NM Legislative Update: Rules Change to Allow Psychologists to Prescribe Non-psychiatric Medications


The New Mexico legislature is tackling mental health services with SB127 and amended. In the vast majority of cases, psychologists cannot prescribe medications to their patients. However, there has been a recent push in several states to grant psychologists prescribing privileges, and there are actually already a few places where psychologists do have prescribing privileges.

This bill is a reworking of SB117, which passed unanimously by the house and senate in 2023 and contained the elements of SB 127 proposed to move licensure and regulation of prescribing psychologists from RLD and the psychology board to the medical board. This was driven by the prescribing psychologist professional association, which felt that their profession would be better served by a board that understands the practice of using medications to treat illness. SB117 from 2023 was pocket vetoed by the governor.

Psychologists are able to prescribe medications anywhere in the military and the Indian Health Service if they are credentialed in Louisiana or New Mexico. Psychologists can prescribe in five states: Louisiana, New Mexico, Illinois, Iowa, and Idaho.

Professional psychologists gained prescribing privileges in New Mexico in 2002 and in Louisiana in 2004. In 2014, Illinois became the third state to grant prescribing powers to psychologists who hold appropriate training. Iowa granted prescriptive authority to psychologists in 2016, and Idaho followed suit in 2017.

In such cases, psychologists are required to receive proper training and are permitted to prescribe certain medicines used in the treatment of mental disorders.

In New Mexico psychologists must complete 450 hours of didactic training and 400 hours of supervised practice in psychopharmacology.

Now under new legislation proposed SB127 broadens the scope of practice for prescribing psychologists, expands the pool of potential supervisors while learning the practice of psychopharmacology, includes prescribing psychologists as mandatory members of the psychology board and creates a mechanism for the psychology board and medical board to collaborate in evaluating licensing complaints against prescribing psychologists.

Each element is detailed as follows:Expanded scope of practice: Currently prescribing psychologists are limited to prescribing only medications approved for the treatment of mental disorders, but not the use of nonpsychiatric medications for the side effects these medications can cause. This bill expands their formulary to allow use these medications, as is commonly done in the practice of clinical psychopharmacology.

Also, prescribing psychiatrists can manage and prescribe injectable medications for mental illness but cannot physically administer these medications to patients. This bill allows for administering these medications, with appropriate training.

Expanding the pool of potential supervisors: While learning how to use medications in the treatment of mental illness, conditional prescribing psychiatrists may be supervised by a physician or nurse practitioner. This bill adds experienced (four years) practicing prescribing psychologists to this list, allowing them to serve as supervisors. 

This bill requires that two members of the psychology board be prescribing psychologists.

Currently there is no such requirement.

Finally, this bill creates a committee composed of two prescribing psychologist members of their board and two physician members of the medical board who will be charges with evaluating complaints against prescribing psychologists that come to the psychology board’s attention. The committee then will make findings and recommendations available for board action. The committee will also make recommendations for the education of prescribing psychologists. 

The bill next moves to the New Mexico House floor for consideration.

-Mica Maynard at the Roundhouse.

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