I’m a Psychologist. How Do I Get Prescribing Authority in Illinois?

Both patients and providers benefit when a practice offers a range of therapies. Find out how licensed clinical psychologists in Illinois can obtain the license needed to write prescriptions for their clients.

Psychiatrist prescribing medication to a patient.

Traditionally, psychologists do not prescribe medications. However, licensed clinical psychologists in Illinois may be able to take advantage of the state’s unique licensing program for prescribing psychologists. Changes implemented in 2019 have provided more clarity and flexibility in the licensing process. 

What’s a “Prescribing Psychologist”?

Prescribing psychologists are just that—psychologists who can prescribe medication. Illinois is one of only five states to offer such a license. The state allows existing clinical psychologists to become prescribing psychologists after completing advanced psychopharmacology coursework and training.

What’s the benefit of being a prescribing psychologist?

This license can benefit both patients and providers. Prescribing psychologists can combine pharmacological approaches with their existing therapy practice. They no longer need to outsource all their patients to a psychiatrist for mental health medication. Meanwhile, patients who have already built relationships with their psychologist don’t need to add another health care provider to their care team. A prescribing psychologist simplifies the process for receiving comprehensive mental health treatment. 

What are the requirements to become a prescribing psychologist in Illinois? 

The educational requirements include coursework at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Applicants must show proof of completing:

  • specific undergraduate biomedical prerequisites, such as medical terminology, biochemistry, and human physiology
  • sixty (60) hours of advanced coursework in psychopharmacology
  • A 14-month clinical training course

After the completion of coursework, applicants must also pass the Psychopharmacology Examination for Psychologists (PEP). 

The 2019 changes included expanding the options for clinical training settings. Clinical rotations may now be completed in hospitals, outpatient clinics, community mental health clinics, and correctional facilities, to name a few.

How do I apply for prescribing authority?

After completing the requirements, you can apply for a license through the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). You’ll need proof of coursework completion and certification of your clinical training. The application fee is $150.

What if I’m already a prescribing psychologist in another state?

You can apply for a license through endorsement, which allows prescribing psychologists from other states to receive their Illinois license without redoing all the required work. You must be able to prove that you completed comparable educational, testing, and training requirements previously in another state. The fee for a license by endorsement is $100. 

What happens after I receive my license to prescribe medicine?

Before prescribing in Illinois, you must form a working relationship with a collaborating physician by written agreement. Your collaborating physician will delegate prescribing authority to you. You must also meet additional continuing education requirements for prescribing psychologists on top of your existing clinical psychology requirements. 

The 2019 changes also included adding prescribing psychologists to the list of approved telehealth professionals in Illinois. Prescribing psychologists can now provide pharmacological help to patients via telehealth practices.

Are there any limitations on practicing as a prescribing psychologist? 

Prescribing psychologists are still limited in their authority to write prescriptions. They may only prescribe medication for the treatment of mental health or illness. Additionally, there are several groups exempt from being prescribed medication by a psychologist, namely patients who:

  • are less than age 17 or over age 65
  • are pregnant
  • have serious medical conditions or developmental/intellectual disabilities.

Finally, prescribing psychologists cannot prescribe narcotics. They can, however, prescribe certain non-narcotic Schedule III, IV, and/or V controlled substances by applying for an additional “Prescribing Psychologist Mid-Level Practitioner Controlled Substances License.” The license fee is $5. As a result of having prescriptive authority, prescribing psychologists take on the responsibility of preventing prescription medication abuse or misuse. This may also necessitate new compliance needs. 

An experienced healthcare attorney such as you’ll find at Jackson LLP can help you develop your compliance plan and ensure that your practice avoids needless liability as you expand your services. To schedule a complimentary consultation, visit our online booking portal or click the button below.

This blog is made for educational purposes and is not intended to be specific legal advice to any particular person. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between our firm and the reader. This blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.

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