I would like to applaud the efforts of Psychiatric News to keep
psychiatrists informed about legislative developments on granting
psychologists prescriptive authority. Scope-of-practice concerns have been
plaguing many medical specialties, and physicians and patients both will pay a
high price if we do not continue to work to defeat them.
While psychiatry is so much more than the prescribing of psychotropic
medications, pharmacotherapy is an integral part of the practice of psychiatry
and is what attracted me to this field when I was in medical school.
Psychiatry deals with some of the most complex structures in the body. Unlike
most other medical specialists, we may spend hours discussing everything from
the receptor profiles of these medications to their symbolic meaning. We have
even written volumes on single medications such as lithium.
Because psychotropic medications have significant effects throughout the
body and not just in the brain, their management requires the well-rounded
knowledge of psychiatrists. A 24-month crash course in pharmacology will never
be able to provide the knowledge and experience necessary to manage these
medications properly. I have been studying pharmacology for seven years, first
as a medical student and now as a resident, and I continue to learn new
intricacies about them on a daily basis.
I recently received a letter from APA urging me to donate to the Fund to
Defeat Psychology Prescribing. Even though I am a resident with limited
income, I will gladly donate and urge all psychiatrists to do the same. We
should do this for our patients: they deserve the highest quality of care that
only psychiatrists can provide.