Thursday, 8 April 2010

Psychologists prescribing medication

There are now three states in US where psychologists are allowed to prescribe psychotropic medication. With huge numbers of soldiers returning from the front and shortage of psychiatrists, psychologists have been given powers to do it. There is a requirement to do a two year Masters degree in pharmacology. Pharmacologists' training, from what I have seen in UK, is longer and quite advanced.

Doctors might feel quite aggrieved to hear this knowing just how hard they had to work to understand the relevant sciences from anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, statistics, etc to actually having years of practical experience of prescribing and interactions of many drugs in the context of mental illness and other diseases.

There are also problems of running psychotherapy and in the same time assuming the responsibility of prescribing, when, for example, some patients may, actually, expect the right pill rather than work through defences and the need to change behavioural patterns. It is expected that more US states will pass the legislation to allow psychologists to prescribe. The cost implications may be that it is much cheaper to train psychologists than doctors. The entrance exam requirements to study psychology are not as high as medicine which has been academically competitive for many years.

I would expect that psychologists would now become target of attacks that psychiatrists suffered for many years.

With many people who do not even know the difference between psychologist and psychiatrist and psychotherapist, it does not surprise me that all of this is possible now.

Insurance companies are either asleep or feeling helpless or do not know what is going to hit them.


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