Important Steps to Becoming a Psychiatrist. Courses to take as an undergraduate, besides typical PSY courses (Intro, Research Methods, Stats):

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1 1. Take the right courses Important Steps to Becoming a Psychiatrist Courses to take as an undergraduate, besides typical PSY courses (Intro, Research Methods, Stats): Pre-med courses including Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, Math Personality Clinical Abnormal Psychology Lab course in clinical Physiological Psychology Neuroscience Learning Cognitive Psychology Lab course in Physiological or Cognitive Psychology Seminar in Physiological, Cognitive Psychology, or Clinical Psychology (Child Psychopathology, Measurement, Adult Psychopathology) 2. It is critical to do well in your courses Medical School selection committees often look at: overall GPA Psychology GPA minor (if you have one) GPA last two years in college GPA maintaining a high GPA from your freshman year on If you do not get an A or B in a course you should probably repeat the course.

2 3. Get involved in research The research experience you get does not have to be in the exact area as that which you hope to be involved in medical school. Get even more involved in research by doing a Senior Honors thesis or some other research where you can get your name on a conference presentation or journal publication. This kind of recognition is rare for an undergraduate and will really boost your standing when you apply to medical school. You can get involved in research as part of Independent study course and thus earn credit hours and possibly increase your GPA if it counts as a graded course or volunteer. An advantage to working in a lab is that you get to know a faculty member who can write you a strong letter of recommendation when you are ready to apply to medical. Given you need more than one letter of recommendation, it is probably best to work in two different labs as an undergraduate. 4. Do a medical-related internship By doing an internship you can again show your high level of motivation for medical school. This internship can be with an on-campus clinic/organization or off-campus clinic/organization dealing with medicine. 5. Develop critical skills There are a number of skills you can develop in addition to what you learn in classes and by conducting research--

3 computers, writing, and oral communication skills. 6. Get involved in extracurricular activities related to medicine Among others, you can volunteer at a medical hospital, clinic, or a setting that involves the sick or infirmed. This involvement demonstrates a high level of motivation and interest in medicine. Any involvement just adds to your overall record and makes you a more competitive applicant. 7. Be active in medical organizations This can include a Pre-Med club on campus. Once again, this involvement demonstrates a high level of motivation and interest in medicine. Any involvement just adds to your overall record and makes you a more competitive applicant. 8. Get work experience in a medical context if you can It is not critical that you are employed in a medical context (such as those listed above) as an undergraduate, but if you can get such a job that is a real bonus. 9. Shadow one or more doctors Shadowing gives you insight into the life of a medical professional. Demonstrates a high level of motivation and interest in a medical profession. 10. Understand the importance of the Medical College

4 Admissions Test (MCAT) What is the MCAT? If you are not clear about the MCAT, you must understand that this is the standardized exam that almost everyone who applies to medical school must take. It can be viewed as the medical SAT or ACT. Because it is a standardized exam that means everyone across the country and even in the world takes the same exam in the same way. Your MCAT scores are extremely important. Because the MCATs are a standardized test, the argument is that this score allows each graduate school selection committee to compare your score in an equal fashion against all other applicants. This gets even more important if you are going to a college that is perceived as less strong academically. For example, if you go to the University of Kentucky (U.S. News and World Report college ranking of 129) and get a high MCAT score and a student going to Harvard (U.S. News and World Report college ranking of 2) gets a low MCAT score your application will likely be viewed as quite strong. Another way MCAT scores can work for you is if you have only mediocre grades (e.g., a 3.20 overall GPA), but you score really high on the GREs your high score can, in effect, offset those modest grades. As far as preparing for the MCAT, some argue that you should begin preparing for the MCAT by your sophomore year. This would involve using MCAT practice books and software on a regular basis. You might also consider taking an MCAT course from a company like Princeton Review or Kaplan.

5 11. Interact with your Professors It is very important that you start to interact with Professors right away. This can occur by making contributions in class or just going up to your Professors and having a conversation about issues in the field. These interactions can lead to being able to work in a Professor s research lab, hearing about job opening that may be available in the Psychology department, and letters of recommendations for medical school. Remember, if a faculty member does not really know you or had you in one class, there is a lower likelihood that the Professor will agree to write a letter for you or knows you well enough to write a letter. There are two important things to keep in mind with regard to letters of recommendation. First, a short letter of recommendation from a faculty member who does not know you well can sometimes be worse than no letter at all. Second, It is almost always better to have a letter of recommendation from a full-time Professor than an Instructor. For better or worse, the former simply has higher status than the latter. Here is an article that discusses issues related to those above:

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