Twelve years of post-secondary education is required to become a psychiatrist in Canada.
Twelve years of post-secondary education is required to become a psychiatrist in Canada.

Those who are interested in practicing psychiatry in Canada must start planning their career early on, and many begin this process while still in high school. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has chosen to specialize in the treatment of mental disorders and requires around 12 years of post-secondary education. According to the Canadian Psychiatric Association, for an individual to practice psychiatry in Canada, they "must have a degree in medicine, a license to practise [sic] medicine in their province and specialist certification in psychiatry by either the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada or a provincial college." Approximately 12 years of post-secondary education are needed to become a psychiatrist.

Preparation While Still in High School

Study the prerequisite courses to enter a university science program while in high school. This might include completing Advanced Placement high school physics, chemistry, biology and math. Universities look for well-rounded students, so it's a great idea to participate in extracurricular activities. This might also be a good time to volunteer in a nursing home or local hospital to get a better sense of the medical field.

Bachelor's Degree

Enroll in a four-year undergraduate or bachelor's degree university program in science. In Quebec, the equivalent would be a premedical program in Cégep. Complete prerequisite courses for medical school, which include biology, physics, biochemistry and chemistry. This can typically be achieved within two years. Engage in extracurricular activities and medically related volunteering as these will be important aspects of your medical school application. Get to know some of your professors and work on building up your relationship, as their positive impression will help increase your odds of receiving impactful reference letters when applying to medical school.

Medical School

Verify if the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a requirement at the medical school of your choice; only 11 of the 17 Canadian medical schools require the MCAT. The Association of American Medical Colleges is the organization that prepares the MCAT exam, and the test is only offered in April and August of each year.

Apply to medical school, and consider applying to more than one, as competition is fierce. Most premed students start studying for the MCAT at least three months in advance. The application process usually requires reference letters and a series of three interviews. The six medical schools located in Ontario use the Ontario Medical School Application Service, which is a web-based application processing service, for the initial application. You will attend medical school for 4 years in order to obtain your M.D.. An M.D. is a university document--not a license--and does not allow the holder to practice medicine.

Postgraduate Residency

Apply for postgraduate psychiatric residency through the Canadian Resident Matching Service in your final year of medical school. Before you begin your residency, you must obtain your postgraduate education certification. Apply for this certification through the provincial medical authority of your residency program. You will practice as a psychiatric resident for five years where you will be trained in diagnosis, psychopharmacology, mental health treatment and other aspects of medical care in areas outside of your psychiatric specialization.

Final Steps and Certification

Pass the examination and fulfill the requirements set by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons or in Quebec by the Collège des médecins du Québec to obtain your medical psychiatric certification. Apply for a Certificate of Registration to practice psychiatry through the College of Physicians and Surgeons of your province. This certificate authorizes the holder to practice medicine, in this case psychiatry, in the province in which it was issued.