"Prescribing psychologist" bill infuriates MDs

A new California bill which would allow psychologists with special training to prescribe drugs has drawn angry protests from a state psychiatric group. The bill, which is being considered by the state Senate, would give psychologists the option of becoming "prescribing psychologists" after taking a year of courses and getting additional supervised clinical experience. (They would be required to have this training because unlike psychiatrists, they don't have MD degrees.) The California Psychiatric Association, meanwhile, argues that the extra training is not sufficient. After all, they note, all of the other professions that have prescribing authority, such as psychiatrists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants with psych training, have much more education and experience. Not surprisingly, the California Psychological Association supports the measure, arguing that a lack of available psychiatrists is putting communities at risk and driving up psychiatrist fees enormously. The bill represents the fifth attempt by legislators to expand psychologists' ability to treat their patients.

To learn more about the bill:
- read this United Press International article
- check out the California Psychological Association's take on the issue
- read the California Psychiatric Association's letter to legislators (.pdf)