My Road to RxP - NMSU

This is the first in a multi-part series where psychologists describe their journeys to pursuing prescriptive authority in Iowa.  

My road to becoming a prescribing psychologist really started many, many miles ago when I was in graduate school. Even way back then, in the early 1990s, I found a class on psychopharmacology taught by a local psychiatrist fascinating and the information was very useful in my early practice. Fast forward to the 2000s, when IPA first had members interested in pursuing advocacy for prescriptive authority. Through the years, I worked with Dr. Bethe Lonning and Dr. Greg Febbraro to advocate for the law granting us the right to prescribe medication with a limited formulary and additional training after our doctoral degrees. I completed the Farleigh Dickinson University Master of Science in Clinical Psychopharmacology (MSCP) program, graduating in 2011. I passed the Psychopharmacology Examination for Psychologists (PEP) in 2012. It would seem like that’s where my road would end, at a happy RxP place- but no! After helping to pass the legislation granting prescriptive authority for psychologists in Iowa in 2016, it took three years for us to negotiate rules to support the law with the Board of Medicine. The rules were not finalized until 2019, meaning that my 5-year window from the time of graduation to the time to apply for a conditional license was already passed.

I decided to join the cohort starting the New Mexico State University MSCP program in 2019. The program is structured with live online classes once a month, and the first year is focused on medical conditions, anatomy and physiology, and pathophysiology. During the first year, I spent around 10 hours a week outside of the classes once a month reading material and preparing for the course lectures and assignments. The second year is focused on psychopharmacology, and I find that I spend a bit less time outside of class because I’m more familiar with the content. A great feature of the program is in-person classes focused on physical assessment. We learned physical examinations, neurological examinations, ordering and reading labs, and taking vital signs. Not only was it a great chance to really connect with colleagues in person, but also the in-person training component was crucial to learning the techniques. We were lucky that our cohort skirted the pandemic shut down of campuses by having our first in person training in March 2020 at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, and our two subsequent in-person trainings at St. Ambrose in August and September.

This is a road well-traveled for me, as I’m basically completing the academic requirements again in order to start a supervised experience with a physician in Iowa and complete the program so I can apply for a conditional prescribing license in both Iowa and New Mexico. My road has been a bit winding, and my hope is that the journey helps to set a path for others that is straight and less time consuming! At this point, I’m almost done with the academic requirements and have been working with primary care physicians and a psychiatrist to really learn the nuts and bolts of prescribing for mental health. It’s been rewarding for me personally, and I think beneficial for my patients.

Even if I wasn’t on the verge of finally getting that prescribing license, what I’ve learned about psychotropic medications, medical conditions that have psychiatric symptoms or present with symptoms of other mental health disorders, and collaborating with other medical professionals have helped me become a better psychologist. I also learned a LOT about advocating for the profession of psychology at the state and federal level, which also makes me a better psychologist and ultimately advocate for my patients.

I strongly encourage anyone and everyone to complete this training! Although it can sound overwhelming, the support and encouragement of being in a learning environment with psychologists practicing all over the country is exhilarating. There is such a great safety net to minimize any chance of failure. If you have questions about the academic programs (now I’ve done two of them!!), supervised experience, or anything about integrated care using psychotherapy and medication, please don’t hesitate to contact me ([email protected]).

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Comments on "My Road to RxP - NMSU"

Comments 0-5 of 3

Scott Young - Tuesday, May 25, 2021

We owe you, Dr. Lonning, and Dr. Febbraro a debt of gratitude that cannot be overemphasized. Thank you for all the work you have done, and for your perseverance starting again Dr. Payne. - Scott.

Valerie Keffala - Monday, April 19, 2021

Thank you, Brenda! I appreciate learning more about the RxP program and process!

Eric Field - Monday, March 29, 2021

This sounds interesting. Is there anything you'd like to see the Psychopharmacology Committee do in the future? Also would you recommend this training for school psychologists?

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