Becoming a Prescribing Psychologist

Requirements for Licensure as a Prescribing Psychologist

Our prescriptive authority law became effective on June 25, 2014, when Governor Pat Quinn signed our bill into law. Our rules were approved on September 12, 2017 and published on October 15, 2017. All eligible psychologists were then able to apply for prescribing psychologist licensure.

In order for a psychologist to become a licensed prescribing psychologist, a candidate must complete 5 essential steps, in addition to being eligible to be licensed as a clinical psychologist in Illinois. In a general sense, this involves: (a) completion of undergraduate coursework; (b) attainment of a master’s degree in clinical psychopharmacology, (c) passage of the Psychopharmacology Examination for Psychologists (PEP), a national examination; (d) completion of clinical rotations; and (e) approval of the Illinois Clinical Psychologists Licensing and Disciplinary Board. Let’s take a closer look at each of these 5 steps.

Step 1:

Let’s begin with the undergraduate preparation component. The required undergraduate coursework (21 – 24 semester credits) to obtain licensure as a prescribing psychologist includes the following:

  • Medical terminology (3 credits or passage of a proficiency exam)
  • Chemistry with lab or Biochemistry with lab (2 semesters; 3 credits each)
  • Human Anatomy (1 semester; 3 credits)
  • Anatomy and Physiology (1 semester; 3 credits)
  • Human Physiology (1 semester; 3 credits)
  • Microbiology with lab (1 semester; 3 credits)
  • General Biology or Molecular Biology (1 semester; 3 credits)

Any courses from this list that were not previously taken by the psychologist at the undergraduate level would be required.

Each of the science courses can be taken on-line or at the trainee's nearest community college.  If trainees had not taken any of these courses as an undergraduate, they typically complete at least some of these courses during the summers between semesters of their MSCP training program.

For undergraduate students, example courses that would meet the requirements at the University of Illinois and at Southern Illinois University are available to download below.

Example Undergraduate Coursework

Click to zoom

Click to zoom

For on-line undergraduate courses, the University of New England (UNE), Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Institute of Health Professions, National University of Health Sciences (NUHS),  University of Phoenix, the University of California, Berkeley,  Brigham Young University, Moraine Valley Community College, University of London,  Harold Washington College, Doane University, among others, offer an excellent array of the required science courses.

Step 2:

The second component of the training involves completion of a Master of Science in clinical psychopharmacology degree, also known as the “MSCP.” It is important to remember that the undergraduate preparation coursework can be completed before, during, or after the MSCP and is not a requirement for entry into a MSCP program. The courses cover the following topic areas, as required by the American Psychological Association Model Education and Training Program in Psychopharmacology for Prescriptive Authority:

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Neuroscience: Neuroanatomy/Neuropathology
  • Neuroscience: Neurochemistry
  • Neurophysiology and Clinical Medicine/Pathphysiology
  • Pharmacology/Clinical Pharmacology
  • Physical Assessment
  • Special Populations
  • Advanced Psychopharmacology
  • Pharmacotherapeutics
  • Case Seminar
  • Practicum in Clinical Psychopharmacology

Training Universities:

 

Alliant International University
San Francisco, California
Co-Directors, Master of Science in Clinical Psychopharmacology Program
Judi Steinman, PhD & Kimberly Finney, PsyD, MSCP, ABPP
Contact: jsteinman@alliant.edu & Kimberly.finney@alliant.edu
All training is online. APA Designated (Approved)

Fairleigh Dickinson University
Teaneck, New Jersey
Executive Director, Master of Science in Clinical Psychopharmacology Program
Derek Phillips, PsyD, MSCP, ABMP
Contact: dphillips@fdu.edu 
All training is online. APA Designated (Approved)

Idaho State University
Meridian, Idaho
Program Director and Clinical Associate Professor, Clinical Psychopharmacology
Eric Silk, PhD, MA, MSCP
Contact: ericsilk@isu.edu
Both in-person and distance learning are available. APA Designated (Approved)

New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Professor and Training Director, Program in Clinical Psychopharmacology
Casey McDougall, PhD, LP, MSCP
Contact: clm-rxp@nmsu.edu
Blend of online and in classroom training. APA Designated (Approved)

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Chicago, Illinois
Chair and Professor, Department of Clinical Psychopharmacology
Gery Rodriguez-Menendez, PhD, MSCP, ABPP
Contact: grodriguez-menendez@thechicagoschool.edu
All training is online. APA Designated (Approved)

 

These programs are generally two years in duration. More recently, the APA has approved offering this specialized psychopharmacology training at the pre-doctoral level.

Step 3:

After completion of the MSCP, the psychologist is then eligible to sit for the Psychopharmacology Examination for Psychologists (PEP). This nationally standardized examination tests for a broad range of concepts related to the science of psychopharmacology and clinical application of psychopharmacological agents. The examination is taken through the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB). Prescribing psychology trainees are eligible to take this exam after completion of the MSCP, but may choose to sit for the exam after completion of the clinical rotations as described in Step 4.

Step 4:

The psychologist is now ready to begin clinical rotations as a Prescribing Psychology Resident. This experience is designed to give the psychologist a breadth of training across multiple medical specialties, as well as more in-depth training in clinical psychopharmacology and psychiatry. The 9 rotations can be completed in any order and consist of the following:

  • Psychiatry
  • Family Medicine
  • Internal Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Geriatrics
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • Obstetrics/Gynecology
  • Elective (e.g., Addiction Psychiatry, Neurology, etc.)
  • A brief research paper on a topic of interest

The rotations must be completed full-time (defined as at least 20 clock-hours/week) over at least 14 months and no greater than 28 months. The prescribing psychology resident is required to accrue a minimum of 1,620 training hours over the course of the 9 rotations.

Over 20 hospitals and clinics around the state of Illinois are offering training for prescribing psychology trainees. These hospitals and clinics include the AMITA Health System in northern Illinois, Loyola University Medical Center, Chicago Lakeshore Hospital, Weiss Memorial Hospital, Hartgrove Hospital, Linden Oaks Hospital, Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System, Southern Illinois Health System, and others.

Dr. Beth Rom-Rymer has put together a directory of each participant hospital, clinic, and medical center with contact information for all interested psychologists. This directory will be found on the website of the Illinois Association of Prescribing Psychologists.

Step 5:

Once steps 1 through 4 are completed, the psychologist is then eligible to provide the Illinois Clinical Psychologists Licensing and Disciplinary Board with all necessary documentation of education and training. It is at this point, and upon approval, that the psychologist becomes a member of the community of prescribing professionals!

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