President’s Podium

Prescriptive authority, APA convention and the fall conference

Division efforts have opened the door for psychotropic prescriptions in yet another state.

By James H. Bray, PhD

They said it couldn’t be done. But after 12 years of hard work, persistence and a never give up attitude, Illinois became the third state to pass legislation that authorizes psychologists to prescribe psychotropic medications. On June 25, 2014 Illinois governor Pat Quinn signed the bill created by the Illinois Psychological Association under the leadership of Beth Rom-Rymer and Terry Koller that gives appropriately trained psychologists the authority to prescribe psychotropic medications. This achievement is monumental as it was done in the home turf of the American Medical Association and in a collaborative effort with the AMA and psychiatry. In addition, the bill now makes it possible to obtain psychopharmacology training during the pre-doctoral training, rather than post-doctoral. 

Other states are following suit with pursuing prescriptive authority. New Jersey, under the leadership of Bob McGrath, is making progress in passing a bill in their legislature. It is expected that the bill will be passed in Fall 2014. The Texas Legislature commissioned a study on mental health shortages. Without consultation from the Texas Psychological Association (TPA), the report concludes: “Federal programs (Caccavale, Reeves, & Wiggins, 2012) and the states of New Mexico and Louisiana have granted prescriptive authority to psychologists trained in psychopharmacology. Similar initiatives have recently been considered in New Jersey and Illinois, passing one legislative body in each state before stalling in the other. Responsible role expansion should continue to be considered” (Texas Department of State Health Services, 2014, p. 20). In addition, the Houston Chronicle (June 13, 2014) independently published an editorial recommending: “And allowing psychologists to write prescriptions, as they can in New Mexico and Louisiana, would make a better business climate for professionals.” 

TPA is gearing up to pursue this opportunity in the next Legislature in 2015. I will be President of TPA during that year and look forward to making Texas one of the next states to pass prescriptive authority legislation. Just as a reminder, Hawaii and Oregon passed legislation to give psychologists prescriptive authority, but the governors of each state vetoed the bills after heavy lobbying by the medical community. However, with health care reform, the increased awareness of the importance of mental health treatments, and the shortage of psychiatrists and other prescribers, we have new opportunities to pursue prescriptive authority—that is the basis of the reports from Texas.

Div. 55 Programs at the APA Convention

The division, under the leadership of Neal Morris, has organized an exciting program for the next APA convention that will be held Aug. 7 to 10, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Neal was recently elected president of the division for 2016, in large part due to his dedication and hard work for the division. I will give an address on “The Future of Prescribing Psychologists in the Era of Health Care Reform.” There will be symposia on working in integrated health care systems and primary care and a multi-discipline case presentation and discussion. We will also be offering a lunch, sponsored by psychopharmacology training programs for early career psychologists and graduate students. Plan on joining us for our social hour on Friday evening where we will honor this year’s division award winners. There will be an party in the Div. 55 Hospitality Suite on Friday evening to celebrate our successes this year. 

Fall Div. 55 Continuing Education Conference

The division is co-sponsoring the University of Texas College of Pharmacy Psychotropic Medication Update Conference to be held Oct. 23-24, 2014 in Austin. Prescribing psychologist Laura Avila is on the program committee for this conference. This is an outstanding conference to learn about new medications and issues in pharmacotherapy. 

I plan to make random phones calls to members to find out your thoughts and ideas about how we can make the division better and more effective. So if you get a call from me, you will know why I am calling. Engage, get involved—this is your division. You can reach me via email or at (713) 798-7752.

References

  • Bray, J. H. (2010). The future of psychology practice and science. American Psychologist, 65, 355-369.
  • Bray, J.H., Goodheart, C., Heldring, M., et al., 2009 Presidential Task Force on Future of Psychology Practice. (2009). Future of psychology practice: Collaborating for change. Report of the APA 2009 Presidential Task Force on the Future of Psychology Practice. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pubs/info/reports/future-practice.aspx
  • Caccavale, J., Reeves, J. L., & Wiggins, J. (2012). The impact of psychiatric shortage on patient care and mental health policy: The silent shortage that can no longer be ignored. American Board of Behav­ioral Healthcare Practice.
  • Texas Department of State Health Services. (2014). The mental health workforce shortage in Texas. Pursuant to House Bill 1023, 83rd Legislative Session, February.