The June issue of the APA Monitor had a piece on the legislation in Hawaii trying to get prescription privileges for psychologists. In some states there are shortages of psychiatrists creating a deficit of services. One of the proposed solutions is to allow psychologists to receive extensive training to prescribe a limited amount of medication for mental disorders. However, groups representing psychiatrists have consistently advocated against these types of bills, and like in Hawaii, have been quite successful. Their arguments have been that the risk of mistakes is too great, but essentially this is a turf war, and if psychologists begin to prescribe medication it cuts into their piece of the pie.

My take is that the years it would take to receive the additional training and certification is something I would not personally be interested in doing at this point. However, since there is an unmet need for services in some states and there are psychologists willing to do that work, I support the effort (I’ve written more on this topic here and here). So far only Louisiana and New Mexico have passed legislation, but there are quite a few states at different levels in terms of getting things passed. Regardless of the Hawaii outcome, the trend is toward allowing these priviledges, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see and handful of other states pass bills in the coming years.