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Member Spotlight - February 2017
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February 2017 Member Spotlight

Jennifer Darakjy, PhD, ABMP



  

  1. What do you currently do for a living? I consider my most important job to be a mother of three wonderful children and military spouse for 23 great years.  In my “free time” I perform medication management, disability and employment evaluations, psychological testing, and therapy.  I am licensed and board certified Medical/Prescribing Psychologist in New Mexico, School Psychologist in New Mexico, and Clinical Psychologist in Texas.  I travel throughout New Mexico and Texas in order to perform contract work, and I have a private practice (Rx Psychological Services) that is located in Santa Teresa, New Mexico.

  2. What would you want your colleagues to know about the role of a psychologist in psychopharmacology? As a medical/prescribing psychologist, my role is not only to prescribe psychotropic medication, but also to un-prescribe medication.  Sometimes patients can be tapered off of medication(s) in order to improve mood and behavior.  Furthermore, the beauty of being a psychologist is that our skill set includes such things as psychological testing and coping strategies that enhance assessment and treatment.  Our training is extensive and comprehensive, and our patient’s benefit.

  3. What publication/book/blog do you recommend others read if they want to learn more about integrated healthcare? There are a number of sites, but the grandaddy is SAMSA HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions.  This federal center provides many resources and free training: http://www.integration.samhsa.gov/

  4.  What is an area where you see the profession of psychology growing in the near future? I believe that psychopharmacology is a growing field in behavioral health.  There is a national shortage of psychiatrists, and an abundance of behavioral health problems.  As a prescribing psychologist in New Mexico, I am aware of the number of people who are Texas residents on the border with New Mexico, and who seek services from prescribing psychologists in New Mexico due to the shortage of psychiatrists in El Paso and the surrounding area.  New Mexico prescribing psychologists have demonstrated, since 2002, that prescribing psychologists are safe and effective providers of psychotropic medications in addition to providing additional psychological services.  The number of prescribing psychologists in New Mexico continues to increase, and there are other prescribing psychologists like myself who reside and/or are licensed as psychologists in Texas, and who would practice psychopharmacology in Texas if the law permitted.  The critical shortage of psychiatrists puts the citizens of Texas at risk, and legislation that would allow appropriately trained prescribing psychologists to practice in Texas would provide more of the critically needed services to the citizens of Texas.  This has been effectively demonstrated in New Mexico, Louisiana, the United States Uniformed Services, and Indian Health Service.  Furthermore, Illinois and Iowa have recently passed similar legislation, and it is presumable additional states will follow.

    Currently, Texas State Representative Dustin R. Burrows has filed House Bill 593, legislation aimed at providing Texans critically needed access to mental health medications prescribed by specially trained licensed psychologists. Right now, over 80% of mental health medications are prescribed by primary care physicians or ER doctors, resulting in long wait times and higher costs for the patient. Delays continue when medications need to be adjusted, changed or discontinued.

    "This bill will allow psychologists specially trained in psychopharmacology to prescribe mental health medications, and will make it easier for those suffering with mental health disorders to access effective care in a timely manner. Prescribing psychologists are waiting to help, but until the law allows it, the citizens of Texas do not have this option. This bill will allow the consumers of Texas - particularly those in rural areas with limited access to care --  to have another choice for mental health prescriptions; a provider with more mental health education than any other current prescriber" according to Burrows.

  5.  How has TPA contributed to your development as a psychologist? TPA has provided me with enhanced knowledge in the field of psychology.  I have particularly enjoyed the ethics and cross cultural courses I have attended.  

  6. What is your most memorable experience as a TPA member? In 2013, I flew to Austin in order to volunteer at Legislative Day and Mental Health Fair Day.  It was a wonderful way to provide service and network with Texas colleagues. 
 
              

This year's TPA member spotlight series will be highlighting . If you would like to recommend yourself or a colleague to be featured, please email Lauren Witt at tpa_lwitt@att.net. 

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