Information for high school students
To become a psychiatrist you:
- study medicine and complete a medical degree (4-6 years)
- do on the job training in a hospital after your degree (1 year)
- enrol and complete specialist training in psychiatry (5 years) with RANZCP.
Pre-requisite subjects for medicine vary across medical schools. The most common ones are:
Entry into medicine
Entry into medicine is limited and competitive. But remember, if you don't get in the first time around, there are alternative pathways available.
If you're coming straight from secondary school, a medical course generally takes 5-6 years to complete.
Every university has different entry requirements. In general, you will need to do some (or all) of the following:
- finish your secondary school certificate with a high ATAR score (Australia) or a NCEA Level 3 (New Zealand)
- score highly in pre-requisite subjects
- sit an exam called the University Clinical Aptitude Test for Australia and NZ (UCAT)
- provide a curriculum vitae (CV)
- complete an interview.
This is where you enter medicine after completing a different undergraduate degree first. Graduate entry is a good option if you don’t meet the requirements to enter into medicine straight after secondary school. Graduate entry programs generally take 4-5 years to complete.
If you identify as Māori, or Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander you may be eligible for an alternative pathway. More about Indigenous pathways into medicine.
If you are from a remote or rural area, identify as a refugee or have other special circumstances, there may also be other entry options for you.
After completing your medical degree and internship, you can apply to begin psychiatry training with the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP).
The Fellowship program:
- takes a minimum of 60 months (5 years) to complete
- requires rotations in different areas of practice including child and adolescent, addiction, adult, forensic, Indigenous, old age and consultation–liaison psychiatry
- is supervised by a senior psychiatrist.
During training, you will be assessed on your work performance. You also need to pass five major assessments.
Skills and personal traits
A good psychiatrist is someone who is:
- compassionate, empathetic, patient, caring, respectful, adaptable
- good at observing, listening and communication
- understanding of other cultures’ attitudes to medical treatment
- able to communicate with people from various backgrounds and cultures
- able to manage their time and work well under pressure
- skilled at analysing and interpreting information
- a good decision maker and problem solver.
- research accredited medical schools in Australia and New Zealand
- make sure you’re taking the pre-requisite subjects for the medical schools you wish to apply to
- get information and advice about what it’s like to work as a doctor
- research the UCAT exam
- talk to your careers teacher about your plans
- do some work experience such as volunteering at a hospital or charity
- research the many different careers available in mental health