“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”
~ Rita Mae Brown
Ya have to admire psychologists who endlessly lobby state legislatures for the right to extend prescription privileges to their profession (with a little additional training). They won’t take repeated defeat as a sign that perhaps their efforts are… insane?
Illinois is the latest state to hand psychologists seeking prescription privileges a defeat, with NAMI Illinois siding on the side of not supporting the bills in front of the Illinois legislature. After intense lobbying by both sides of this issue, they concluded, “NAMI Illinois opposes SB 2187 and HB 3074 in its current form to expand prescriptions privileges to psychologists.”
When will psychologists learn?
The movement that is supported by some psychologists to gain prescription privileges is called RxP. The rationale behind the movement is that, in some communities in the U.S., psychiatrists are few and far between. With too few psychiatrists, patients often have little choice but to wait weeks or months for an appointment, or travel long distances to see another psychiatrist. Psychologists argue that their existing training prepares them to take an additional set of courses (which can be taken exclusively online) and training (supervision under a physician) that results in them being high-quality prescribers — equivalent to a medical doctor.
NAMI Illinois’ statement is worth a read, so we’ve posted a copy of it here. But here’s a highlight:
If we don’t fully address integrated health care needs, mental health needs become moot if people continue to die so early from physical causes. NAMI Illinois cannot advocate for the creation of more silos that hinder full integration of physical and mental health care needs.
Exactly. Instead of working with the profession of psychiatry to help address the shortage of psychiatrists, psychologists seek to circumvent that profession entirely by pushing for professionals with little medical background or knowledge to become medical prescribers.
This is a misguided, failure-ridden effort that has been going on now for more than three decades — with very little success to show for it. The bills are introduced into a number of state legislatures each and every year. Each and every year, they get defeated or never get voted out of committee.
And Illinois is not alone. Ohio’s legislators appear disinclined to keep reintroducing the same bills that keep failing, year after year, according to an update sent out by Janet Shaw, MBA, the executive director of the Ohio Psychiatric Physicians Association:
It appears Senators Burke and Seitz are no longer inclined to reintroduce last year’s bill in its current form.
Instead, Senator Burke suggested, and Senator Seitz agreed, that psychologists in Ohio who want to prescribe medications go the route of becoming a physician assistant since the training is similar and duration the same (approximately two years), to the psychopharmacology programs for psychologists, and since the scope of practice for a physician assistant already allows them to prescribe in Ohio.
I agree. Psychologists — like all mental health professionals who don’t hold a medical degree — already have a path to gaining prescription privileges. It’s called “go to medical school” and become a medical doctor, a registered nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant. There is virtually nothing unique or special about a doctoral degree in philosophy (the Ph.D., which most psychologists hold) that gives them a leg up on the medical training necessary to prescribe.
Psychologists should be working with psychiatrists to understand how best to address the dearth of psychiatrists in certain geographical areas in the U.S., instead of trying to steal their profession away from them.
Psych Central remains steadfastly against psychologists gaining prescription privileges. It is a waste of psychologists’ time and efforts, and minimizes their specialized expertise and training in being uniquely qualified in the understanding of human behavior.