Pursuing a career in psychiatry is a challenging yet fulfilling journey. This career is fulfilling as it allows you to help others and improve their quality of life. This career will give you the qualification to access both mental and physical aspects of psychological problems. Professionals in this field must have high emotional intelligence. This is because they must be sympathetic, and committed to giving the best possible care.


A career in psychiatry is a branch of medicine where physicians specialise in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of behavioural, mental and emotional disorders. A psychiatrist is a medical specialist that specialises in diagnosing and treating mental health illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


If you want to become a psychiatrist, you must get familiarised with all the educational and clinical requirements that will enable you to have the competencies to succeed in this career.


I will walk you through the educational requirements and how to start a career in psychiatry.


Steps to Start a Career in Psychiatry

  1. Obtain an O’level Certificate

    You must have a minimum of credits in science subjects such as Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Biology and English Language.

  2. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

    This is one of the first steps educational requirements for pursuing a career in psychiatry. You should apply to an accredited university or a medical school to gain a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery(MBBS). This degree will provide you with the medical knowledge and skills you will need to pursue your career in psychiatry.

  3. Apply for Internships

    After obtaining your degree, you will be required to undertake a compulsory one-year internship in a hospital or healthcare facility. During your internship, you will receive hands-on experience in the hospital setting. This period is important for you to gain practical experience and get well-rounded as a medical practitioner.

  4. Complete Residency

    To pursue a career in psychiatry, you should enrol in a four-year residency program. This will include both instructional and practical learning. During this period, you will treat patients with mental illnesses in a real-world setting. Usually, you will work under the supervision of a more experienced psychiatrist.

  5. Obtain a License

    You must have a license before are permitted to practice as a psychiatrist. The license requirements vary by country. However, you will be required to pass an examination before you are awarded one.

  6. Choose an area of Specialisation

    You can specialise in a particular speciality in psychiatry.  You can choose to specialise in a specific area such as forensic psychiatry, addiction psychiatry or adolescent psychiatry. Additionally, you can get in-depth knowledge about the specialisation you which to follow.

  7. Develop Relevant Skills

    Besides having an excellent understanding of medicine, psychiatrists require a set of interpersonal skills such as emotional resilience, empathy and analytical thinking. Effective listening skills and the capacity to understand body language are also beneficial. You can practice developing these skills in your regular interactions with people.

  8.  Join Professional Associations

    You must join professional associations that include career experts and colleagues. You can learn from them, gain access to career opportunities and network with professionals.

  9. Earn Certifications

    This is not a compulsory requirement. However, you must gain certifications from a registered board in your region. These certifications can demonstrate your competence in psychiatry and improve your chances of getting a good job opportunity.

  10. Embrace Continuous Learning

    This career path requires that you keep up with your knowledge and skills competence in other to maintain your license. Additionally, it allows you to stay current on psychiatric studies so you can provide your patients with the best care possible.


Areas of Specialisation in Psychiatry

  1. Forensic Psychiatry: Forensic psychiatrists are physicians who apply their psychiatric knowledge to help the criminal justice system.
  2. Addiction Psychiatry: These are experts who specialise in treating mental health diseases associated with addiction. They work with patients who have behavioural drug abuse.
  3. Child Psychiatry: Child psychiatrists are medical experts that specialise in the study and treatment of mental, emotional, and behavioural health problems in children.
  4. Geriatric Psychiatry: They are psychiatrists that focus on treating mental health conditions for elderly people.
  5. Psychiatry for Community and Public Health: These psychiatrists specialise in the study and treatment of individuals with mental health disorders in the workplace, schools, courts and prison.
  6. Adolescent Psychiatry: They are medical specialists that treat mental, emotional and behavioural health issues in adolescent children. These experts are compassionate and provide medications to patients in schools, hospitals and community centres.


Schools in Africa that Offer Psychiatry


  1. University of Cape Town, South Africa
  2. Cairo University, Egypt
  3. University of Ibadan, Nigeria
  4. Makerere University, Uganda
  5. University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
  6. Ain Shams University, Egypt
  7. University of Pretoria, South Africa
  8. Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria
  9. University of Nairobi, Kenya
  10. University of Lagos, Nigeria
  11. Jimma University, Ethiopia
  12. University of Nigeria
  13. Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria
  14. University of Ilorin, Nigeria
  15. Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technolgy, Ghana
  16. Sohag University, Egypt
  17. University of Calabar, Nigeria
  18. Rhodes University, Egypt
  19. Tunis University, Tunisia
  20. University of Botswana, Botswana


Places to Work as a Psychiatrist


  1. Public Hospitals
  2. Private Hospitals
  3. NGOs & Mental Health Advocacy Organizations
  4. Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Centers
  5. Private Practice
  6. Academic Institutions


Pursuing a career in psychiatry has several advantages, including personal and professional fulfilment. It brings an opportunity to have a good impact on well-being, career advancement and experience in research and leadership roles. Furthermore, the growing demand for psychiatrists makes it a promising field. Psychiatrists are among the highest-paid medical specialists. They also have the flexibility to pursue numerous areas of interest within the field.


Good luck!

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