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PCCYFS Position Statement: On-going Shortage of Psychiatrists in PA Available to Treat Children

There is a dire need for Pennsylvania to approve physician extenders to address psychiatrist shortages

PRESS RELEASE: A new position statement released by Pennsylvania Council of Children, Youth and Family Services (PCCYFS) addresses Psychiatrist shortages throughout the state. There is a dire need for Pennsylvania to approve Physician extenders such as:

  • Certified Registered Nurse Practitioners (CRNP’s)
  • Certified Nurse Practitioners (CNP’s)
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (PMH-APRN’s)
  • Physician Assistants (PA’s)
  • Psychologists

to prescribe medication to youth. These changes would assist with diminishing long waitlists for psychiatric appointments for children, reduce long distances some must travel for appointments, and reduce the number of children whose mental and behavioral health needs become more profound.

Senate Bill 25, which looks at the Modernization of the Professional Nursing Law, was approved by the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee as of June 16, 2021. This bill needs support from child serving organizations as well as local and state leaders in order to make this needed psychiatric extension service accessible to the most vulnerable population of youth.

“Not every child needs a psychiatrist but for those most vulnerable children who do, they go without the help they need thus the reason suicide is growing amongst our adolescent age group” says Terry Clark, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Council of Children, Youth & Family Services.  “Allowing physician extenders in Pennsylvania will save children’s lives.”

8.1.2023 UPDATE – In regards to PCCYFS’ effort to advocate for physician extenders to have rights to independently prescribe medication to help alleviate psychiatric shortage, the following updates are available: While no action has been taken on SB 25 (Modernization of the Professional Nursing Law) after being referred to Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee on 3.3.2023, a new bill was introduced by Representative Frankel. HB 1000 (Prescription Privlidges for Psychologists) was referred to Professional Licensure committee as of 6.23.23. PCCYFS is in support of this and submitted a letter of support to the Professional Licensure committee (see below).