Medical psychology is a new and rapidly growing field in health care. Medical psychologists are experts in the biomedical basis of behavior.
Medical psychologists undergo specialized medical training that allows them to prescribe medication and treat both the physical and psychological symptoms of illnesses.
Medical Psychology Degrees
Medical psychologists must have a doctorate degree in medical psychology or clinical psychology with additional education in medicine. Doctorate degrees usually take five to seven years to complete.
The American Psychological Association (APA) recommends post-doctoral fellowships and training in biological sciences, pharmacology, and clinical medicine for those pursuing careers as medical psychologists. Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology or the sciences provide a good foundation for a doctorate in medical psychology.
Medical Psychologist Job Description
The duties of clinical psychologists and medical psychologists have much overlap. However, in addition to the psychotherapeutic aspects of clinical psychology, medical psychologists receive advanced training in the ways that psychological factors affect physical illness. Medical psychologists call on their training in general medicine, psychopharmacology, physiology and rehabilitation to treat the types of patients they see on the job.
Some common responsibilities of medical psychologists include:
- Psychotherapy – helping patients manage the emotional aspects of chronic illnesses.
- Pain Management – finding ways to curb the physical symptoms of a disease and minimize the side effects of treatments.
- Pharmacology – prescribing psychotropic medications for patients with mental issues or disorders.
- Behavior Therapy – initiating and implementing behavioral interventions and stress reduction techniques that will positively affect patients’ immune systems.
Medical psychologists work in a variety of settings. Many take positions at hospitals, medical centers or health care facilities. Some medical psychologists work solely in research positions, studying the ways that mental and physical factors are interrelated. Medical psychologists also work as consultants to other psychologists and health care professionals.
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