A new bill would allow psychologists in Florida to prescribe medication. If passed, Florida would be the sixth state to make the change.
Only psychiatrists, who train as medical doctors, currently have the power to prescribe medication in Florida.
Psychologists graduate with a PhD, and study human behavior.
A bill filed by Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) would give psychologists prescription power as well.
“There’s just a huge need for people who can prescribe effectively," said Andrew Hicks, legislative chair of the Florida Psychological Association. "And it also would allow psychologists to be able to help those patients who need to get off medication, or who need a combined therapy of psychotherapy and medication management.”
Hicks says by 2025 there will be a greater shortage of psychiatrists than any other medical specialty.
Most professionals will not elect take advantage of the new prescription powers. Hicks describes it as another subfield, like forensic psychology or develomental psychology, that requires specialized training.
To qualify, licensed psychologists would have to take a two-year psychopharmacology course, complete clinical hours and pass an exam.
The American Psychological Association has praised the passage of similar efforts in Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, New Mexico and Louisiana.