Physician groups oppose prescribing rights for psychologists

March 16, 2011

Although legislatures in six states are considering bills allowing psychologists to prescribe psychotropic medications, many physician groups say it?s a bad idea.

Although legislatures in six states are considering bills allowing psychologists to prescribe psychotropic medications, many physician groups say it’s a bad idea.

Bills to allow psychologists to prescribe psychotropic medications have been introduced in legislatures in Arizona, Hawaii, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon and Tennessee.

The American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, state medical associations and the National Alliance on Mental Illness oppose the idea, saying that psychologists don’t have the training or education to safely prescribe drugs.

Proponents argue that allowing psychologists to prescribe will ease the burden on the overtaxed mental health care system and improve patient care, particularly in rural areas where there aren’t enough psychiatrists to meet the demand.

Five of the measures would require psychologists to have a master’s degree in clinical psychopharmacology, pass a national exam and acquire clinical experience. Psychologists in Hawaii would have to establish a collaborative agreement with a physician.

Currently, psychologists have prescribing rights in New Mexico and Louisiana, as well as in the military and Indian Health Service.