A psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. Unlike psychologists, psychiatrists are licensed physicians; this means they are able to prescribe medication, order diagnostic laboratory tests and order hospitalization.
Psychiatrists are also trained to understand the biological, psychological, and sociocultural components of mental illness, to evaluate and treat psychological and interpersonal problems, and to give continuing care for psychiatric problems.
After earning their bachelor’s degrees, future psychiatrists must gain admission to and complete four years of medical school. All medical school students first take general medical education courses before spending the last two years becoming familiarized with different medical specialties in practical settings. Psychiatric residency training occurs after the completion of medical school and is typically four years long. Students interested in psychiatry should refer to Alfred University's pre-med information.
Following the residency, many psychiatrists continue training for one to three years. A number of specific fellowships provide advanced training in child and adolescent psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, addictions psychiatry, psychiatry in general medical settings (consultation/liaison psychiatry), pain medicine, neurodevelopmental disabilities, and psychiatric research. Additionally, advanced training is available in administrative psychiatry, emergency psychiatry, community psychiatry and public health, health policy, military psychiatry, neuropsychiatry, and specific psychotherapies.