Iowa is now the fourth state that permits licensed clinical psychologists to prescribe medications for the treatment of mental health disorders. New Mexico was the first state to pass a similar prescribing law in 2002, followed by Louisiana in 2004 and Illinois in 2014.
“This new law will increase access to care for patients who need it. In many rural areas, particularly in Iowa, patients face long waits or have to drive long distances to see a psychiatrist for medication management,” says Katherine C. Nordal, PhD, the American Psychological Assn.’s (APA) executive director for professional practice.
Signed into law by Iowa’s Republican governor, Terry E. Branstad, the provisions allow prescriptive authority to licensed psychologists who have successfully completed a post-doctoral degree in clinical psychopharmacology, completed a supervised practicum, and passed a national examination. Additionally, psychologists must complete a two-year conditional period under a physician's supervision before becoming independent prescribers.
“The new law will provide another tool for psychologists who are already experts in treating mental health disorders increase the overall availability of mental health practitioners and enhance coordination of care,” Nordal says. “For many patients this means that they will no longer see one professional for therapy and another for medication—a prescribing psychologist can provide both therapy and medication management.”
Two-thirds of counties in Iowa do not have a single psychiatrist and could wait months to get an appointment, according to APA. The new law will improve access by increasing the number of available providers to prescribe medications.