The Oregon Legislature passed a bill that would grant prescriptive authority to appropriately trained and certified psychologists.

The measure passed Feb. 24 by a 48 to 9 vote in the House and by an 18 to 11 vote in the Senate two days earlier.

“It’s hugely significant — we’ve never gotten this far,” says psychology practitioner Robin Henderson, PsyD, who helped lead the push for prescriptive authority for the Oregon Psychological Association.

As the Monitor went to press, the legislation awaited action by Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D), whose options were signing the bill into law, vetoing it or doing nothing. If he takes no action within 30 days of receiving the bill, the legislation automatically becomes law.

If the law is enacted, a group of three psychologists and three psychiatrists will develop education and training recommendations by March 2011, for presentation to the Legislature’s 2011 session.

Under the measure, psychologists already granted prescriptive authority in other states, or trained through the Department of Defense’s Psychopharmacology Demonstration Project, could apply to the Oregon Medical Board for certification starting in July 2011. A committee of four psychologists and three psychiatrists will make recommendations for a formulary of medications.

If the law is enacted, Oregon will join Louisiana, New Mexico and Guam in allowing appropriately trained psychologists to prescribe.

—C. Munsey