Sample Essay

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Currently New Mexico is the only state in the United States of America that allows Psychologists to prescribe Psychiatric medication. The usual argument for denying psychologists the ability to prescribe psychiatric drugs rests on the fact that psychologists generally do not receive any extensive training in pharmacology.

It is possible for someone to receive a doctorate in Psychology and to advance to the highest levels in the field without ever receiving any knowledge of chemistry greater than the high school level. It is said that it is very important that anyone prescribing any psychiatrics drug be able to understand issues like its neurological and physiological effects and its interactions with other drugs, the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics etc. All this has been addressed in the New Mexico legislation that authorizes psychologist to prescribe medication. According to the New Mexico law HB 170, psychologists can apply for a two-year license to prescribe medication, under a medical doctor’s supervision after:

a) Receiving pharmacological training from a recognized institution.

b) Passing a standard certification examination “that tests the applicant’s knowledge of pharmacology in the diagnosis, care and treatment of mental disorders;”

c) Received at least 450 hours of instruction in neuroscience, pharmacology, psychopharmacology, physiology, pathophysiology, physical and laboratory assessment and clinical pharmacotherapeutics.

d) Having had at least 80 hours of supervised practice in clinical assessment and pathophysiology and at least 400 hours of medically supervised treatment involving at least 100 patients with mental disorders.

Opponents of the measure to grant psychologists prescribing privileges, often express the fear that Psychologists will over prescribe medication such as anti-depressants. The fact is that General Practitioners prescribed most people that are on psychotropic medicine these medicines. According to a study over 60% of the prescriptions for psychotropic drugs were by general practitioners (Sleek, 1994). These General Practitioners often do not have any training in mental health and have a tendency to over prescribe medication. According to a study undertaken in 1991, 82% of the psychotropic medication prescribed, was written by family practitioners and medical internists who had no significant knowledge in the field of mental health (DeLeon and Wiggins, 1996). According to a 1992 report by the APA task force on Psychopharmacology, over-prescription of psychotropic drugs has risen to the extent that around 20% of all drugs now prescribed are psychotropic drugs (American Psychological Association, 1992).

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