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How I Became a Prescribing Psychologist

I was 47 years old when Illinois became the third state to allow licensed psychologists to prescribe. I remember the day so well...

It was 2014. I found out the law had passed thanks to the Illinois Psychological Association's (IPA) newsletter. I have been a Clinical Psychologist since 1995 and worked in many different capacities as a psychologist. I immediately contacted Dr. Beth Rom-Rymer, President of the IPA at the time, to discuss what this change meant and if I would be a good candidate. Within two weeks, I had registered with Alliant International University/California School of Professional Psychology to begin my journey!

What It Takes

Of the six states that allow prescribing psychologists (New Mexico, Louisiana, Illinois, Iowa, Idaho, and Colorado), Illinois’ requirements are the most robust:

  1. Be a Licensed Psychologist in the State of Illinois

  2. Earn a Masters in Psychopharmacology (MSCP) from an APA-approved program

  3. Take undergraduate science prerequisites (if you haven't already done so), which include: Chemistry with labs (2 semesters); Microbiology with labs (1 semester); Medical Terminology; Anatomy and Physiology; Human Anatomy; Human Physiology; and Biology

  4. Pass the PEP (Psychopharmacology Exam for Psychologists, a national exam)

  5. Do medical rotations in 9 specialties for no less than 14 months and no greater than 28 months in:

    • Emergency medicine

    • Family practice

    • Internal medicine

    • Obstetrics and Gynecology

    • Surgery

    • Psychiatry

    • Geriatrics

    • Pediatrics

    • An elective speciality

Then you apply for licensure.

My Support System

My personal life at the time was interesting as well; I had one child at the tail end of grammar school and one finishing up middle school, with my husband working out of state. I remember sitting down with my family and discussing my decision. My husband and children couldn't have been more supportive and they were happy to pick up the slack at home.

I think it was a wonderful learning experience for my children and I think I was a great role model for them. I recall having to leave at 4am in the winter and drive 45 minutes to my Emergency Medicine rotation. I would leave my kids instructions before I took off for the day and they stepped up to the plate!

Medical Rotations as a Psychologist

Altogether, it was a 5-year journey. I completed the MSCP in two years, while at the same time taking undergraduate science courses, working, and raising my family. After that, I was ready to study for the PEP exam... but it wasn’t without its hiccups. Three weeks before the exam, I slipped and broke my right wrist. I took the exam with a cast on — and passed!

Then I had to find rotations. Since there were only a few of us in Illinois, it was no easy task to find sites and doctors willing to be our preceptors.

Alexian Brothers/Ascension (one of the largest health systems in Illinois) agreed to be a pioneer in this endeavor and I ended up doing my rotations with them. I found myself educating the physicians around me, many of whom didn't even know about the law passing.

With each rotation, I discovered how beneficial it was to have a psychologist embedded in various specialty sites. Patients were pleased and we all worked together as a team. It was a total mind/body, biopsychosocial approach to treating patients.

Ascension later hired me to be the Program Manager and mentor for the Prescribing Psychology Fellowship program that I helped develop, which has been a hugely rewarding experience. I work for the health system once a week, the first prescribing psychologist to do so.

Why My MSCP Has Been Worth It

I've been licensed for over 3 years now and it has opened up so many wonderful doors! I can now do a full biopsychosocial evaluation with my patients — and the prescription pad is not the first tool that I reach for. I have the luxury of time with my patients (whom I see for at least 45 minutes each session), so I can fully educate them on their medication options and collaborate to determine the best course of action.

Overall, this has been a tremendous growth experience because I have so much more knowledge to offer my patients. I am feeling rewarded and fulfilled by being a part of the institution that helped train me.

I am also the Secretary for the Illinois Association for Prescribing Psychologists, a wonderful organization founded by Dr. Rom-Rymer, where colleagues get together to educate and get the word out around the world about the benefits of Prescribing Psychologists in the healthcare arena.

How You Can Get Involved

According to a June 2023 APA report, there are seven U.S. states with pending bills. Several other states are working hard to get bills passed as well.

For those who are in states where prescribing is not yet available, talk to your state psychological association (Division 55 is the prescribing division for APA) and/or connect with Dr. Beth Rom-Rymer through the Illinois Association for Prescribing Psychologists to become a member. Despite the name, we have members from all over the country and the world!

Please feel free to reach out to me regarding Empathic, as I use the software program for both of my practices. Please also reach out regarding our Prescribing Psychology Fellowship at Ascension Illinois!

Contact information:

(630) 321-9809


About the Author

Dr. Boules received her BA from Loyola University of Chicago and her MA and Psy.D. from Forest Institute of Professional Psychology. She completed her APA-approved Pre-doctoral Internship at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Dr. Boules is the 5th Licensed Prescribing Psychologist in the state of Illinois and has been a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in Illinois for over 25 years.

Dr. Boules was recognized in Hinsdale Living Magazine’s 2021 “Power Women” feature. Dr. Boules was also acknowledged in Hinsdale Living Magazine’s “Premier Doctors” 2022 issue.

Dr. Boules is the Founder, President, and CEO of Boules Clinical Psychology Group PLLC, in Burr Ridge, IL.

Dr. Boules is also the co-founding owner and partner (alongside Dr. Brandi Boan) for Optimal Vitality Concierge, PLLC, a cash-based practice that offers patients both flexibility and privacy.


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