How to Become a Medical Psychologist [2024 Updated Guide]

What is a Medical Psychologist?

Usually during the treatment of a person, it may be necessary to use psycho therapeutic processes. The medical psychologist is the professional with the ability of diagnosing and treating diseases exhibiting psychological and physiological symptoms. They are trained in the way psychological parameters of a disease may affect the physical well-being of a person.

The areas of expertise of a medical psychologist are therefore:

  • Psychotherapy- guiding the patient in the handling off psychological challenges that present as a result of a certain kind of ailment. This is especially important to cancer patients.
  • Behavioral treatment-coming up with strategies that will help a patient develop a positive attitude and better stress handling mechanisms for the overall health of a person.
  • Prescription of treatment geared towards those sick people who may be handling mental health challenges; whether resulting from a physical condition or not. This is because they also have medical training.
  • Pain control- the medical psychologist also does the work of helping patients tolerate pain that may be born of a disease or discomforts arising from the use of a given kind of medication. Some of the methods used here are hypnosis and relaxation techniques.

Where Does a Medical Psychologist Work?

  • With research centers where studies are done with the aim of getting better ways of handing the relationships that may subsist between physical and psychological aspects of disease.
  • In health facilities, hospital or otherwise medical centers where treatment is given to those in need.
  • Providing consultancy services for other psychologists who may not have the medical advantage that this professional has.

What are the Education Requirements to Become a Medical Psychologist?

After high school, one needs to take comprehensive studies that will pave the way for a career in medical psychology. Usually, there are two paths that one can follow to fulfill a dream in this field.

The first method would be to go through medical school and thereby get a license to work in the field of medicine. Alternatively, one can take the approach of earning a Ph.D. in psychology or a Doctor of Psychology, PsyD. In some cases one may also need to go obtain a master’s degree.

Related: How to Become a Pain Psychologist

While there are many colleges that offer psychology courses, for medical psychology, the discipline is learned at an institution that specializes in it. Hence, for a student wishing to pursue this career line, a doctoral program in college that specializes in this would be necessary. Also, students can study for medical psychology as a program integrated into the medical degree program that one is undertaking.

There are a number of courses that are taught such as development pathology and neuroscience. Disorders in behavior as well as psychiatric classes are also taught. Moreover, one will also learn a lot of medical procedures that are involved in the line of duty.

The duration that would be necessary to successfully complete such studies is approximately seven years. Thus, one needs to evaluate the ability and passion for this career path before venturing into this study.

Licensing and Certification Requirements

Like every other branch of psychology, one would need to have the appropriate license to practice. A doctoral degree in psychology and supervised internship would get one the license needed to practice.

The American Board of Medical Psychology would need to see evidence of post-doctoral training and one would have to pass an  examination to receive certification.

What is the Salary for a Medical Psychologist?

ZipRecruiter, as of February 2024, puts the mean annual salary of the medical psychologist at $154,156. This comes to an hourly rate of $74. Of course there are a number of benefits like retirement plans and life insurance packages.

There are also various other factors that will determine the amount that one earns. Location is one of these factors. For example, practitioners in New York ($179,339) tend to earn more than those who work in California ($186,511).

Furthermore, highly experienced (15+ years) medical psychologists on average earn $203,000 per year.

What is the Job Outlook for Medical Psychologists?

The prospect for this profession looks promising. As with the other branches of psychology, the US Department of Labor predicts a reasonable growth in the demand for these professionals. The medical psychologist will be needed more than ever due to trends in medicine to cater for the psychological impacts of disease.

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