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Why Psychologist Should Not Prescribe Medication

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The question that asked is should psychologist have prescription privileges and opposing on this issue given the research makes sense. There are too many problems and concerns when it comes to psychologist prescribing. Issues such as suboptimal care problems that could arise, training gaps, not having the right educational background, and medical knowledge is going to be questioned. These are very strong points that are being considered when researched because they are in all reality dealing with a human’s wellbeing.

Concerns about psychologist prescribing start with suboptimal care. The primary concern with suboptimal care that could arise is the limited breadth and depth of knowledge about human physiology, medicine, and related areas. We are not dealing with animals, we are dealing with human beings that have legal rights and should have someone that knows and is educated on what they are giving out to a person to help a problem. Many people and groups such as the American Medical Association, consumer groups, and physicians have expressed opposition to allow psychologists prescription authority because they feel they are just not trained enough to do so.

When it comes to medical knowledge and clinical proficiencies most psychologist are just lacking training, which is not their fault. They just are not trained on it in school. Some main subjects that are not even touched are such things as human physiology, pathophysiology, biochemistry, clinical medicine, physical examination, and interpretation of lab data. This subjects have been excluded from education and training for psychology majors. If you are not trained and have no knowledge on how the body operates how can you consider prescribing some drug that you have no idea on how it will affect an individual’s body.

When it comes down to prescribing drugs there are two broad medical domains that are required. One is understanding the patients’ medical status prior to and concurrent with prescribing. The second is you need to know the patients’ medical status during and after treatment, basically knowing the patients’ physiological response to the prescribed medication. The effect of medication is important when regarding the human body. Managing these effects is crucial and has more to do with biochemical and physiology then with psychology. (Kingsbury, 1992, p 5)

There are a couple of premises when it comes to training to be able to prescribe medication. The first premise is the education and training in doctoral degrees in psychology largely neglects key topics that are relevant to prescribing medication such as physical and biological science which are essential. The second premise is the scope of practice should be broadened. PA’s and advanced nurses for an example can prescribe but they are justified. Allied health professionals and nurses are required in the undergraduate level to be prepared in subjects such as anatomy, biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, pharmacology, human physiology and even some physics. Undergraduate or admissions to psychology graduate programs do not need any of these courses. So you see how important it is and why the training is necessary.

There are postdoctoral level psychopharmacology training programs but there are a lot of problems that come with this such as accreditation, regulatory and legal issues. Especially when there are psychology boards that are mandated to protect the public. So the boards need to review the competence and effectiveness of the programs. There are just too many problems when it comes to giving psychologists prescription privileges or authority as it stands right now. If a lot of things would change, this issue would be very different. The training in psychology programs are just not their, that’s why there is a difference between psychologists and psychiatrists.

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