7:02 am
Mon October 8, 2012

Illinois Psychologists Push to Prescribe

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