How To Start a Career in Psychiatry

In both a challenging, and rewarding career, psychiatrists are generally people interested in understanding not only human behavior but who hope to make a difference in people’s lives. Highly educated doctors of the mind, psychiatrists spend years in school learning about drug interactions, mental wellness, the brain, and how to treat abnormal pathologies. If you’re considering studying psychology and are interested in what it takes to become a psychiatrist, here’s what it will take.



If your end goal is to become a psychiatrist in NYC, there’s a lot you should know. Whether you’ve recently completed your undergraduate degree or have been thinking about graduate school, take a step back before planning your next step. Psychiatrists are medical doctors with a focus on the mind, human behavior, and drug interactions. Unlike doctors of psychology, they attend traditional medical schools. With eyes on the ultimate letters, ‘MD,’ many people get psychiatrists confused with people who have doctorate degrees in psychology. Before you decide which direction to go, you’ll want to know the difference, so you can determine which is right for you.

Maybe you love science, and the ways drugs work on brain chemicals like serotonin is fascinating to you. If your favorite class in your undergrad was in the neurological sciences, a psychiatry path might be best for you. If your interest was more in direct one-on-one talk therapy or work with clients, you could be happier with a doctorate in psychology where your letters will be ‘PsyD.’ It’s important to know the difference, as it will save you years and money down the road.

Clinical Hours


Whether you go for a doctorate in psychology or decide to stick with psychiatry, you’ll need in-person training. Psychiatry programs require multiple levels of supervision. On top of traditional classes in biology, anatomy, neurology, and drug interactions, you’ll be required to work with clients in clinical and research settings. During this time, you’ll be supervised by licensed psychiatrists and medical doctors.

Dressing for Success


Upon graduation from an accredited medical school, you’ll be required to complete supervised hours, take licensing board tests, and exhibit your skills through a variety of assessments. You’ll want to be ready for this and plan to dress appropriately. Everything from petite blazers to formal business suits will matter as you complete the final steps with licensing and formal boards set to approve and review you for licensure.

As you put the final touches on your professional CV, start thinking about how you’ll dress, not only with clients, but as you enter the job force too.

Starting a Private Practice


Most psychiatrists don’t graduate from medical school and jump right into private practice. Because of supervision rules and licensing requirements, psychiatrists have periods where they require supervision. However, it’s likely that after years of medical school and various forms of clinical internships, you’ll have established a strong network and have ties to relationships and mentors who will eventually help you when it’s time to start your practice.

While it takes years to open a private practice, many psychiatrists ultimately go on to supervise others climbing the ladder to do the same. Between seeing clients, participating in research projects, working with doctors and hospitals, and being an advocate for mental wellness, you might one day find yourself serving as a psychiatry mentor, too.

The path to becoming a licensed, practicing psychiatrist takes years. At the end of it lies an exciting, lucrative field where you’ll be trained to help people’s overall mental wellness. From concentrations in research and specialty areas to the ability to prescribe medications and diagnose abnormal pathologies, you’ll have many options of practice models when you get there. If the fields of psychology, pharmaceuticals, and human behavior are of interest to you, this could be exactly the career that’s calling you. If so, prepare to make a big difference.