Do psychologists go to medical school ? PsyD Degree

Do psychologists go to medical school

No, psychologists don’t have to go to medical school. Psychology is a separate discipline to psychiatry. Psychologists who want to do a clinical practice attend a university for about three years to complete their graduate-level coursework. They then go on to do an American Psychological Association-approved internship with senior psychologists who practice clinically. They have to write an original piece of new research called a dissertation and do a defense of their dissertation. Psychologists who want to practice clinically need to be licensed. While other psychologists who just want to enroll themselves in teaching and research do not need to be certified or licensed by the American Psychological Association.

Psychology is clinically distinct from Psychiatry. Psychiatry is a subspecialty of medical doctors while psychology is a graduate degree program. Most psychiatrists enroll into the program after four years of medical school and passing the board certification exam. Both psychiatrists and psychologists can medically and clinically diagnose and are further allowed to treat mental illness, but only psychiatrists can prescribe medication (some states do allow psychologists to have limited prescribing privileges but usually psychiatrists are your mental illness treating doctors). Psychiatrists diagnose illness and manage treatment whereas psychologists help to provide therapy.

Psychology Career

Psychology career path is quite different in different countries and it is best to visit the higher education authority of your country to get the accurate details. I have mentioned the psychology career in US and UK below.

In the US you have to undergo a bachelors programme after which you are allowed to enter the graduate level PsyD (doctor of psychology) degree programme and go on from there to achieve your masters. You can then further pursue a doctorate in psychology PhD and then get licensed as a registered psychologist.

In UK, the journey to become a psychologist usually starts quite early on. You first enroll with an accredited British Psychological Society undergraduate degree Programme. This is a three year degree. Then you have to undergo a 1–2 year approved Masters degree programme (stage 1 of BPS) in the area you want to specialize in. After this you will work under supervisors, who are qualified to train stage 2 BPS psychologists . At the end of a three year working period, you will then go on to apply for the BPS for your final dissertation submission, viva and defense.

Day in the life of a psychologist

Below in the image I have illustrated the usual day in the life of a psychologist.

Its better if I gave you an answer by an esteemed psychologist himself. Mike Leary {M.Ed. Clinical Psychology & Sociology, Wichita State University, Wichita Kansas, USA (1975)} explains a day in his life on Quora. I have linked it here.

Day in the life of a psychologist
Image courtesy of the balance careers

What is it like to be a clinical psychologist?

As a clinical psychologist, the main job you would be assigned is to listen to the people and figure out the source of their mental problems. Most cases would be of anxiety and depression, while some may also include post trauma issues and mental rehab after incidents. There are a lot of other challenging cases that you would face daily but these three major ones are the bread and butter of the field. But it can never be as simple as that. You see you would have to visit patients in prisons and drug camps and rehab center. You would deal with rape and violence survivors and attention seeking adults. All these cases make the field interesting to pursue. Finally, If you don’t like talking to people to diagnose the cause of their mental problems then this ain’t the field for you.

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