between major theoretical perspectives in developmental psychology

  • Articulate various developmental terms and concepts

  • Apply developmental concepts and theories to everyday relationships and situations

Life science
  • Domains of organisms

  • Development of cell theory

  • Eutrophication, climate changes, and catastrophic disturbances

  • Demonstrate an understanding of scientific reasoning, logic, and the nature of science

  • Investigate and understand patterns of cellular organization of living things

  • investigate and understand the classification of organisms

  • Ethical Principles of Psychiatrists

  • Ethical Conflicts in Psychology

  • Confidentiality, & Duty to Protect

  • To familiarize students with contemporary ethical and professional conduct issues

  • To provide students with guidelines for evaluating and resolving ethical dilemmas

  • To provide students with models for how psychology can contribute to matters of social policy


To become psychiatrist students must complete four years of medical school to earn a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) or Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree. All psychiatrists go through the same medical training as all other doctors, with a focus on learning how the body functions, how to treat all types of disease and explore processes of the mind. The first two years of medical school are spent building a solid foundation in all areas of medicine that includes coursework in anatomy, psychology, pathology, physiology, biochemistry, and immunology.

  • Introduction to Anatomy

  • Skull

  • Nervous Tissue and Nervous System

  • To learn the names and functions of anatomical structures

  • Be able to effectively utilize anatomic terminology

  • Possess a basic understanding of the structures and relationships of the human body

  • Introduction to Psychology

  • Psychology of Personality

  • Law and Social Psychology

  • Explain the major perspectives of psychology

  • Describe psychology in relation to other disciplines

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of theory and research

  • General Pathology

  • Cardiac Pathology

  • Laboratory Medicine Theme

  • Classify diseases of various body systems

  • Management of pathologic conditions

  • Pathology’s role in the diagnosis, staging, and management of disease