Psychiatrists are first trained as doctors and undertake six years of university study and training to gain their basic medical qualifications. Some teaching and experience in psychiatry is included in their basic medical qualifications. Having obtained their medical degree, doctors must then work as interns in a general hospital for a further 12 months to gain experience in specialist aspects of medicine and surgery in order to become fully registered as medical practitioners. Following their internship, doctors must complete at least a further year as Resident Medical Officers. Careful selection of psychiatric trainees is conducted by a panel of psychiatrists in each state who directly interview each applicant for entry into the Psychiatric Training Program. Each prospective trainee must also provide extensive references regarding their work performance and suitability for psychiatric training. Only then is specialised psychiatric training able to be undertaken.
In Australia and New Zealand, specialist training for doctors to qualify as psychiatrists is conducted by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP). The College’s program for post-graduate training in psychiatry takes a minimum of five years, during which time the doctors work under supervision in hospitals and community clinics. They gain wide experience in dealing with the full range of psychiatric problems, including those of children and families, adults and the elderly.
Training in psychiatry requires mandatory supervision by experienced, qualified psychiatrists. Rigorous examinations are conducted throughout their training during which their experience and competence are tested. Only if these strict training and examination requirements are completed can doctors be elected as Fellows of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP). With this qualification they can achieve recognition as Consultant Psychiatrists and can practice in Australia and New Zealand.