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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

How to become a psychiatrist

Training pathway

Click below to find out more about each stage.

Medical school

The first step is to take a medical degree (MBBS, MBChB).

To be secure a place at medical school, you’ll need least 3 good A Levels, including one or more science subjects (chemistry is compulsory at most medical schools).

Work experience will also help you get into medical school as well as improving your knowledge and understanding of psychiatry.

There are many hospitals throughout the UK which offer work experience to Year 10/11 students, sixth formers and medical students. Also consider other “caring” roles such as volunteering with St John’s Ambulance or working in an old person’s home. The BMA, Medical Schools Council and Health Careers websites provide more information about getting into medical school.

Medical degrees normally take five years, though you can complete some graduate entry courses in four years (if you already have a degree). Or, you can “Intercalate” (do a BSc degree in one year), extending your medical degree by one year to six years.

If you are interested in working in Mental Health, but do not want to complete a medical degree, you may consider careers such as psychology and counselling. The following organisations can provide further information:

 

 

 

Foundation training

Although you are training all through your two-year foundation programme, you will also be working, which means you will be being paid too.

You will complete a number of training posts, each lasting a few months. Throughout the programme, you’ll get experience in a number of different medical specialties, such as GP, Psychiatry or surgery.

There is more information about the Foundation Programme, what you’ll learn and how to apply on the Foundation Programme website.

 

Core psychiatry training

During core psychiatry training, you will work and train in a number of different sub-specialties within psychiatry. This way, you’ll gain a broad understanding of the specialty.

Core training lasts three years, these are referred to as CT1, CT2 and CT3. By the end of CT3, you need to have completed your MRCPsych exam so that you can apply to the next stage of training.

There are two opportunities per year to apply to core psychiatry training. Information about how to apply, including the person specifications, is available via the North West Deanery, who manage the recruitment process.

You may be able to apply for run-through training, which guarantees you complete both Core and Higher training in one region – read about our pilot child and adolescent training programme.

 

Higher psychiatry training

Higher Psychiatry Training normally takes three years, known as ST4, ST5 and ST6.

During those three years, your training will reflect the subspecialty you have chosen. You will train in child and adolescent, forensic, general adult, old age, psychotherapy or psychiatry of learning disabilities. There will also be opportunities to work in other sub-specialities including: addictions, eating disorders, neuropsychiatry, perinatal and social & rehabilitation psychiatry.

Information about how to apply to higher psychiatry training is available from the North West Deanery. When you have completed your training, you will receive your CCT (Certificate of Completion of Training).

You may be able to apply for run-through training, which guarantees you complete both Core and Higher training in one region – read about our pilot child and adolescent training programme.

 

Working as a psychiatrist

When you have completed your training, you will receive your CCT (Certificate of Completion of Training) and you will be entered onto the GMC’s specialist register. This means that you are able to apply for consultant posts.

As a consultant psychiatrist, you are able to work independently (though you will still be working in a team). You may also lead a team of other professionals in managing the care of patients.

At this point in your career, you may also want to develop other work interests such as medico-legal work, teaching and training, or management and leadership.

 

 

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