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Can Clinical Psychologists Prescribe Medication?

A person who is considering a career in clinical psychology may want to know, “Can clinical psychologists prescribe medication?” The answer to this question is that it depends on the location and industry of employment for the clinical psychologist. In the places that do allow clinical psychologists to prescribe medication, the psychologist may need to have additional training, certification or licensure with the state government.

Industries of Employment That Allow Clinical Psychologists to Prescribe Medication

There are several industries of employment that allow a clinical psychologist to prescribe medication. The Indian Health Service, which is a part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, allows this. The military also allows clinical psychologists to prescribe medications to personnel. Private practice and publicly-employed clinical psychologists are allowed to prescribe medications in a few states, and several additional states are considering legislation that would allow this activity.

States That Allow Clinical Psychologists to Prescribe Medication

As of 2019, three states allow clinical psychologists to prescribe medication. New Mexico granted this authority to clinical psychologists in 2002. Louisiana granted this privilege in 2004. Illinois is the third state to pass this legislation and did so in 2014. It is important to note that in 40 states, advanced practice psychiatric nurses and other types of nurse practitioners can prescribe medications. These two types of professionals are the only types of non-physicians who can prescribe medications.

Additional Training Required for Clinical Psychologists to Prescribe Medication

According to Very Well Mind, each state has its requirements for training and authorizing clinical psychologists to prescribe medication. In New Mexico, a clinical psychologist must complete a minimum of 450 hours of didactic training by an approved entity and at least 400 hours of supervised and documented practice in psychopharmacology to gain authorization to write prescriptions. In Louisiana, a clinical psychologist must complete a post-doctoral master’s degree in clinical psychopharmacology from an accredited university. In Illinois, the clinical psychologist has to receive specialized training in psychopharmacology. After the training, they must finish a supervised clinical rotation in mental health facilities, prisons and hospitals that lasts for a minimum of 14 months.

Pros and Cons of Allowing Clinical Psychologists to Prescribe Medication

There are many benefits to allowing clinical psychologists to prescribe medications. Their services cost less compared to those of a psychiatrist. There are more psychologists than psychiatrists, which means patients have more access to care and may not have to wait as long for an appointment. Rural and poor patients may have an easier time of getting mental health care and medication to treat their conditions. There are also a few cons to allowing clinical psychologists to prescribe medications. They may not have enough medical training to recognize medical versus mental disorders. They may lack knowledge of medication risks and side effects.

Knowing whether or not a clinical psychologist can prescribe medication could affect a person’s choice of college major, post-doctoral studies or other educational and professional pursuits. An individual needs to know their rights and responsibilities when entering the field of clinical psychology. Becoming familiar with the answer to, “Can clinical psychologists prescribe medication?” is important in the selection of a doctoral degree, post-doctoral training and application for a license to practice as a clinical psychologist.

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