With a Psychology Degree, Coalition Fights for Expanded Scope of Practice for Healthcare Professionals

In response to the American Medical Association’s recent Scope of Practice Initiative, 33 organizations of licensed healthcare professionals have joined together to form the Coalition for Patients’ Rights. According to CPR, the AMA initiative was formed to limit patients’ access to their choice of healthcare professionals. It has the potential to severely limit the scope of practice for professionals who have earned their Master of Science in Psychology and intend to practice in the field of healthcare.

CPR defines scope of practice as “the range of health care-related activities and services which a healthcare professional is educated, certified or licensed to provide.” For example, a psychiatrist who has completed medical school can legally prescribe medications, whereas a professional with a Master of Science in Psychology may not prescribe medication in most states.

Limiting the scope of practice of qualified health practitioners can significantly reduce patients’ access to proper care. A recent article in Monitor on Psychology noted that the average wait to see a psychiatrist in the state-run health insurance system TennCare is twelve weeks. Allowing those patients to see a healthcare professional with a Master of Science in Psychology or a PhD in Psychology instead could dramatically cut down wait times, thereby improving patient care.

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It is interesting to note that organized psychiatry resisted the ability of graduates with a Master of Science in Psychology to see patients independently in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The scope of practice for psychologists has been expanding over the decades and has even grown to include the permission to prescribe medication in Louisiana and New Mexico. This is an exciting trend for the profession of psychology and even better news for patients who cannot afford the services of a psychiatrist.

The demand for professionals with a Master of Science in Psychology is expected to grow faster than other professions through the year 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Individuals who are emotionally stable, compassionate, able to communicate effectively, and capable of leading people are most likely to succeed in the profession. Many aspiring professionals are choosing to attend distance education programs in order to maintain current responsibilities while completing coursework. Advances in technology have allowed schools such as Capella University to offer a variety of high quality, specialized programs in areas such as their Master of Science in Clinical Psychology, Counseling Psychology, and General Psychology. Prospective students are encouraged to visit College-Pages.com for a complete list of available programs.

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