How Do I Become a Military Psychiatrist?

Jessica F. Black

Military psychiatrists must be familiar with the medications that are available for treating anxiety related disorders.
Military psychiatrists must be familiar with the medications that are available for treating anxiety related disorders.

To become a military psychiatrist you will need to complete the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) or a similar college-based military training program, a bachelor's degree program, and medical school. There are several ways to accomplish these goals and you may want to discuss your options with a military recruiter and a college adviser. Regardless of which route you choose, it may take up to 12 years of education and training to become a military psychiatrist. In general, the primary duties of someone in this profession are similar to those of a civilian psychiatrist except you will be trained to handle mental disorders commonly associated with warfare.

Many countries retain military psychiatrists who provide essential mental health services to military personnel.
Many countries retain military psychiatrists who provide essential mental health services to military personnel.

The most common path to become a military psychiatrist is to complete your ROTC and bachelor's degree program before participating in at least four years of active duty in a branch of the military. A designated amount of active duty may provide you with the eligibility to receive funding through the military for medical school. This option is based on the age requirements of most branches in the military and enlisting prior to medical school may allow you to meet the age requirement for your chosen branch of service. After the four years of active duty, you should attend medical school and complete your psychiatry residency before re-enlisting in the armed forces.

Military psychiatrists work with soldiers dealing with issues related to combat experience.
Military psychiatrists work with soldiers dealing with issues related to combat experience.

A second option is similar in the fact that you will need to complete your bachelor's degree program and ROTC before applying for the Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program (AFHPSP). Due to the competitive nature of this program, you should ultimately display academic excellency in your undergraduate studies, have a bachelor's degree with a medical focus, and attain remarkable scores on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). Only a designated number of people are selected for the AFHPSP, and this program is designed to pay all medical school and living expenses in exchange for terms of commitment. Most of these programs require that you participate in a designated amount of active duty each year and commit to a lengthy amount of service after you become a military psychiatrist.

A military psychiatrist may perform case management on an ongoing basis.
A military psychiatrist may perform case management on an ongoing basis.

Once you become a military psychiatrist, you could be responsible for examining, diagnosing, and treating military personnel and family members. You may be required to have extensive knowledge on mental disorders caused by warfare and the effects that they have on family members of enlisted personnel. Years of service required can vary depending on the branch of military that you join.

Many military psychiatrists have also served as active duty soldiers.
Many military psychiatrists have also served as active duty soldiers.

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