DS1 wants to become a psychiatrist yet isn't good at science.

(23 Posts)

He planned to take A level english, history, psychology and either maths or sociology. I've just looked up which A levels are needed in order to take the degree and it says at least 1 science.

He's been unsure of what to aim for and this has put a spanner in the works.

Any advice?

goshhhhhh Sat 08-Mar-14 16:09:38

Does he want to be a psychiatrist or a psychologist - they are quite different in terms of study?

Psychiatrist he says? You need to be a doctor for that don't you? would psychologist be any easier to do without science?

chemenger Sat 08-Mar-14 16:13:53

Isn't psychiatry a specialism of medicine? So he would be looking at medicine degrees, which do require science(s). Psychology, if that's what you mean, is a science so it isn't surprising they expect a science A level, they usually like to see maths as well (lots of statistical analysis).

I think he needs to have a good talk with someone at his school.

goshhhhhh Sat 08-Mar-14 16:20:00

Psychology does not necessarily need a science A leveL - maths will help. There is a fair ampunt of stats. Also if he wants to do it as a career he will need to get a v good degree & be prepared to do work experience & further study. It is v competitive to get into. (not sure why).

MabelSideswipe Sat 08-Mar-14 16:20:51

I did a social psychology degree with only maths GCSE grade c. I coped it was fine. In order to be a psychologist he would need to take a futher clinical postgraduate qualification so he needs to know its a long haul.

MabelSideswipe Sat 08-Mar-14 16:22:08

Its competitive because it is very interesting but I bailed after my degree because the money at entry and for long aftetwards is not great.

JeanSeberg Sat 08-Mar-14 16:35:33

Thanks so much everyone.

Thanks for the link JeanS.

JeanSeberg Sat 08-Mar-14 16:36:59
JeanSeberg Sat 08-Mar-14 16:38:13

In fact The Student Room is a good place for lots of study-related questions.

Is he Y11 at the moment?

AllMimsyWereTheBorogroves Sat 08-Mar-14 17:16:30

To get onto a medical degree he would need:

1. Top GCSE grades in all his core academic subjects, including maths and science.

2. Top A level grades in three A level subjects including Chemistry and ideally at least one out of Biology, Physics or Maths.

3. Good relevant work experience.

Even then he'd be lucky to get an offer the first year he applied. It's hard to get into medical school and it's not a walk in the park once you're there. The dropout rates are quite high and there are years of further training and exams to get through after completing the medical degree. Having said all that, once you qualify you can usually be pretty certain of having a job for life and the salary is very good by most people's standards.

For a Psychology degree, the entry criteria are a lot lower but it does help a lot to have a good grounding in maths and biology.

He should have a good look at the website of the British Psychological Society which will explain what careers are open to people with a degree in psychology. Clinical psychology is not the only one overlapping with psychiatry - counselling, forensic or health psychology might be areas to consider. It all depends on what appealed to him about being a psychiatrist.

Other specialist areas in psychology are educational psychology, sports psychology and occupational psychology.

The big difference between psychiatrists and psychologists is that psychiatrists prescribe drugs and psychologists do a lot more work in the area of psychometric testing (e.g. assessing different types of intelligence) and therapy.

Other areas he could look at that would get him into working with people with a mental illness are mental health nursing, occupational therapy and mental health social work. None of those are (to my knowledge) as tough to get onto as medicine or clinical psychology. A bright, capable mental health nurse would have an excellent chance of moving rapidly up the ranks and would probably end up earning about the same as a clinical psychologist. It is not a job for the faint-hearted, though.

Clinical psychology is incredibly tough to get into. It is common for each training scheme to have hundreds of applicants for 20-40 places and for those who get accepted to have not just a good first degree in psychology (a First or a very good 2.1 would be expected) and some relevant work experience but also a good Master's degree and (often) a Ph.D. as well. It's extremely common for psychology graduates to apply for years and to be well into their 30s before getting onto clinical training (or giving up and doing something else).

The reason it's so competitive is that it's funded by the NHS and trainees get a salary of about £30k pa as well as all their university fees paid while they train (which takes three years). It used to be the case that on qualifying clinical psychologists should be able to get a good job straight away, but psychology has been very hard hit by cuts in NHS budgets and this is not necessarily the case any more.

I think your son would be well-advised to try to get some work experience to help him sort out what he really wants to do. Good luck!

Thank you I'll show him this thread. Yes he's year 11.

LauraBridges Sun 09-Mar-14 14:02:42

I think he doesn't even know the difference between psychiatry( you become a doctor first, need As in everything, 3 sciences and ideally maths A level at A* or A) and psychology (very long training, but you are not a doctor and again science does help).

By the way psychology and sociology are not good A lefvels to do even if he is going to do psychology at university (and certainly totally wrong for medicine). They are not facilitating A levels and best avoided if he is going into anything very competitive.

Thumbwitch Sun 09-Mar-14 14:11:32

I think most of it has been already covered but I've got a couple of points to add:
1) Why does he want to do it, what is his motivation? If it's to help people then there are yet more options open to him,including counselling, psychotherapist, psychiatric nurse etc.
2) I looked at doing a psychology degree many years ago because i was interested in how the mind works, but was put off by the extended training, I think it's 5-7 years, depending on speciality.

And yes, you need to be a medical doctor to become a psychiatrist.

AllMimsyWereTheBorogroves Sun 09-Mar-14 14:18:13

Laura, you would be surprised by how many people don't know the difference between psychiatry and psychology, including some in the final stages of a psychology degree. (I used to deal with them professionally.)

You are also wrong about Psychology A level. It is not necessary to do only 'facilitating' subjects as defined by the Russell Group. Two facilitating subjects + one other is absolutely fine and the great majority of students taking Psychology to degree level do in fact have Psychology A level. This is not because they need to, it's because they want to. (Those who don't take it have no problem catching up with the basics.) My point is that it is quite wrong to suggest that A level Psychology will not be recognised by any decent university, and the same probably goes for Sociology.

TheFallenMadonna Sun 09-Mar-14 14:38:41

If he did the list in the OP, with Maths rather than Sociology, he would have 3 RG facilitating subjects, and the RG guide to post 16 qualifications has Psychology listed as a useful A level for a Psychology degree. Assuming he does want to do a Psychology degree...

I would though ask what bit of Science he isn't good at, because there are lots of experiments in Cognitive Psychology for example, and lots of Biology in biological Psychology (unsurprisingly) - both of which figured quite strongly in my Psychology degree. You didn't need Science to do the degree, but I certainly found my Science background very helpful.

Psychiatry is another kettle of fish all together, and if he is not good at Science, it is not the right direction for him.

LauraBridges Sun 09-Mar-14 15:36:57

ALlM, yes as long as you have 2 facilitating (harder) A levels others are okay but it doesn't have to be psychology. In fact in law if you do law Alevel that's a massive mistake. Surely given all the statistics in psychology degrees he would be better with a maths A level rather than psychology A level.

TheFallenMadonna Sun 09-Mar-14 16:57:34

The Russell Group does not say that facilitating subjects are harder. Simply that some degree courses require certain subjects at A level. They tend to be the facilitating subjects. I suppose the advantage of a Psychology A level (and speak as someone who did a Psychology degree without one) is that you know what you are getting yourself into. More than I did anyway!

TheFallenMadonna Sun 09-Mar-14 17:00:01

This was the recommended textbook for stats...!

FightingFires Sun 09-Mar-14 17:03:54

would he consider looking at Mental Health nursing as a route in? He may get on a degree course with those A levels, if he maybe did some volunteer work, with MIND, for instance.

I agree wholeheartedly with AllMimsy. The facilitating subjects are the ones the RG feel keep LOTS of degree routes open, but are not the only ones accepted there.
The choices of A level seem nicely balanced, and could lead to a variety of degree courses & careers. I wonder whether doing both Psychology and Sociology is a good idea though. Maths would keep more routes open, especially if he can get a good grade in it.

Without wanting to upset the apple cart, is your DS sure that A levels are the right next step for him? Too many Year 11s just follow the stream into the 6th form & either don't realise that there's an alternative, or don't know how to find out about them. If I were to see him, I would want to explore his interest in psychiatry/psychotherapy, and look to see whether there were other careers that might equally be of interest. He doesn't need to decide now on his career choice, but if for example ALL his interests were in the health/medical area, then a BTEC Extended Diploma in Health Studies would be an alternative route to many degrees, instead of A levels (definitely NOT for Medicine though!).

Does his school employ a qualified & independent Careers Adviser who he could see for a discussion?

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