Can a psychologist prescribe medicine?

In most cases, psychologists cannot prescribe drugs to patients. However, several states have recently promoted the granting of prescribing privileges to psychologists. In fact, there are already some local psychologists who do have prescribing privileges.

Where can a psychologist prescribe medicine?

If psychologists are certified in Louisiana or New Mexico, they can prescribe medications anywhere in the military and Indian health services.Psychologists can prescribe in five states: Louisiana, New Mexico, Illinois, Iowa, and Idaho.

Professional psychologists obtained prescription rights in New Mexico and Louisiana in 2002 and 2004, respectively. In 2014, Illinois became the third state to grant prescribing rights to psychologists with appropriate training. Iowa granted normative powers to psychologists in 2016, and Idaho followed suit in 2017.

In this case, the psychologist must receive proper training and be allowed to prescribe certain drugs for the treatment of mental disorders.

What training do prescription psychologists receive?

What kind of training is needed? For example, in Louisiana, psychologists who want to obtain prescription rights must complete a postdoctoral degree in clinical psychopharmacology, pass a national examination recognized by the committee, and hold a certificate of responsibility from the Louisiana Psychologist Examination Board.

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  • In Louisiana: Psychologists must complete a postdoctoral degree in clinical psychopharmacology before they can prescribe drugs.
  • In New Mexico: Psychologists must complete 450 hours of teaching training and 400 hours of psychopharmacology supervision practice.
  • In Illinois: Psychologists must receive specialized training in psychopharmacology. In addition to this training, they must complete a 14-month supervised clinical rotation, covering various environments such as hospitals, prisons, and mental health clinics.
  • In Iowa: Psychologists must complete a postdoctoral degree in clinical psychopharmacology. They also need relevant clinical experience in evaluation and pathophysiology.
  • In Idaho: Psychologists need a postdoctoral degree in clinical psychopharmacology. There is no specific hour requirement for training.

Psychologists are not the only non-doctors granted prescription rights. Senior psychiatric nurses usually have prescriptive powers, although their powers may be limited, depending on their status.

Arguments for prescribing privilege

Supporters of the prescription right of psychologists include the National Federation of Professional Psychology Providers and Division 55 of the American Psychological Association. Proponents suggest that psychologists should be allowed to prescribe for many different reasons.

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On average, 30% of primary care physicians’ cases are mentally ill. Primary care physicians prescribe psychiatric drugs for an average of 70% of patients with mental illness, although they usually have limited training and experience with mental illness.Proponents believe that psychologists can provide better services to many people, and they can also use other treatment strategies besides drug intervention.

Some other reasons cited by supporters include:

  • Increase access to mental health care
  • Allow patients to get treatment faster
  • Help rural patients get more access to treatment
  • Reduce waiting time for treatment; Many countries are faced with a shortage of psychiatrists, making it difficult for clients to obtain timely mental health services.

Arguments against the provision of privileges

Organizations that oppose the provision of prescription rights to psychologists include the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the National League of Mental Illness. Opponents cited many reasons why psychologists cannot prescribe, including:

  • Insufficient training in medicine and pharmacology.
  • The risk of drug side effects.
  • Ignore the dangers of medical diseases that may be mistaken for mental disorders.
  • Many patients taking psychotropic drugs also have one or more coexisting diseases.
  • Physicians and psychiatrists are better trained to determine when and if medications are needed.
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