Tag Archive: Spotlights: Psychiatry

Spotlight Interview: Matching in Psychiatry

 A Psychiatry Resident’s Perspective:  From an interview with Dr. Frazier a psychiatry resident at UC Irvine Medical Center in Irvine, California

Part of an interview series entitled, “Specialty Spotlights“, which asks medical students’ most burning questions to physicians of every specialty.  See what doctors from every specialty had to say about why they chose their specialty and how to match in their residency.


  • How competitive is the psychiatry match?

Overall, it is not a very competitive specialty.


  •  What must a student do to match well in psychiatry?

Mainly, you must show interest in the field. Let people know you’re interested when you’re in your rotation. Doing some research also helps you know if you like the field. Research may also help to get a good letter from someone at your university.


  • What are residencies looking for in a psychiatry applicant?
Solid letters of recommendation, a good personality (more important here than in many other specialties), to a lesser extent good board scores (not as important, but they will definitely help you!)


  • What should students look for in a psychiatry residency?

Look for a program that trains physicians in what you want to do. Are you interested in research? Choose a program that supports that. Are you interested in clinical work? Choose one that focuses more on that. Also, make sure you get along with the residents. I recommend an away rotation to your top school(s) if you can.


  • Do you have any advice on the application, letters of recommendation, personal statements, or how to rank programs?

Identify your letter writers early on. A few from psychiatry, one from medicine, one from family medicine or something else. For ranking, just choose the place that you want the most. Don’t try to game the system!


  • What do you wish you knew before application/interview season?  

Interviews are generally very laid back. Still prepare, but don’t stress them too much. Have a few questions for the interviewers.


  • What other advice do you have for students applying to psychiatry residency?

Again, identify letter writers early. They mean a lot for residency in general, but maybe even more for psychiatry. Other than that, enjoy your career!


Editor's Note: Applying for residency or preparing for your interviews? I highly recommend First Aid for the Match, The Successful Match: 200 Rules to Succeed in the Residency Match, and The Residency Interview: How To Make the Best Possible Impression .


Spotlight Interview: Why did you choose psychiatry?

A Psychiatry Resident’s Perspective: From an interview with a psychiatry resident at UC Irvine in Irvine, California

Part of an interview series entitled, “Specialty Spotlights“, which asks medical students’ most burning questions to physicians of every specialty.  See what doctors from every specialty had to say about why they chose their specialty and how to match in their residency.


  • What attracted you to Psychiatry?

I like the idea of working with the whole person. I feel like in psychiatry you address a person’s social, financial, and relationship concerns, which in my mind are the most important part of life.


  • Describe a Psychiatrist’s typical work day?

There are different fields in psychiatry, but what I’m interested in is private practice. I’ll probably end up splitting my days between therapy and medication management appointments. Therapy appointments usually go an hour, med management about 15-20 minutes. In those visits the person already has a therapist but consults a psychiatrist for medications.

You can also work in an inpatient setting in a hospital, work for the prison system, do telemedicine (something else I’m interested in), work with children, geriatrics, forensic, or almost anything else you want. I like the variety of the specialty.


  • What type of lifestyle can a Psychiatrist expect?  

Psychiatry has the big advantage of being a less demanding specialty. Depending on your working situation, you might be on call once a week or so. Even the psychiatry residency usually has weekends off! Most private practice psychiatrists work around 30 hours per week.


  • What is the average salary of a Psychiatrist?

Again depends on your situation, but you’ll see something like $200,000 as an average. In California, psychiatrists generally take cash only and charge around $300 an hour.


  • What is the job market like for Psychiatrist?

There’s a big need for psychiatrists. In particular, child psychiatry needs more people.


  • What can you tell us about Psychiatry Sub-specialties?

Child psychiatry: 2 extra years after residency (but you can eliminate your 4th year of adult and make it 5 years total for adult and child). There is more demand for this field. The salary is generally higher. The lifestyle is about the same for this and all the others.

Forensic psychiatry: 1 extra year. Harder to get a footing in this one, but pays very well once you do ($1000 per hour for testifying in court). Custody hearings can be part of this specialty.

Geriatric psychiatry: 1 year. Not too sure about the job market. I imagine it’s in high demand. Probably similar salary to adult.


  • What are the potential downsides of Psychiatry that students should be aware of?

It definitely takes a certain personality to do the job and do it well. You need to be able to separate yourself from some of the sad stories you’ll come across. You also need to be able to set boundaries well with people.


  • What else would you tell medical students who are considering Psychiatry?

It’s a great job and something to definitely consider. Some people say there’s not much medicine involved, which is as true as you make it. You can definitely go a more therapy-centered route if you prefer. But, if you love the medicine and research side, there’s plenty of opportunity for that as well. The brain isn’t very well understood.


Editor's Note: For more help choosing a specialty in medicine, I highly recommend one or both of these two great books. I found both very useful.