In 2016, Iowa became the fourth state in the nation to allow psychologists to prescribe medication to patients. Unfortunately, formal rules for the process have been 18 months in the making, and opponents to expanded scope-of-practice for psychologists are making their opposition known.
An effort to fill a gap in mental health care services in Iowa nearly has reached the two-year benchmark in its planning process, but some continue to oppose the move, citing potential negative patient outcomes.
The Iowa Board of Medicine heard comments in Des Moines Tuesday during a joint rulemaking public meeting with the Iowa Board of Psychology to allow certain psychologists in Iowa the authority to prescribe psychotropic medications…
They also will have to complete a two-year period of conditional prescribing under a physician’s supervision.
Once their training is completed and they have successfully undergone the conditional period, certified psychologists independently can prescribe medications — except narcotics — to patients while collaborating with a primary care physician.
Psychologists already have the ability to diagnose and treat patients with mental illnesses, and so, advocates for prescription authority argue, the ability to prescribe medication would open a greater range of treatment options for Iowans.
The Iowa Medical Society voiced its opposition to the change, citing the familiar (and tired) argument that this is “not a safe method of expanding access to behavioral health services.” (In fairness, the Medical Society did support the expanded use of telemedicine.)
Previous research has found that in states where nurse practitioners lack prescribing authority, the number of hours worked by nurses declines while the number of hours worked by physicians increases, and the compensation for the professions decrease and increase, respectively, as a result.