Illinois Psychologists Push to Prescribe

Oct 8, 2012

Psychology has traditionally focused on techniques like talk therapy. Prescribing drugs for behavioral problems has been the realm of psychiatry. But there's a shortage of psychiatrists, and some psychologists say they could bridge the gap.

Beth Rom-Rymer is with the Illinois Psychological Association. She says prescribing psychologists would have to earn a new master's degree, on top of their existing doctorate.

"That includes 450 hours of classroom training, including courses such as neuro-anatomy, neuro-chemistry, biochemistry, physiology, and teaching about the interaction of medications."

-Beth Rom Rymer, Illinois Psychological Association

Psychiatrists say they have much more medical training -- four years of medical school and four years of residency. Dr. Lisa Rone is with the Illinois Psychiatric Society. She also teaches at the Northwestern University School of Medicine:

"We think that psychologists that want to prescribe really have a pretty easy way that they can go about doing it, and that is to go to medical school."

- Dr. Lisa Rone, Illinois Psychiatric Society

There are only two states that allow psychologists to prescribe drugs: Louisiana and New Mexico.

Illinois Public Radio's Brian Mackey contributed to this report