Psychiatry vs. Psychology
In casual conversation, many people may use the words “psychiatry” and “psychology” interchangeably. However, if you want to work in a mental health career, it’s important that you understand the difference. Both paths focus on helping patients work toward better mental health, and psychiatrists and psychologists often work together, but there is a significant difference between the two positions’ education and practice.
Those hoping to study psychology often pursue graduate school to receive a doctorate – either a Doctor of Philosophy degree (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Psychology degree (Psy.D.). Ph.D. programs typically focus on research and a final dissertation, while Psy.D. students are often trained with a greater emphasis on clinical work. Psychologists in either track are not trained in medical principles, but throughout their study will learn about psychological testing methods, along with treatments and techniques like psychological and behavioral therapy.
On the job, psychologists often work with psychological tests like the Rorschach Test to better understand their patients. They have received special training in administering and interpreting these tests, but they may also turn to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Most psychologists cannot prescribe medication, but they are experts in psychotherapy and working with a patient to better address their thoughts and emotions, and many schedule weekly counseling appointments with their patients.
One of the biggest deviations between the two fields of study is that psychiatry is a branch of medicine, and psychiatrists attend medical school just like your primary care doctor. They work toward a Doctor of Medicine degree (M.D.) learning about the systems and functions of the human body, exploring basics of anatomy as well as the specific physiological and chemical causes of mental health disorders. They learn the treatment plans for each medical condition, and many choose a specific sub-specialty, which we’ll discuss in more detail elsewhere on this page.
Psychiatrists often turn first to the DSM to help diagnose their patients, although they may also utilize psychological tests, physical exams like a CT scan, and more. Just like a psychologist, a psychiatrist’s goal is to improve their patient’s well-being, although their methods are different. Many psychiatrists may only see their patients once a month and focus on managing medications to treat chemical imbalances behind the patient’s condition. A psychiatrist can provide psychotherapy as well, or choose to work in tandem with a psychologist offering those services.
Find Your Calling Today
Whether you want to explore psychology or psychiatry, you can explore hundreds of mental health employment openings through Psych Jobs Now. Our platform is open to job seekers and employers alike, making it easier to find qualified candidates for positions ranging from a psychiatric social worker to a clinical psychiatrist. Create your account profile today to see for yourself!
Psychiatry Specialties to Consider
When it comes to working in a mental health career, your options are nearly endless. Psychiatry is a complex, multifaceted area of study that can accommodate almost any interest or motivation. Whether you hope to dedicate your career to helping kids, or you want to use your psychiatry experience to contribute to the legal system, there is a specialty out there for you. Learn more about all the concentrations within psychiatry you have to choose from, and find careers to match with Psych Jobs Now!
In the field of child psychiatry, most of your patients will be children or adolescents. However, because you will be working with minors, that also means you will often be working with their guardians and families. You would have the opportunity to work with someone throughout their life, and there are plenty of specialties within this field. From early childhood development to early onset disorders like autism, attention deficit disorder, and learning disabilities, you can focus on what you are most passionate about.
The need for psychiatric help increases again as we age, which has led to the field of geriatric psychiatry. You would be working with people toward the end of their life and helping them handle many aspects of aging, from physical difficulties to emotional challenges dealing with loneliness, loss, and bereavement. There are also many illnesses that have a higher incidence among senior citizens, including stroke, dementia, and depression, and these come with mental health consequences for which you can offer support.
If you want to explore a broader application of psychiatry without working with individual patients, then forensic psychiatry may be for you. This field intersects most frequently with the legal system, and you would be working with lawyers in many aspects. Forensic psychiatrists are often those called upon for duties like performing psychiatric evaluations for trials and criminal investigations.
Another branch of psychiatry with a lot of overlap in other fields is addiction psychiatry. You would receive training for both psychiatry and substance abuse, and most jobs in this field are in a clinical setting. Mental disorders and substance abuse often intersect, and you would be uniquely trained to help in both respects. There is also a lot of opportunity to work in fields of child and forensic psychiatry.
In a similar vein, there are educational programs and jobs specific to emergency psychiatry, which is the application of psychiatric practices in emergency situations. You would face a wide variety of patients and the possibility of many different settings, since emergency psychiatry applies to a number of situations, including the risk of suicide, threatened violence against others, psychosis, substance abuse, and rapid changes in someone’s behavior. Natural disasters can also trigger the need for emergency psychiatry as victims cope with widespread psychological trauma.
Many psychiatric crises occur in hospital settings or doctors’ offices, and there is broad cooperation among medical teams and social workers. Emergency psychiatry requires a certain set of skills and an important base of knowledge and experience, but the result of a job well done can often mean saving lives.
For those looking for a more intellectual application of psychiatry, or those who want less boots-on-the-ground work and a better work-life balance, administrative psychiatry may be the answer. It is a great opportunity for more experienced psychiatrists who want to expand their job role and exercise new skills. You would have the opportunity to teach and lead a team as well as experience clinical work. Successful administrative psychiatrists often have strong interpersonal and organizational skills and experience with budget management, mental healthcare management, and the law and ethics surrounding psychiatry.
The basis of every branch of psychiatry is, of course, research. Those who dedicate themselves to research benefit other mental health professionals across fields as they compile the data psychiatrists need to enact effective prevention methods and treatments. Depending on what you want to pursue in the field of psychiatric research, you can change clinical practices, inform health policies, and expand our knowledge about the human body and mind.
If you are looking for a career and a calling where you can truly help people, then psychiatry may be for you. There are hundreds of ways you can apply your education and experience in this field, and somewhere out there is the perfect job for you. Start your journey today with Psych Jobs now!
Where Do Psychiatrists Work
Once you choose this line of work, you have many opportunities to choose from in several different settings. The psychiatrist career path presents diversity and flexibility, and, in many cases, you’ll have the ability to determine your own work and time commitments. Read on to learn about a few of the possibilities for your future, and explore the wide variety of jobs in the mental health field today with Psych Jobs Now.
About half of psychiatrists in the U.S. work in a private practice, which means they run their own business and make their own decisions. You won’t have to worry about the bureaucratic red tape of a hospital, which can slow down everything from receiving patient information to replacing a broken printer, and you will be able to choose your own team. You will have to recruit your own clients, but you will also be able to choose where you work and bring your expertise to a community that needs it.
Even within the setting of a college or university, you have options. With the right credentials, you can perform research and teach future generations of psychiatrists. On the other hand, you can also offer psychiatric services to students on campus, who are often in high-stress situations without the support systems they had in childhood.
If you are interested in emergency psychiatry, then you are likely to work in an emergency room. As we mentioned earlier, this field can include working directly with patients threatening suicide or violence or experiencing psychosis. It is a challenging workplace, but there is a definite demand for emergency psychiatrists in communities all across the U.S. You’ll have the opportunity to provide immediate treatment to people who need it most, with a focus on assessment, short-term solutions, and recommendations for more long-term treatment.
Offering psychiatric services at a hospital can mean many things. You can be a part of a general service team or a psychiatric-specific ward. You also have the option to choose between an inpatient or outpatient facility. In any case, you will likely be focused on working with patients on a more long-term basis, perhaps in conjunction with other medical treatment plans. You can not only help them solely with psychiatric problems, but also help them cope with any mental health concerns that may be associated with a physical illness or injury, and explore the connection between mental and physical health.
Hospice is a place or service that offers specialized care for those who are terminally ill or experiencing serious medical issues. It’s about improving or maintaining a patient’s quality of life, and psychiatric care is an important aspect of that. There are many ways a psychiatrist in hospice may apply their expertise, including helping those with long-term psychiatric conditions like Alzheimers, assisting patients whose physical injuries or circumstances have affected their mental health, or working with clients to handle end-of-life issues and concerns.
Whatever goals you may have for your psychiatric career path, you are likely to find a workplace to accommodate them. Create an account with Psych Jobs Now and start exploring hundreds of job openings today!
How to Become a Psychiatrist
If you are at the beginning of your career or you are planning a career change, then this guide is for you. Becoming a psychiatrist takes years of hard work and thorough education and training, but it can lead to a fulfilling career unlike any other. Read on to learn the steps to becoming a psychiatrist, and don’t forget to visit Psych Jobs Now to find the perfect mental health career.
To start, anyone hoping to become a psychiatrist will need a high school degree or a GED to pursue an undergraduate degree. Keep in mind that psychiatrists – unlike psychologists – are trained medical doctors, and therefore you need to prepare for medical school. This typically requires classes like biology, chemistry, and math. Although there is no requirement on what kind of bachelor’s degree you earn, studying a science discipline or choosing pre-med will likely serve you best as you move forward.
Next, you will need to earn a degree as a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) You will take classes on subjects such as human anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, and medical laws and ethics, and your coursework will likely include learning from lectures as well as hands-on labs. In pursuit of a career in psychiatry, you should also look for classes in behavioral science, neuroscience, and more.
After medical school, you will enter a four-year residency program in a clinic or hospital. There, you are likely to receive training in multiple disciplines, from neurology to chemical dependence and addiction. You will receive training in psychotherapy and you will learn more about the process of diagnosing and treating a range of conditions. In the last year of your residency, you can focus your electives and hands-on experience to better align with your plans for the future.
If you plan to further specialize after your residence, you have the option to participate in a fellowship, which typically lasts another year. This program offers you more focused training on the specialty of your choice, like addiction or forensic psychiatry. If you plan to pursue child or adolescent psychiatry, this additional training often takes two years instead of one. However, you may have the option to start this training after your third year in residency.
You need to obtain a medical license in order to practice psychiatry. First, you need to pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination to be licensed within the U.S. Often, you will have taken care of this first round of licensing before the end of your residency.
Once you are approved to practice psychiatry within the U.S., you will need a license to practice in a specific state. Each state has their own licensing requirements, which you should research in preparation. You will likely have to take another exam that tests your understanding of state regulations and practices in order to earn your state medical license.
Similar to participating in a fellowship, becoming a certified psychiatrist is an optional step in your career path. Board certification with the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology is not required, but it can help expand your employment opportunities and improve your viability as a candidate.
A certification demonstrates your competence in psychiatry – whether general psychiatry or a subspecialty – and it is valid for 10 years. You can renew your credentials down the road as long as you are in good standing, actively practicing, and committed to continuing education.
Whether you are just starting to explore the psychiatrist career path or you are exploring your options as an experienced practitioner, you can search for opportunities here with Psych Jobs Now. Create a profile, search for positions that match your interests and experience, and take the first step toward a mental health professional job today!