Five Reasons Why Med Students Should Consider Psychiatry

  • /Reviewed by: Amy Rontal, MD
  • Are you a medical student having a tough time deciding which specialty to choose? With so many great options, it is often hard to figure out which one is your perfect fit. Here are 5 reasons you should consider choosing psychiatry as your career:

    1. Patient diversity

    You can work with patients of all ages, backgrounds, and personalities. Everyone has a different story to share and different presentations for their mental illness. Your first patient can be a 41-year-old woman with an erotomanic delusion that Justin Timberlake is in love with her; your second patient a 22-year-old man in a first break psychotic episode; and your third patient a 68-year-old man in a manic episode believing that he is the greatest singer-songwriter of all time. Psychiatry will always keep your day interesting!

    2. Variety of practice settings

    Do you love the excitement of the ED? Or do you prefer the calmer environment of the outpatient office? In psychiatry, you have a huge variety of practice settings to choose between. You can work for an inpatient unit, outpatient office, psychiatric ED, jail system and courts, academic institution, schools, and many more! You can even work part-time in two or three different practice settings to prevent the burnout from doing the same thing every day.

     3. Lifestyle

    Are you hoping to pick your kids up from soccer practice during the week and have a family dinner every night? Though lifestyle shouldn’t be the sole reason that you choose a specialty, you should think about how you picture your life in 10-20 years. Are you okay with working 12 hour days and being on call overnight once or twice per week for the rest of your career? Are you okay with having to work some percentage of nights for the rest of your life? Once you complete surgery and OB/GYN night float third year of medical school, you should be better able to answer those questions.

    One incentive of psychiatry is that you can find part-time jobs, full-time jobs that are 9am-4pm M-F with no call, or even start your own practice and make your own schedule. Of course, if you enjoy working nights, you can still choose the psych ED! You have a lot of flexibility to choose whatever lifestyle you’d like in psychiatry.

     4. You love the brain

    Were you a neuroscience or psychology major as an undergrad and loved your courses? Did you always dream of becoming a neurosurgeon but then realized in medical school that surgery isn’t right for you? Psychiatry may be your calling then. People who choose psychiatry are often fascinated by the brain and how it controls everything we feel, think, and do. We are also in an exciting time for the field of psychiatry — with a lot of research being conducted to find new treatments and better understand the cause of the different mental disorders.

    5. Demand for psychiatrists

    Psychiatry is one of the most in-demand medical specialties right now. Do you have your heart set on living in NYC, San Francisco, or LA? You’ve got a great chance of finding a job as a psychiatrist if you want to live in a popular big city; whereas it might be more challenging for less in-demand specialties if the job market is already saturated with those physicians in your dream area.