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How to Become a Psychiatrist in Canada in 6 Steps

Approximately 20% of Canadians experience one mental disorder throughout their lifetime. Thus, the need for psychiatrists in Canada. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who treats, diagnose, and prevents mental health disorders.

Becoming a psychiatrist requires several years of study and preparation, and we are here to lead you through how to become a psychiatrist in Canada.

So, in this article, you will learn about a psychiatrist, what a psychiatrist does, the skills needed to be a psychiatrist, and the steps to becoming a psychiatrist in Canada.

What is a Psychiatrist?

A psychiatrist is a doctor who has chosen to specialize in diagnosing, preventing, and treating mental health disorders. Specializing in the mental health field is a career that requires about 12 years of study (after post-secondary education). This career requires that you have a degree in medical course, certification as a psychiatrist, and a license to practice the occupation.

What Does a Psychiatrist Do?

It is the function of a psychiatrist to find out the type of mental illness a patient suffers by checking the physical and mental symptoms of the patient. Also, you will carry out different tests, psychological evaluations, and physical examinations on a patient. You may also refer the patient for further testing at the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Some of the examples of mental illness include

  • Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders.
  • Bipolar and related disorders.
  • Trauma- and stressor-related disorders.
  • Obsessive-compulsive and related disorders.
  • Depressive disorders.
  • Anxiety disorders.
  • Feeding and eating disorders.
  • Elimination disorders.
  • Sleep disorders.
  • Sexual dysfunctions.
  • Gender dysphoria.
  • Substance-related and addictive disorders.
  • As well as personality disorders.

Skills needed to become a psychiatrist in Canada

To become a successful psychiatrist in Canada, you need to have specific qualifications and skills to perform your responsibilities and duties effectively. Some of these skills include:

#1. Communication skills

You must have good oral and written skills to communicate effectively with other professionals and patients. In addition, you must know how to speak with family members of patients to gather information about the patient’s medical conditions. As well as to understand how to make patients feel comfortable around you.

#2. Problem-solving skill

Dealing with psychiatric patients can be tactical. So, you need problem-solving skills to be to deal with them. For example, you should be able to analyze test results and assess patients’ symptoms to provide the proper diagnosis and treatment. Also, you must be able to remember information quickly and critically think about solutions.

You will be dealing with medical software devices in most cases. So, you need to be familiar with these technologies to treat and diagnose patients.

#3. Clinical knowledge

To become a successful psychiatrist in Canada, you must be updated with the clinical theories and mental disorders to diagnose and treat patients. In addition, it is essential to know that learning does not stop with your degree. It would be best to continually learn on the job through conferences, seminars, and other events.

#4. Leadership skills

Often, a psychiatrist is the team leader of a team of specialists. So, you must be able to guide fellow psychologists, nursessocial workers, therapists, and other professionals to achieve a common goal.

#5. Active listening skills

The ability to listen actively is to listen without interrupting. As a psychiatrist, you must be able to identify when to ask questions and understand your patients’ emotions. Importantly, when you discuss with your patient, you must be fully engaged in the conversation while you listen attentively along the way. This will make them feel comfortable around you.

#6. Compassion

Often, patients need professionals who can express their feelings to feel connected. Therefore you must show empathy and prove that you understand them and are there to help.

You may also read: become a marriage commissioner in Canada

Types of psychiatrists in Canada

Without a doubt, there are different roles and specializations in psychiatry. And here where have the common ones.

#1. General psychiatrist

A general psychiatrist is a type of psychiatrist that treats different patients without a narrow focus. It is a type of career in psychiatry that does not specialize in any discipline.

#2. Geriatric psychiatrist

A geriatric psychiatrist is a type of psychiatrist that prevents, treats, and diagnoses mental health disorders that occur in old age. If you work as a geriatric psychiatrist, you will work with elderly patients that have conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Schizophrenia as well.

So, Suppose you are interested in this type of career in psychiatry. In that case, you must complete two years of additional residency training and join the Canadian Academy of geriatric psychiatry professional organization.

#3. Child and adolescent psychiatrist

This type of psychiatrist you can become in Canada to specialize in treating behavioral, mental, and emotional disorders in youths. These professionals are trained to communicate effectively with adolescents and children to make them feel better.

However, you must complete an additional two years of residency to specialize as a child and adolescent psychiatrist. Also, you can join the professional organization of the Canadian academy of child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

#4. Forensic psychiatrist

This type of psychiatrist deals with the study of mental health disorders that may result in criminal offenses. You will work with law enforcement officers to determine if a suspect can stand trial and treat mental health disorders in criminals.

The Canadian Academy of Psychiatry and the law is the Professional organization you can join under this specialization.

How to Become a Psychologist in Canada

How to Become a Psychiatrist in Canada in 6 Steps

If you are passionate about treating mental health disorders, here we have a step-by-step guide on becoming a psychiatrist in Canada.

Step one: Complete a college program or get a bachelor’s degree

Without a doubt, the first step to becoming a psychiatrist in Canada is to enroll in a college or university to earn a bachelor’s degree. You can major in any course, but you must have a solid foundation in physics, biochemistry, mathematics, and chemistry.

Step two: 2. Go to medical school

The next step to becoming a psychiatrist in Canada after completing a bachelor’s degree is to attend medical school. In the medical school, you attend, your statements, undergraduate records, and Medical College admission test scores will be reviewed to determine your eligibility for admission. Note that the medical test score is crucial for you to be admitted into a Canadian medical school (with exceptions for students in Quebec).

Attending medical school will take you four years of study, of which the first two years will be an intensive education about neuroscience, physiology and pharmacology, and social medicine. At the same time, the other two years will involve lectures on diagnosing, treating, and counseling patients.

Therefore, upon graduation from medical school, you’d become a doctor of medicine.

Step three: Complete your residency

You can apply for psychiatric residency in your final year of medical school, making an application to the Canadian resident matching service. This residency will enable you to choose the Healthcare facility you want to work in.

It usually takes about five years to complete a psychiatric residency program where you’ll be trained in forensic psychology, neurology, psychopharmacology, and chemical dependency.

Also, you may treat, prevent, and diagnose medical conditions such as developmental disabilities, depression, and substance abuse. When you complete your fellowship training or residency program, you earn a postgraduate medical education in psychiatry.

Step four: Get certification and license

You must get a psychiatry license to practice psychiatry. This license can be obtained from any new territory or province licensing authority. And for your certification, you may need to take the examination of the Royal College of physicians and surgeons.

So, to get the license, the licensing organization will assess your training and education to know if you are qualified to take the exam, after which she can proceed to register.

Step five: Join a professional organization

The next step to becoming a successful psychiatrist in Canada is to join a professional organization. For example, you can consider the Canadian Psychiatric Association, a national association for psychiatrists and other scopes.

You will be updated on essential journals, statement papers, and best practices of psychiatry. In addition to joining the National organization, you can also consider joining the psychiatric associations in your province.

Step six: Gain entry-level job

Without a doubt, with your certification and license intact, you can proceed to gain an entry-level job in hospitals, psychiatric homes, or any organization where your service is needed.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Are psychiatrists high in demand in Canada?

Yes, there’s a high demand for psychiatrists in Canada. But unfortunately, the high demand supersedes the supply. As a result, some parts of Canada have a shortage of psychiatrists in the Northern and rural areas.

Are psychiatrists happy in Canada?

Data has shown that psychiatrists are one of the happiest in their profession.

Is practicing psychiatry hard?

Because of the lengthy process of becoming certified in psychiatry, such as finishing undergraduate, attending medical school, and spending several years of residency, psychiatry is lengthy.

Do psychiatrists burn out?

According to data, two out of five psychiatrists have professional burnout. Hence, it is one of the most pressing issues for medicine.

What does a Psychiatrist get paid during residency?

Yes, graduate psychiatrists are paid during residency.


With the high demand for psychiatrists in Canada, becoming a psychiatrist is a viable career, and you wouldn’t stress out about getting a job. However, note that it will take several years before you get certified.

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