Sixth formers and school students

This section is for sixth formers and school students who are interested in a career in psychiatry.

What do psychiatrists do?

Psychiatrists are doctors who look after patients with mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, personality disorders and schizophrenia.

As a doctor specialising in this area, you really could make a difference to someone’s life.

Psychiatry is an excellent career choice for anyone interested in how the mind works, and someone who enjoys working as part of a team.

There is real variety in psychiatry. Every day can be different and every person you see will be unique. Psychiatrists work across a person’s lifespan, from childhood to old age.

For more information, see What is psychiatry?

How do I become a psychiatrist?

All psychiatrists are qualified doctors, so first you need to get a place at medical school.

Academically, you will need good grades in A Levels or Scottish Highers. The specific grades and subjects you need vary between medical schools, but most will require chemistry. View a list of UK Medical Schools and their entry requirements.

The British Medical Association has general information and advice on becoming a doctor and what to expect at medical school.

Further information is available on How to become a psychiatrist.

I’m interested! What should I do next?

As well as studying hard so you can get the best possible qualifications, there are a few other things you can do:

Research and gain experience.

Speak to your teachers or careers advisors about careers in medicine and find out more about what being a psychiatrist involves. You will find a lot of this information in this section and in Why Choose Psychiatry? You might also find it useful to visit websites such as Medicine Calling, and maybe attending some of their events for people interested in careers in mental health.   

Work experience

Work experience is a great way to improve your knowledge and understanding of psychiatry and also:

  • It helps you understand if you really want to be a doctor
  • Gives you the opportunity to develop skills and qualities which are needed to become a psychiatrist e.g. communication, teamwork and problem solving.
  • Provides solid experience to offer on UCAS forms and application forms and helps improve prospects for entry to higher education.
  • Increases self-understanding, maturity, independence and self-confidence, especially in the workplace.
  • Improves your understanding of the work environment and employees’ expectations.

There are many hospitals throughout the UK which offer work experience to Year 10/11 students, sixth formers and medical students. A teachers & advisors guide to work experience within the NHS is available to help guide students in accessing these opportunities.

Contact your local hospital or mental health trust directly for further information.

Contact us

If you would like any further information regarding a career in psychiatry please email us.

Read more to receive further information regarding a career in psychiatry