RE:The Prescribing Legislation (SF2188)
Dear Honorable Governor Branstadt,
It has been brought to the attention of Woodbury Medical Society Physicians that Iowa is about to become the fourth state to pass legislation allowing psychologists to write prescriptions for mental health patients. Bill SF 2188 has passed both houses and is on the governor’s desk, ready to be signed.
We as physicians have concerns that psychologists do not have the medical training necessary to provide an adequate standard of care when prescribing drugs to mental health patients. Though all psychologists will have to complete a 10 week training program before prescribing to patients, the training cannot provide the comprehensive education (Pharmacology, Anatomy and Pathology) that MDs and DO’s have spent years mastering. Even though the psychologist will be under the supervision of a physician (not necessarily a psychiatrist), in actuality, the patient may never meet with an MD or DO who can adequately assess the patient's pharmacological physiology and rule out any medical conditions affecting the patient’s mental health.
Though it may seem like mental health care would be improved for patients by providing easy access to more providers, in actuality, it would lower the comprehensiveness and standard of care. We as physicians have witnessed poor outcomes and complications already, as in the case of PA’s and NP’s who are allowed to prescribe to the mental health population, and they have even more training medically and pharmacologically speaking than psychologists. Our professional organization wants to ensure that mental health patients receive comprehensive standard of care and when this warrants prescribing pharmaceuticals, to ensure that the patient’s unique medical history is assessed by a qualified professional which can only be an MD or DO.
A better utilization of resources would be to have psychiatrists providing further education (through conferences and CME credits) to MD’s and DO’s, who already have an extensive pharmacological background and who already prescribe drugs to patients for both their mental and physical health needs. Psychologists would continue to provide the therapeutic setting for counseling as they have trained for.
We ask that you veto SF 2188. Thank you for your thorough consideration.
Ann Rehan, MD President WMS