Difference between a Psychologist and Psychiatrist in Singapore

Is a psychologist different from a psychiatrist in Singapore?

And can a psychologist become a psychiatrist? 

This post on the difference between a Psychiatrist and Psychologist in Singapore was inspired by a viewer who left a comment on my YouTube channel. Thanks Keith for the question!

Here’s my internet research.

Psychiatrists are actually medical doctors who have undergone the Bachelors of medicine and Bachelors of surgery (MBBS) and then went on to complete advanced postgraduate training in the Masters of Medicine in Psychiatry.

On the other hand, psychologists usually complete a bachelors of psychology and move on to a masters of applied psychology in a specialized area such as clinical, education or counselling psychology.

The key difference here is that you can’t simply call yourself a medical doctor and start practicing medicine. Whereas anyone can call themselves a psychologist and practice.

So how does one become a psychiatrist and how long would it take?

If you look at the National University of Singapore’s Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine website and Nanyang Technological University’s Lee Kong Chian school of Medicine website, you see that the MBBS is a 5 year programme, and the Master of Medcine in Psychiatry takes another 5 years.

So minimally it takes about 10 years. I’m not exactly sure if this includes all the residency placement and training, so it might be more.

So back to Keith’s question. Can a psychologist become a registered psychiatrist in Singapore?

As we’ve established, you need a basic medical degree and the advanced postgraduate training in psychiatry. I suppose a psychologist could become a registered psychiatrist if go to medical school, but I’m not too sure if NUS Yong Loo Lin or NTU’s Lee Kong Chian school of medicine accepts mid-career switchers and adult learners.

I have heard about the Duke-NUS programme offering an option for those with a degree in any discipline a chance to become trained as a medical doctor, but I have no idea if it allows you to progress on to the advanced postgraduate training programme in psychiatry.

More information

  1. NUS Medicine
  2. NTU Medicine
  3. Duke-NUS Medicine

James Cook University’s psychology programmes

  1. Bachelor of Psychological Science
  2. Master of Psychology (Clinical)

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