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Steps for Starting a Career in the Mental Health Sector

Mental health has become a priority for many for the past few years. Discussions on depression, anxiety, and other conditions have become more pervasive as social media has made it easier to open up about difficult issues affecting mental health. Right now, the demand for psychiatric services is growing and there is a rising need for mental health professionals, from occupational psychologists to mental health nurse practitioners, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. If you’re looking to start a career in the mental health sector, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Choose a relevant bachelor's degree

In the mental health industry, a bachelor's degree is the most basic requirement you need to start your professional journey. However, while you don't need a specific BA or BS to get certified and practice in the field, taking up related disciplines such as psychiatry, psychology, and pre-medical courses gives you a greater advantage. These areas offer a faster and easier way to get accepted to a medical school that offers the training you need to practice psychiatry.

2. Find the right medical school

After completing your bachelor's degree, you will need to enroll in a medical school and obtain a Doctor of Medicine degree if you are planning to work as a psychiatrist. In case you would like to take up other positions such as a counselor or family therapist, you could proceed to get a Master's degree in counseling or other related fields. When looking for the right institution for advanced training, consider your needs and priorities. If you live in Dallas but find it difficult to travel long distances for your classes, consider online MSN psych NP programs available in Texas.

3. Complete a residency program

In case you are planning to practice psychiatry in your community, you are required to complete a residency program just like any other medical professional should. This will give you a more immersive experience in an actual professional setting. For four years, you will be able to gain an in-depth look into the challenges and situations that actual practitioners face. This will also give you the opportunity to grow your network as you work under experienced psychiatrists who will serve as your mentors. You can also extend your education by completing a fellowship program under the American Psychiatric Association.

4. Obtain a professional license

You can't start your psychiatric practice in your area without obtaining a license from your local licensing authority. In Texas, aspiring candidates and practitioners licensed in other states will need to pass both a professional practice exam and a state jurisprudence exam. If you are practicing as a counselor, you will need to pass the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification on top of the Texas Jurisprudence Exam. After obtaining a license, you can then establish your practice in the local mental health sector.

As the need for psychiatrists and counselors continues to rise, you have ample opportunities to carve your path in this crucial sector. Follow these steps and make your way to a successful career in helping mental health patients recover.

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