The human mind can be very difficult to decipher and the tough task of trying to unravel the mysteries of the mind belongs to individuals with a heavy dose of psychology in their education. Individuals earning an education based in psychology will follow one of two main paths becoming either a psychologist or psychiatrist. While a psychologist may be better known, psychiatrists perform a similar function in addressing the mental disorders of individuals. However, the education the two receive is very different. Psychologists have two specialized degrees they can pursue, the Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD) and Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D). A psychiatry degree on the other hand does not exist.
Those interested in becoming a psychiatrist will have no psychiatry degree available for them to pursue. Instead, psychiatrists are actually doctors who have completed medical school and therefore hold one of two Doctorate level degrees. Those degrees are:
- Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)
- Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)
Individuals interested in a psychiatry degree must attend medical school, but before gaining admission must complete an undergraduate Bachelor’s degree (in most cases). Although most medical schools prefer students complete a Bachelor’s degree with an emphasis on pre-med courses, many will accept students for admission that have a general science undergrad degree with an emphasis in biology, chemistry, physics, or other science fields. Once admitted to a medical school, prospective psychiatrists go through the first four years of medical school taking many of the same classes that medical doctors will complete such as advanced science courses and clinical science classes. At some point however psychiatrists will take courses that cover some of the following topics:
- Interviewing patients
- Substance abuse
- Psychiatric emergencies
- Doctor-patient ethics
- Psychiatric disorders
Those pursuing a psychiatry degree will complete an internship at the end of medical school just as medical doctors would but then will go on to complete a four year residency that offers them a focus in the field of psychiatry. During their residency potential psychiatrists work directly in the field of mental health care in clinics or hospitals.