Pre-Health Psychiatry Advising
Diagnosing mental disorders and enhancing treatments toward recovery
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.
Learn more about Alfred University's Pre-Health Medicine Advising.
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.
Learn more about Alfred University's Pre-Health Medicine Advising.
- Timeline - Students should refer to Alfred University's Pre-Health Timeline and Checklist (below) to assist them in career planning.
- College Major and Required Courses - There is no specific major that is required, or that is "best" to pursue. Medical schools are looking for well-educated and well-rounded individuals. Students should complete the Pre-Health Checklist to be sure that they have met all requirements.
- The MCAT - Most medical schools require the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). The usual time to take it is in the spring semester of the Junior year. Adequate preparation for this test is essential, since admission to medical school is competitive.
- Extracurricular activities are a very important part of the applicant's materials. Most medical schools place emphasis on volunteer community service. Some volunteer experience in a medical setting is a must. Undergraduate research is a plus.
- It is important to get to know faculty members so that they can write appropriate letters of recommendation. The Pre-Health Professions Advisory Committee at Alfred University can prepare a Pre-Medical Committee Letter for students.
- 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.
- Advanced training is available in administrative psychiatry, emergency psychiatry, community psychiatry and public health, health policy, military psychiatry, neuropsychiatry, and specific psychotherapies.
Osteopathic vs Allopathic Medicine
There are two kinds of practicing physicians: allopathic (MD’s) and osteopathic physicians (DO’s). Both are fully licenses physicians, train in diagnosing and treating illnesses and disorders, and in providing preventive care. Osteopathic medicine is a distinctive form of medical practice in the United States. Osteopathic physicians use all of the tools and technology available to modern medicine with the added benefits of a holistic philosophy and a system of hands-on diagnosis and treatment. DO’s emphasize helping each person achieve a high level of wellness by focusing on health education, injury prevention and disease prevention. Allopathic medicine is ‘classic medicine’ that combats diseases with the use of drugs or surgery. Consider shadowing both allopathic and osteopathic physicians and applying to both medical schools.
It is important that you choose a major that reflects your strongest academic interests rather than one that you think would look good to medical schools. Choose a major you are passionate about! It is not a requirement or a benefit to major in a science.
The minimum course requirements for most U.S. medical schools are listed below with their AU equivalent courses. Please check AAMC | Students & Residents.
|PSYC 101 or PSYC 118
|2nd Math or Stats
|MATH 152; 381; BIOL 226; POLS/SOCI 330; PSYC 220
|PHYS 111 or 125
|PHYS 112 or 126
|General Chemistry I
|General Chemistry II
|Organic Chemistry I
|Organic Chemistry II
|Biological Foundations (requirement for Biology sequence)
|Structure and Function
Additional Required or Relevant Coursework
Some medical schools require or recommend additional coursework, e.g., in anatomy and physiology, genetics or ethics.
Medical schools place a strong emphasis on your clinical exposure to medicine and patient care, including time spent shadowing, working in clinics, and other patient-centered settings. Engaging in direct patient interaction (i.e., transporting patients, serving as a medical translator, etc.) will greatly enhance your experience. While there is no set number of hours for this experience, a common guideline is to attempt to gain 500 hours before you apply. Again, this is just a suggestion and by no means a required amount. Instead of focusing on the number of hours, you should instead focus on the type of experience and the benefits for both you and the patients you serve.
Core Competencies of an Applicant
Successful medical school applicants are able to demonstrate skills, knowledge, and abilities in these areas: service orientation, social skills, cultural competence, teamwork, oral communication, ethical responsibility to self and others, reliability and dependability, resilience and adaptability, and capacity for improvement.
Entrance Exam (MCAT)
The newly revised MCAT has 4 sections: Molecular, cellular and organismal properties of living systems; Physical, chemical and biochemical properties of living systems; Social and behavioral sciences principles; and Critical analysis and reasoning skills. Therefore, you are advised to take the MCAT after completing all your prehealth requirements. The MCAT is usually taken during the summer after the junior year.
Submit application materials during the summer before your senior year on the AMCAS website. The Prehealth Advisory Committee will write a composite letter based on letters of recommendation you have received and put into your prehealth file at the CDC. An interview is required by the Committee in order to write your letter.
Early Acceptance Program (EAP)
Alfred University has a special Early Acceptance Program that grants qualified students a provisional early acceptance to LECOM’s School of Osteopathic Medicine. A student may apply for EAP consideration as a high school senior. Current undergraduate students must apply before the end of sophomore year for acceptance.