In an effort to improve access to mental health services, clinical psychologists in Illinois will now be able to write prescriptions for their patients under certain conditions.
Senate Bill 2187 requires clinical psychologists to meet high education and training standards before applying for a license to prescribe medicine. With the new law, which became effective June 25, Illinois becomes the third state, along with New Mexico and Louisiana, to allow patients to get necessary medication from a psychologist.
Proponents argued that in many areas of the state, particularly in rural areas, limited access to psychiatrists has meant that persons suffering from mental illness have a difficult time getting medication that can help them manage their illness.
Previously, clinical psychologists could provide mental health services to patients but were not able to write prescriptions. Typically, an individual sees a psychologist (a Ph.D.) for therapy and a psychiatrist (an M.D.) for their medication.
The new law sets educational requirements that psychologists must meet; limits the types of drugs they are able to prescribe; requires prescribing psychologists to have a collaborative agreement with a physician; and prohibits clinical psychologists from prescribing for patients under 17, older than 65, pregnant women or persons with serious medical conditions.
A clinical psychologist must apply to the state Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (DFPR) for a prescribing psychologist license.
The legislation extensively outlines specific educational and training requirements, that clinical psychiatrists must meet, including coursework in Medical Terminology, Chemistry, Anatomy, and General Biology along with a minimum of 60 credit hours in courses such as Pharmacology, Clinical Psychophamacology, Clinical Anatomy, and Advanced Pathophysiology.
The clinical psychiatrist must also have spent at least 14 months of complete rotations focused on nine different medical specialties, such as Emergency Medicine, Internal Medicine, and Psychiatrics.
Any prescribing psychologist must also have a written collaborative agreement with a physician.