The National Psychologist reported in its Sept/Oct 2007 issue that prescription privileges bills to give psychologists prescription privileges in nine different U.S. states failed in each and every case. Most never left committee, reflecting the leadership’s unease of granting prescription rights to non-medical professionals.

The bills failed in Hawaii, California, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee and Oregon. It came closest to passing in Hawaii, but was vetoed by the governor when it reached her desk.

What’s at stake here? Two powerful professional organizations — the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association — butting heads over whether it is safe to allow psychologists, with additional medical training, to prescribe psychiatric medications. Psychologists receive little or no formal training in medicine in their graduate studies today (as most physicians who are not psychiatrists receive little or no formal training in psychological theory and practices). If psychologists gained greater prescribing authority, they could rely less on medical doctors, such as psychiatrists, to prescribe common psychiatric medications.

Psychologists argue that there is a demand for such services in rural and areas throughout the country that currently do not have coverage by psychiatrists. Doctors argue such privileges are already available to professionals who want them by undergoing medical school or similar training. Psychologists believe they don’t need such intensive training because psychiatric medications are largely limited to affecting the mood, and don’t interact as much with other body systems.

Hat tip: The National Psychologist