Psychologists have completed undergraduate work followed by several years of postgraduate studies in order to receive a doctorate degree (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) in psychology. Graduate psychology education includes study of a variety of subjects, notably statistics, social psychology, developmental psychology, personality theory, psychological testing (paper and pencil tests to help assess personality characteristics, intelligence, learning difficulties, and evidence of psychopathology), psychotherapeutic techniques, history and philosophy of psychology, and psychopharmacology and physiological psychology. After the coursework, a year is spent in a mental health setting providing psychotherapeutic care and psychological testing under the supervision of a senior psychologist. Psychologists must demonstrate a minimum number of hours (usually around 1,500) before eligibility to sit for state psychology licensure exams.

The Psychiatric Clinical Nurse Specialists or the Nurse Practitioners

Professional nurses, prepared with a minimum of a baccalaureate degree in nursing and advanced practice nurses, prepared at the master's level, work with alcoholic and drug abuse patients. The baccalaureate degree in nursing most often works with patents in an inpatient setting and may or may not be certified in alcohol addiction, depending on the requirement of the agency. The professional nurse provides the direct care for the patient 24 hours per day. Both the nurse practitioner and the clinical nurse specialist work in both inpatient and outpatient settings; however, they are more frequently involved in community-based care. All three are schooled in general nursing, including psychiatric nursing, and have studied alcoholism. The focus of the nurse practitioner's practice is on the physical health of the alcoholic or drug abuser. The nurse practitioner conducts physical assessments and prescribes medications, as well as monitors the patient's response to the medications. The clinical nurse specialist's focus is on the mental health of the patient and the family. The clinical nurse specialist conducts mental health assessments and mental status exams, facilitates groups, and works with both the patient and family to meet their mental health needs. All advanced practice nurses, both the clinical nurse specialist and the nurse practitioner, are certified by the American Nurses Association Credentialing Center, after receiving their master's degree from an accredited college or university. All advanced practice nurses receive ongoing clinical supervision during their course of study. In many states, both the state board of medicine and the state board of nursing license the nurse practitioner, whereas the clinical nurse specialist is not under the jurisdiction of the board of medicine. The state board of nursing licenses all nurses.

American Nurses Association the American Nurses Association is a professional organization of nurses to advance the profession of nursing.


Psychiatrists are medical doctors with specialized training in psychiatry. They have completed undergraduate work followed by 4 years of medical school. Medical education is grounded in basic sciences of anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, microbiology, histology, immunology, and pathology, followed by 2 years of clinical rotations through specialties that include medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, family practice, and psychiatry (as well as other elective clerkships). During this time, medical students must pass two examinations toward licensure. After graduation from medical school, physicians have a year of internship that includes at least 4 months in a primary care specialty such as medicine or pediatrics and 2 months of neurology. After internship, physicians must take and pass a third exam toward licensure in order to be eligible for licensure (and subsequently practice) in any state. Psychiatrists in training have 3 more years of specialty training in residency, the successful completion of which makes them eligible for board certification. After residency, many psychiatrists pursue further training in a fellowship that can last an additional 2 years. Such fellowships include child and adolescent psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry, consultation- liaison psychiatry, addiction psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, and research. To become board certified, psychiatrists take both a written and an oral examination. Certain psychiatry specialties also have a board certification process. Board certification is not a requirement to practice and may not be obtained immediately on completion of residency, although many hospitals and insurance companies do require physicians to be board certified within a specified number of years in order to treat patients.

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