Last Updated: April 10, 2021
How are psychologists and psychiatrists different?
In recent times, there has been an ever-increasing need for therapists in the United States. Unfortunately, the need for therapists has been realized after the rate of suicide has increased by one-third since 1999. Additionally, psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and other mental health disorders have seen a spike in numbers as well.
Since the need for more psychologists and psychiatrists has increased, it has been noticed that more students are opting to study in the fields of psychology and psychiatry. However, oftentimes students are faced with the dilemma of choosing between psychiatry and psychology. While similar in nature with a tendency to overlap, there are some vast differences between psychologists and psychiatrists.
All the possible dilemmas a student can face while choosing between psychiatry and psychology are answered below, let's check them out!
Who is a Psychiatrist?
- A psychiatrist is someone who specializes in psychology, and additionally holds a medical degree. They are trained to help people with issues regarding their mental health, behavioral issues, and emotional well-being with the help of medications and therapy.
- A psychiatrist is considered a medical doctor, they are familiar with the science of the body and the brain. Since psychiatrists are trained in drugs and medications, it is their utmost responsibility to make sure that their clients do not have a negative reaction to any medications that are provided for treatment.
- However, it is important to note that every medication for psychological disorders has a side effect. As a psychiatrist, it is their primary responsibility to disclose the side-effects of the medications, and discuss with the patient to check for any kind of discomfort, as well as progress. It is important to remember that psychiatry bases treatments solely on medications; therapy is an additional part so as to make the treatment progress faster and better.
What are the education requirements to become a Psychiatrist?
- Students studying psychiatry will have to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in a science or pre-med field. According to The Association of American Medical Colleges, many med schools will prefer that students complete their undergraduate degree in fields such as chemistry, physics, biology, humanities, or liberal arts. While in the undergraduate program, it is advisable for students to try volunteering in the medical field to help increase the chances of admittance into a med school, which is the next step.
- Students will need to attend medical school for four years to earn a degree to be able to practice medicine. When applying to a med school, students will be required to take the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test). Medical schools will take into consideration more than just the MCAT test scores and the Bachelor’s degree, they will also look at the extracurriculars and volunteer work, letters of recommendation, as well as the experience of the student. Afterward, students will start learning with hands-on experience in a clinical setting during the final two years of the program.
- After completing a medical degree, students will then be required to participate in a residency (usually at a hospital or other medical clinic) for about four years. This will require them to help treat a number of patients with various issues while under the supervision of a licensed and experienced psychiatrist, and it will also offer a salary. Residencies are quite competitive, a student's performance in medical school will greatly affect the chances of being accepted into a residency program.
- As soon as the residency is complete, the final step is to obtain a license and become a licensed and practicing psychiatrist. Furthermore, students can become board-certified in general psychiatry or may choose a sub-specialty such as addiction, adolescence, abnormal disorders, etc.
What are a psychiatrist's career options?
- Psychiatrists can work in a number of different settings. Some of the most popular work settings for a psychiatrist are:
- Nursing Homes
- Prison Setting
- Government & Military settings
- Rehabilitation Centers
- The annual salary of a psychiatrist falls anywhere between $210,000 to $260,000 as of March, 2021.
Top Universities offering Psychiatry courses
- Yale University: The medical school of Yale offers a course in Psychiatry which stands as No.1 in the United States. The tuition fee for one year at the Yale School of Medicine is $65,000.
- Harvard University: At the Harvard University Medical School, students can apply for a course in psychiatry, along with participating and engaging in world-leading research. The annual fees at the Medical School of Harvard University is $65,000.
- Columbia University: The medical department at Columbia University is known as The College of Physicians and Surgeons. Regardless of the department name, the College of Physicians and Surgeons offers courses in psychiatry to interested students. The annual fees for the course in psychiatry at the Columbia University is $64,800.
- Stanford University: The School of Medicine at Harvard University offers one of the top 10 courses in psychiatry. Coupled with groundbreaking research, it is an all-time favorite course for most potential students. The tuition fee per year is $62,000.
- Johns Hopkins University: Students wanting to attend Johns Hopkins University can rejoice, as the School of Medicine at Johns Hopkins offers one of the best psychiatry courses for interested candidates. The annual fee for the course is $57,000.
Who is a Psychologist?
- The major difference between psychiatrists and psychologists is that psychologists are not medical doctors. They are authorized to use psychological tests for diagnosis, however, prescription of drugs or medication is not their authority.
- Psychologists are trained to focus on a patient’s thoughts and emotions, along with focusing on behavioral changes that a patient might go through during the therapy process.
- Psychologists will focus mainly on therapy that will help in changing the thought-process of the patient. Unlike a psychiatrist, the therapy that psychologists provide is a combination of therapy and behavioral changes that are essential for the patient in terms of treatment of a psychological disorder.
- Psychologists will always work with their patients but may work hand-in-hand with a psychiatrist if a patient requires more help or medical attention for their treatment. Psychologists can help to treat trauma, stress, mental illness, personality disorders, phobias, learning disabilities, and much more.
What are the education requirements to become a Psychologist?
- To become a psychologist, students will need first need to complete a Bachelor's degree in Psychology as their major. As with the course of study for Psychiatry, it is recommended that students participate in some volunteer work in the field they are interested in. Additionally, hands-on experience will be helpful but it is not a hard and fast necessity.
- After the undergraduate studies are complete, the next step is to enter into a graduate program to obtain a Masters' degree in the discipline of psychology. Students will need to decide which field they would like to enter: clinical or counseling. Just like when applying to med schools, graduate schools are competitive and will look at not only the transcripts and test scores, but a student's experience in the field as well. Although that is not a necessity, it is ideal to have some experience before entering a Master's program. This program should take about 2-4 years to complete.
- After completing a Master's degree, students can start practicing under a skilled psychologist's supervision. It can be an internship or an assistance ship, whatever is more easily attainable. After practicing, the potential psychologists can work in different settings. Some of the most popular settings are:
- Universities and Colleges
- Under a private practicing psychologist
- Finally, to obtain a license to practice as a psychologist, potential students will have to pass the EPPP (Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology). It is also recommended to get administered under the APA (American Psychological Association).
What are a psychologist's career options?
A psychologist will have many career options available. Some of the settings have more demand for psychologists than others. Here are the most popular work settings:
- Hospitals & clinics
- Nursing homes
- Rehab centers
- Social service organizations
The annual salary of a psychologist falls anywhere between $80,000 to $110,500
as of March 2021.
Top Universities offering Psychology courses
- Stanford University: The course of Psychology offered by Stanford University stands as No.1 in the United States. Along with exceptional choices in the field of study, the university also provides hands-on experience in research and develops the overall skills of the student. The tuition fee for one year at Stanford is $17,000.
- Harvard University: Harvard University is famous for its education in general, hence it is of no surprise that the course in psychology provided by Harvard University is the most sought after by students from all over the world. The annual fees at the Harvard University are $18,000.
- Yale University: At Yale University, the focus is mainly on liberal arts as a field of study. However, the department of psychology is equally valued and rooted as one of the best courses provided by Yale University. The annual fee for the course in psychology at the Yale University is $18,000.
- Vanderbilt University: Vanderbilt University is one of the least known, but also one of the best universities to study psychology from. The students of Vanderbilt get the opportunity to have hands-on experience while studying, making it convenient and productive for every psychology student. The tuition fee per year is $26,000.
- University of Chicago: Students wanting to study psychology as a major should consider the University of Chicago. The University provides one of the best psychology courses and provides the students with the opportunity to mix and match their subjects. The annual fee for the course is $35,000.