Despite heavy lobbying by psychiatrists, the New Mexico Medical Board did not adopt a minority report urging tougher educational and training requirements before psychologists could prescribe psychotropic drugs.
Instead the board will consider both the minority and the majority report issued by a committee charged by the state legislature to implement regulations governing prescribing authority for psychologists in New Mexico.
In addition, a new six-person committee will consider recommendations by the New Mexico Board of Psychology Examiners that were submitted to the Medical Board after the committee made its report. The committee ironing out a final set of regulations will be composed of three psychologists and three non-psychiatric physicians.
The committee faced a deadline of the end of 2003, but few observers thought the new six-person committee would be able to submit the final plan by then. The final recommendations, however, are expected shortly after the first of the year.
The legislation, signed by former Gov. Gary Johnson nearly two years ago, went into effect July 1, 2002. Rejection of the psychiatrists’ minority report as the Medical Board’s recommendation was seen as a victory for psychologists in the first state to win prescribing privileges.
Elaine LeVine, Ph.D., of Los Cruces, chair of the New Mexico Psychological Association Prescription Privilege Task Force, said the medical board was lobbied heavily by the state’s psychiatry community to adopt the minority report.
The minority report recommended that, among other things, psychologists be required to attend full time a two-year university-based program, including one year of full-time residency.
The majority report adopted much of what was required by the law, including 450 hours of didactic instruction in eight core areas; a 400-hour practicum, with at least 20 percent in an institutional setting; and passing the Psychological Examination for Psychologists. Qualified psychologists would be limited to prescribing to individuals between 14 and 65, unless they had completed 100 additional practicum hours for people under 14 and/or over 65.
Once the new six-member committee makes its recommendations, a public comment period and rules hearing must be conducted.