Psychology or Psychiatry?

<p>Hi everyone,
So I'm interested in majoring in Psychology and going on to grad school to get my PhD in either Neuropsychology or Clinical Psychology, however I'm not really sure whether it's right for me or not.
While I like Psychology I especially like to focus on the more scientific aspects and medical causes of behaviour, Psychology is more of a soft science and I wasn't sure if it would fit my interest in the more scientific side of the mind and the way people act the way they do, especially in abnormal Psychology. Would I still be able to do more science intense work or is Psychology too soft of a science for that? Neuropsychology focuses more on how the mind functions physically and the nervous system but I don't know if that's the right path for me?</p>

<p>On the other hand I thought about Psychiatry but I'm against the use of Psychiartric drugs as treatment and so I was wondering do all Psychiatrists prescribe drugs and are they required to? Also do they work in research settings if so will that field expect to grow? I read Experimental psychology isn't supposed to.
So what I'm basically wondering is, would it be pointless to become a Psychiatrist, or would it be a better choice than Psychology if you're interested in the more scientific/medical treatments and studies? </p>

<p>I want to work in a hospital or research university setting. </p>

<p>PS I'm only in 11th grade so I still have a lot ahead of me, and time to discover what I want/should do.</p>

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<p>:-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)
Bump</p>

<p>You are describing a dilemma I faced myself when I was in college many years ago. I started off aiming for medical school and psychiatry and ended up choosing graduate school and clinical psychology. While some psychiatrists end up becoming researchers, training for psychiatry is essentially like any other medical school training and includes either little or no (usually the latter) emphasis on doing this type of research. Those who do research learn to do so by seeking specialized training after obtaining their degrees. Realistically, most of the clinical work psychiatrists do involves prescribing psychotropic medications, and much of the research in which psychiatrists are involved examines the efficacy of these medications. There are certainly psychiatrists who end up doing basic research, but medical school, per se, is not designed to directly prepare them for doing so.</p>

<p>However, by definition a Ph.D. is a research degree and Ph.D. programs (as contrasted with Psy.D. programs, which involve research training but focus more on the applied side of things) are defined by combining research training and dissertation work with clinical training. In my day, programs had pretty much of an equal split between their research and clinical components, although some placed a slightly greater emphasis on one or the other. I'm not sure how true this is nowadays, as I believe there is much more variation in the training received by clinical psychologists with regard to the relative emphasis on research versus clinical requirements. If you want to exclusively do research specifically on brain-based behaviors combined with a clinical component with the same focus, a Ph.D. in neuropsychology would probably be a better bet than clinical psychology. If your interest is more in basic research and the clinical component is of only limited interest, a Ph.D. in physiological psychology might make even more sense.</p>

<p>In practice, psychologists and psychiatrists often end up with lots of overlap in their career paths both research-wise and clinically. Since you are only in high school, you should wait and see what you end up enjoying most when you are in college. After all, you may discover other areas of study that are of even greater interest than those to which you've been exposed thus far and which make much clearer the direction you should take. You should choose whatever post-graduate training entails the most direct route to doing what you love, rather than viewing this element of your education simply as a means to an end.</p>

<p>Thank you sooooooooooooo much Map! That was very, very helpful! :-)
I'lll remember this. </p>

<p>Thanks again!,
-Sarah</p>

<p>lilac, map gave a terrific summary. I am a practicing psychologist, clin psych PhD. It is too early for you to make decisions, enjoy undergrad college, explore basic science and humanities, the best preparation for psychology or psychiatry is to gain an understanding of the human condition via literature, for example Shakespeare or Aeschylus, via biology, economics, etc. Dont set your mind against psychotropic meds, they have their uses, limited they may be (read todays Wall St J for a great article on the new DSM 5).</p>

<p>Be realistic, to get tenured positions in physiol psych, if you want to do basic research, is very difficult. Clin psychologists are being outcompeted by social workers and counselors, it is a difficult marketplace, psychiatrists fare slightly better but it is also a difficult specialty to find positions in if you want to work in an urban setting. Anyway, all this is premature, dont commit until you have been in college at least 2 years, and to keep MD option open, make sure you take the chem and biol courses that are requirements for medical school.</p>

<p>Dont overlook the possibility of internal medicine or neurology if you enjoy helping people and their illnesses.</p>

<p>Ramaswami- Thank you too! :)
I kind of felt it is too early however my school keeps encouraging us to think about it and get a good idea of some fields we might want to study and careers we may want to consider. But yes I agree, it is rather early I mean I'm not even finished with High School!
I don't really care about working in an Urban setting, however I would like to stay in my current state or at least my current region. </p>

<p>I'm really, really worried though and upset with myself. I didn't take very intense math courses. I took Earth Science and bio and got A's. I'm now in Intergated Chem and Physics (kind of a big mistake) It's basically a more laid back class that combines the 2 and briefly goes over them, not as in depth as a full year of either one. I wish I would have taken just a full year of Physics maybe Chem, I kind of like Physics better or maybe that's because my Chem teacher wasn't the best.
I'm also only in College Prep Math, you you say that's where I need to be? My Dad told me it doesn't matter you can still go into a Science related field you just have to take extra classes in college. I was wondering maybe I could take extra high school chem courses over the summer or something? I'd need to ask my course advisor.
It's also been rough for me going to an intense, competitive, top high school where it's a norm to go to the Univeristy in High School, and take AP courses in middle school!
I missed about a year and a half of Middle school due to a very unexpected medical condition. After going through treatment I'm back and better but it still left me with a year and a half gap. I did a lot trying to get caught up and surprisingly I'm doing well for missing so much school.
I'm very dedicated and determined to fulfilling my dreams, I know I can too. Look at Lance Armstrong after being diagnosed with cancer and going through all that Chemotherapy he got back on his bicycle and won the Tour De France!</p>

<p>So any tips on what to do to get back on track for a science intense field? Should I take extra classes now, will I need to in college? Do you still think it's possible for me to get into a hard science field and studying Biomedical Engineering, Internal Medicine, Neurology or something like that? Would it be a better option than a soft science for what I want to do? I know this is probably a better question for my course advisor or someone that actually knows me (not random people online, LOL) but I'm just worried I'm not on track coruse wise for a hard science related career. </p>

<p>Any stories, words of wisdom or tips are much appreciated.</p>

<p>Thank you all soooo much! :)</p>

<p>Map and ramaswami, I thought there was a big shortage in adolescent Psychologists. I thought between geriatric and adolescent issues psychology was a growing field, fortunately or more like unfortunately I guess? Not true?</p>

<p>Psychology is not a growing field in the sense of economic prospects. There may be a continuing need in nursing homes for geriatric psychologists but not adolescent ones. The greater need is for psychiatrists in rural areas. Dont go into psychology.</p>

<p>I'm a child & adolescent psychiatrist. I started out in internal medicine and transferred to a residency program in psychiatry. There is a tremendous shortage of child psychiatrists in this country in all settings, urban, suburban, rural, you name it. A very small percentage of child psychiatrists are full time academics. Their research is in a variety of areas. It would be considered malpractice to not prescribe medications for certain psychiatric illnesses. </p>

<p>There is a world of difference between choosing to get a doctoral degree in some area of Psychology, whether it be clinical, experimental, physiological, or whatever, and in attending medical school. Psychiatrists are physicians first. Most psychiatrists enter clinical practice after they finish their residencies and fellowships. A relatively small percentage are full-time academicians, and an even smaller percentage are involved in full-time research, either bench, translational, or clinical.</p>

<p>Your high school course selection will in no way be a disadvange or inhibit your ability to pursue a pre-medical course of studies as an undergraduate. You will have to take the usual science and math requirements for med school (biology, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, calculus [usually], biochemistry. Some med schools want more undergraduate science courses like embyology, genetics, or molecular biology, but most don't. You will either have aptitude for these courses or not. You don't have to even major in a science to meet the requirements for medical school (I majored in Psychology).</p>

<p>You have a lot of time to think about your career choices. My advice is to take a well-rounded curriculum that includes the humanities, arts, and social sciences. You'll figure it all out when you need to.</p>

<p>Excuse my ingnorance - A Psychiatrist is an MD? A psychologist has a phd or an MA. What is the difference between a psychologist and a clinical psychologist? Is there a shortage of adolescent psychologists as well, or is it only at the psychiatrist level?
Thanks.</p>

<p>"Excuse my ingnorance - A Psychiatrist is an MD?"</p>

<p>No need to appologize. Actually many people do not understand the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist. A psychiatist is a medical doctor who graduates from medical school and then completes a 4-year residency program in Psychiatry. If he/she wants to specialize, he/she can further complete a fellowship program (for example, child & adolescent psychiatry, which is a 2-year fellowship). </p>

<p>Psychologists generally complete a graduate PhD doctoral program in one or more area(s) of the discipline. I've not heard folks who have completed a masters degree program in a "psychology" discipline refer to themselves as a "psychologist." The length of a doctoral program can vary, but is usually in the 4-7 year range. Clinical psychologists (see below) must also complete a one-year internship program in order to be licensed to clinically practice. I'll leave it to the psychologists who posted on this thread to go into more detail.</p>

<p>The are many disciplines within psychology, including clinical psychology (these are the professionals who conduct therapy with patients and also perform psychological testing of all sorts); social psychology; organizational psychology; experimental psychology; physiological (or biological) psychology, school psychology, etc. </p>

<p>Hope this is helpful.</p>

<p>OK, one last question, I swear. Psychology is listed as one of the most popular majors at practically every school we've looked at. It certainly is an interesting subject, but I'm concerned that there is an abundance of students with bachelors degrees in psychology. What do most of them do? I personally know two, well I know their parents, and they are both are not working and deciding on next course of action and almost a year has gone by since they graduated. It would seem that similarly to social work, you need an advanced degree to work in the field. I am thinking for my S it isn't a great choice unless he is committed to going to grad school or med school.<br>
All right one more?- do you receive a BA or BS?
I know the purpose of a liberal arts education isn't to train you for a certain career, but you like to think there will be a job somewhere down the way that will make it all worthwhile.
Thanks, I appreciate your responses.</p>

<p>"All right one more?- do you receive a BA or BS?
I know the purpose of a liberal arts education isn't to train you for a certain career, but you like to think there will be a job somewhere down the way that will make it all worthwhile.
Thanks, I appreciate your responses."</p>

<p>I'm not sure how to answer your questions. I received a B.A. in psychology. I then went on to medical school. Many folks major in psychology as undergraduates and then go on to pursue any number of different types of graduate degrees. </p>

<p>I guess any liberal arts undergraduate major, whether it be sociology, the humanities, or the arts, doesn't really prepare you for a specific occupation. I am a big proponent of a broad liberal arts education unless you know for certain that you are going to pursue a specific career, for example, engineering or business. </p>

<p>I read somewhere recently that over 50 percent of kids graduating college now return to live with their parents. This was not the case when I graduated college 30-plus years ago. But the economy is horrible, the job market impossible, and times are very different.</p>

<p>idinct, the title psychologist is legally protected, only PhDs can use it except some in certain settings like MAs as school psychologists. There is not a great need for adolescent psychologists, at that age usually the school psychologist and MD come into play. A shorter alternative to PhD is the PsyD, usually 3 to 4 years, called a lesser doctorate, does not involve a dissertation. Job market for personality, social psych etc is very poor since they are limited to academia. Very difficult to get into clinical PhD programs hence many undergrad psych majors go for MSW. The MSW will allow clinical work, they are poorly prepared to do it though, they are very popular in most mental health settings, cheaper to hire, can get Medicare reimbursement, etc. Most psych PhDs get employed in comm mental health settings, the VA is a big employer too or in private practice.</p>

<p>Undergrads in the US study psych a lot, it is a period of self inquiry and neatly overlaps with the study of psych. In India, we study the sciences, psych is a feminized field in India, as it has become in the US. I studied physics and math as undergrad in India, serves me well since I view clinical work with the skepticism of a scientist and do not yield to every so called evidenced based treatment fad. Due to high rates of divorce, emphasis on happiness and fulfilment and meaning, American youth get attracted to the study of psychology, rest of the world it is not all that popular.</p>

<p>I have a slightly different perspective than ramaswami. And there was a Ph.D. vs Psy.D thread recently that is worth reading so don't need to repeat its content.</p>

<p>What I do agree with is that the Clinical psych programs are VERY hared to get into, and the internships are even harder these days. Many Psy.D students have a tough time getting internships, especially APA approved internships. </p>

<p>What I do not agree with is most of the rest of the above post, beginning with (a) that child/adolescent psychologists are not in need (that is incorrect). The school psychologists do not provide much in the way of "treatment". That is not their role. Their role is largely to evaluate students to see if they qualify for services within the school system. Some may provide brief counseling or group/social skills training, etc, but they do not substitute for private practice psychologists providing treatment for children, adolescents and families. </p>

<p>Secondly, most psychologists are not working in community MH settings or VA settings. Some do, but the majority do not. While some of the subspecialties like social psychology, physiological psych, etc will not lead to a clinical degree nor the internship required for private/clinical practice (so would more likely lead to an academic type career), many, if not most licensed psychologists/clinical or counseling psychologists (some states have a title act, and protect the title of psychologist, some states have a practice act, and protect/limit the practice of psychology) are in private practice or have a hospital-based practice. Social workers have a limited scope of practice, and do not do testing (psych, neuropsych, or LD evals).</p>

<p>There are many fascinating aspects of study in psychology, and can be used in many careers-- eg forensic careers, industrial/organisational careers, life coaching, career counseling, career placement, etc. If you like it, pursue it! It can be very rewarding. I have been a clinical psychologist/neuropsychologist (Ph.D.) for 30 years. It is a very exciting field.</p>

<p>jym, I never said adolescent psychologists are not in need. I said, there is not a great need. I meant it in the sense that the greater need is for adolescent psychiatrists. Relative to the adult clinical psychology track, the child clinical PhD programs produce fewer psychologists. Also, I meant to say that quite a few psychologists practice in comm mental health, may or may not be the majority, but my point was that such settings offer employment. You seem to be nitpicking. Like you I mentioned private practice, and I suspect this might be the biggest employment area</p>

<p>I didnt have time to go into the forensic psych etc. neuropsych is a small employment area, forensic is growing but still not very significant. I would venture to add that I/O is a very small area of growth, if growth at all, it is stagnant.</p>

<p>Like you I have been practising for 25 years and I am a trained forensic clinical psychologist.</p>

<p>jym, I am also baffled. You say that you do not agree with most of the rest of my post but other than disagreeing with me regarding whether the majority of psychologists work in comm mental health you do not say what you specifically disagree with. Please note I said school psychologists come into play, I did not say they are treating or good at treating, I am merely addressing employment prospects. You seem to agree with me re the MSW. Career placement and coaching have very poor prospects. APA exaggerates these areas but there are few jobs. Like surgery on the face for which plastic surgeons, ENTs, ophthalmalogists, even neurosurgeouns compete, job coaching has too many professionals vying for it.</p>

<p>With terrible reimbursement rates and competition from social workers and licensed professional counselors clinical psychology is not an exciting area. Here, I respectfully disagree. But thanks for contributing to the debate and congratulations on your long service to the field.</p>

<p>Wasn't nitpicking, ramaswami. Perhaps I misread what you wrote, but the way your post read, I felt it did not portray the field and the need as I see it. And where I live child/adolescent psychologists are in great need, and few psychologists work in CMHCs. </p>

<p>Sorry, I don't have time to banter this. Agree that all mental health folks, from masters level folks on up, including the MDs, are getting hammered by the insultingly low reimbursement rates. Thats another conversation altogether!</p>

<p>Have a few minutes to clarify, which will hopefully help. My perspective is more in line with what map eloquently posted in post #4. I do not see clinical psychologists as being out-competed by masters level therapists, and I do see a continuing need for both adolescent and geriatric psychologists. The issue here is the reimbursement for services, which is a very important, but indirect part of the conversation as it relates to the OPs question. Yes, healthcare and reimbursement issues are wreaking havoc with both training sites (eg the "incident to" medicare rules prevent clinical settings from billing for services performed by psychology interns, who must perform these as part of their training.. what a double bind) Anyway, agree that the insurance industry has been unkind to practitioners across the board-- at all levels, and it has been a challenge to deal with. </p>

<p>That said, I used to feel that if I had it to do over again, I might not have picked the path I did, but in this economic climate I no longer feel that way. I have watched what this awful economic climate has done to many of my friends, their spouses, and even members of my own family. But a one of my colleagues said, we get hired and fired by the hour. While I have had challenges with insurance carriers refusing to pay for servies as covered under the patients benefit plan (again, a story for another time) and I have watched reimbursement rates decline, I am still successfully employed in a field I love, referrals remain high (though not all referrals follow through) and am able to help others. This is all good. </p>

<p>So to the OP, yes, if neuroscience/neuropsychology interests you, pursue it. See if you can visit the office of a neuropsychologist of visit an inpatient clinic. Like you, I knew what I wanted to do when I was in HS. I volunteered at community mental health facilities (I encourage you to do this), double majored in psychology and biopsychology (as it was called then) in college, and went on to get a PhD in Clinical Psychology, with specialty in neuropsychology. Has the field changed in 30 years? Absolutely. But while the reimbursement changes have not been for the better, the knowledge, research and advances in the field of neuropsychology have been very positive.</p>

<p>I hope you will stay excited about the field, will get inolved in your state and the national APA organizations (you can do this even as a student), and hopefully can work to make a change in the reimbursement stranglehold we face, and make a difference in our field, to keep it as viable as it deserves to be. </p>

<p>If you want to stay outside the control of third party payors, then do consider a specialty that deals with health and wellness, workplace issue/stress, conflict resolution, teambuilding, employee assistance or employee selection issues. These are all important resources psychologists bring to corporate america. And as our population ages, geriatric issues are important and this is a growing field. Again, lets hope it is a field others see the value in and will pay for.</p>

<p>Good luck, and stay positive!</p>