I appreciate the Daily Herald taking time to cover an important issue in Springfield: prescription authority for psychologists. I want to stress a few points as legislators consider what to do next. If approved, prescription authority would be pursued only by psychologists who think it would really enhance their care for their patients. They would go through intensive training and preparation in courses and practice to be ready to prescribe psychotropic medications or, in many cases, take patients off medications when other therapies could be more successful.
This should not be viewed as a rush by psychologists to write prescriptions. Psychologists want this prescription authority because we know Illinois faces a real crisis in mental health care. We now see our patients much more frequently than psychiatrists do, and prescription authority would be just one solution among behavioral therapies and other alternative approaches to providing our patients the best possible care. If people have to wait weeks or months to get the treatment they need, they will end up in expensive hospital care or jails or worse. There has to be a better way, and we think prescription authority for well-trained psychologists is it.
Finally, regarding any "turf war" between psychologists and psychiatrists, psychologists are not interested in competing with anyone. We want to work collaboratively with other providers to do what's best for patients -- period. We think prescriptive authority for psychologists, similar to the authority advanced practice nurses and other providers have been given by legislators in recent years, will be handled with the great care and respect it deserves and provide an avenue for patients who desperately need help. I want to encourage legislators to build on the momentum we have seen so far on this issue and approve Senate Bill 2187 this spring.
Amy Robinson, Psy. D.