Psychosomatic Medicine specializes in the complex diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders and symptoms in patients. According to the American Psychiatric Association, these professionals treat patients with medical problems that are amplified and made worse as a result of their emotional state. The balancing act that comes with treating these patients falls on the shoulders of a Psychosomatic Psychiatrist.
What is a Psychosomatic Medicine Psychiatrist?
Psychosomatic Medicine physicians hold either a (Doctor of Medicine) or D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) and are responsible for diagnosing and treating both physical and mental symptoms and disorders. Psychosomatic medicine is one of the most intricate and complicated psychiatric specialties and requires an exceptional skill set.
It is crucial that Psychosomatic Medicine Psychiatrists be able to aid in restricting the advancement and decreasing emotional issues that contribute to a patient’s condition.
In everyday practice, Psychosomatic Psychiatrists may be responsible for:
Understanding the Educational Path to Become a Psychiatrist
A medical doctorate degree, psychiatric residency and Psychosomatic Medicine fellowship are the primary educational requirements for a profession as a board-certified Psychosomatic Psychiatrist. However, the educational path begins by receiving a Bachelor's Degree from an accredited college or university.
Psychosomatic Psychiatry is a highly complex field of study; as such, a successful candidate will possess strong skills in math and science, written and verbal communications and a comprehensive understanding of how emotions affect the physical body
Strong interpersonal skills and specialized training in the social, psychological and medical aspects of the human mind are also requirements for becoming a successful Psychosomatic Psychiatrist. This skill set is often the focus of core educational course study while in college.
Additionally, a Psychosomatic Psychiatrist needs to develop an expertise in treatment options, theories of therapy and the prescription/administration of medications.
Educational Path of a Psychiatrist
Earn a bachelor's degree.
A bachelor’s degree is the first higher-education step toward becoming a Psychosomatic Psychiatrist. Although candidates complete a broad range of undergraduate majors, students should complete the courses the American Association of Medical Colleges found most medical schools require as prerequisites: biology, physics, and chemistry, along with written and oral communication course study.
During their undergraduate degree, students wanting to gain an edge in the competitive medical school application pool would benefit from taking career and advanced education oriented steps like joining pre-medical organizations, completing community service at mental health centers, shadowing physicians and studying for the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test). Before graduating, a candidate should apply to medical school. Medical school is a four-year process, leading to an advanced degree in the medical field, either a M.D. or D.O.
Complete a medical school program
During medical school, future Psychosomatic Psychiatrists spend their first year primarily in the classroom absorbing knowledge in areas like anatomy, histology, pathology, biochemistry, psychology, ethics and preparing for Objective Structured Clinical Exams. The second year, while still in the classroom, is more clinically focused. Third and fourth year students will move into clinical rotations and gain exposure to a wide range of potential specializations, including psychiatry.
Complete a Residency
Following medical school, graduates pursuing psychiatry should elect to complete their four-year residency in the specialty. Psychiatry residents need to complete 36 months of additional training after the first year of general residency, as required by the American Psychiatric Association. These three years focus on specific training areas, such as psychopharmacology, substance abuse and cognitive behavioral therapy.
Complete a Fellowship in Psychosomatic Medicine
A one-year, post-residency fellowship in the subspecialty of Psychosomatic Medicine is essential for doctors aiming to enter the field. There are now more than 50 ACGME-accredited Psychosomatic fellowships. When searching for a fellowship, physicians should ensure the program they are pursuing is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and will both qualify and prepare them to sit for the subspecialty examination. Solid fellowships will include instruction and experience in psychiatric consultation, research, biopsychosocial factors and advanced consultation and assessment.
Pass Sub Specialty Exam in Psychosomatic Medicine
Upon successful completion of a Psychosomatic Medicine fellowship, all psychiatrists must submit an application for examination. Once reviewed by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology credentials department, candidates are permitted to take the exam. After passing the exam, candidates become diplomats and start the “Maintenance of Certification” process, adhering to the Board's requirements for continued education.
Psychosomatic Psychiatrists should be aware that board certification, which is necessary for legal practice, must be renewed every 10 years. Continued education is required in order to renew certification, and credits for the psychiatric field must meet specific standards. For more information about continuing education requirements, review the ABPN website.
Understanding the Career Path of Becoming a Psychosomatic Psychiatrist
Psychosomatic Psychiatrists work in a variety of settings. The two most common fields include primary care and outpatient specialty clinics. They often work in private practice, but are frequently part of larger treatment teams. These medical specialists also work in inpatient hospitals and surgical settings, education, research and even policy development and virtual capacities.
Professional organizations can be used as a means for networking, community service, think tanks, research, continued education and specialized learning. Psychosomatic Psychiatrists should consider joining the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine.
For general psychiatry, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) dominates the market with a membership of more than 36,000. It is currently the world’s largest professional organization focused on psychiatry.
Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not track data for the Psychosomatic Medicine subspecialty, the mean annual wage for psychiatrists in general is $182,660.While a 2013 Medscape report found average compensation for psychiatrists was higher the pediatrics, internal medicine and family medicine, it still ranked in the lower third of physician incomes by specialty.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, Psychosomatic Medicine will play a critical role as healthcare reform continues, causing growth in the field. According to research by AMN Healthcare Company Merritt Hawkins, psychiatry is one of the most in demand medical professions. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that 1 in 4 adults suffer from a mental disorder each year.
When it comes down to learning how to become a Psychosomatic Psychiatrist, the best skills a candidate can have is infusing the unique ability to look at the big picture. It's quite often a challenge for many new medical students to focus on multiple treatment options – but, in this profession – it's a required skill set.