Upfront

Twenty-one Dutch psychologists are halfway through a two-year postdoctoral master's degree in psychopharmacology offered by New Mexico State University—a first step toward advocating for prescriptive authority for appropriately trained psychologists in the Netherlands.

The effort started in 2008, when Hans Schutz, PhD, of the Netherlands Institute of Psychology, contacted Elaine LeVine, PhD, New Mexico's first civilian prescribing psychologist and training director for the NMSU psychopharmacology program. Dutch psychologists want prescription privileges for the same reasons American psychologists do: to improve treatment since there are too few psychiatrists outside of major cities.

Like some psychologists in the United States, some Dutch psychologists are already playing an informal role in monitoring medication prescribed for mental health conditions because they work closely with physicians in primary-care centers as part of an integrated approach to health care.

Starting last September, NMSU faculty started traveling to the Netherlands to teach the first introductory sessions of what will be four major units of instruction over two years, says LeVine. Students also complete assigned reading, watch lectures on DVD, work through online course materials and participate in online, interactive discussion sessions, she says.

Next April, students will come to New Mexico for a two-week practicum, each shadowing a prescribing psychologist who meets with patients, LeVine says.

Along with Louisiana, New Mexico is one of the two states that allow prescriptive authority to psychologists who have completed a psychopharmacology training program and passed a national certification exam. Efforts are under way in a number of states to push for prescriptive authority this year, says Deborah Baker, JD, director for prescriptive authority and regulatory affairs for APA's Practice Directorate.

—C. Munsey