I am one of a few interested parties who attended but did not testify at Tuesday's hearing on prescribing privileges for psychologists. I did not testify because I knew I could not add anything to the substantial arguments presented by Drs. Annelle Primm, Ilias Nigamatov and Derek Spencer among others.
These doctors had prepared statements that cogently and forcefully stated the basic case that the proposed extra education for psychologists is woefully inadequate. 300 hours to get a masters in psychopharmacology combined with a "residency" on 100 patients sounds good until you realize that a psychiatrist has had four years of medical school, a year (sometimes two) of internship, and four years of residency, this last usually entailing 80 hours a week; for a total of 38,000 hours of relevant education. Even with medical supervision, the potential for prescribing psychologists to have adverse outcomes due to drug interactions or other medical problems is very high.
Nothing I heard convinced me that the psychologists could readily move from a behavioral model to a medical one. Everything said led me to believe the correct way to solve any shortage of mental health professionals in the territory is economic – recruit young mental health professionals, both psychiatrists and psychologists at a rate of pay commensurate with other locations. This would seem to be the safest, most cost effective solution.
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