Master’s Degree Program in Clinical Psychopharmacology

Master’s Degree Program in Clinical Psychopharmacology Word Document



Course # & Title:                  Class #23 – Day 1: 

Chronic Pain, Medical Illness and Prescribing Psychologists

(1/2 day)

Drug Groups for Chronic Illnesses (1/2 day)


Location:                                NMSU:  1220 Stewart St, Las Cruces, NM 

                                                O’Donnell Hall, Rm # 027


Class Meeting Date:              July 23, 2016 - Saturday


Instructor(s):                         Lia Billington, Ph.D.

                                                Mitchell Simson, M.D.


Required Text(s)

Ferrardo et al, (2010) Review pgs. 3-39; Read pgs. 39-78; 502-525

Use rest of text as a reference

Program Overview:  The program will begin with an orientation and overview of the didactic and practicum components required for graduation.  Throughout the ten didactic courses that make up the Master’s Degree Program students will have opportunities to apply principles learned to clinical cases through experiential assignments that increase in complexity as the students’ knowledge of psychopharmacology and the biopsychosocial model becomes more sophisticated.  Some of these experiential assignments will be based upon students’ existing patient populations.  Others will involve role-playing activities in classes.  Still others will involve the observation of actual clinical protocols.  Students will be given written exercises based upon these experiences that will be compiled into a clinical notebook of clinical based studies.  These assignments will be averaged with the students’ scores on objective tests to determine their grades for each class.


Course Description:  This course will provide an understanding of the prescribing psychologist’s role working with medical practitioners in the treatment of the chronically medically ill and/or pain patients. In order to successfully understand this topic, students will review basic principles of pharmacology.


Students will:

1.     List five common medical illnesses that are comorbid with mental disorders.

2.     Given a common illness of a major organ system, the student will be able to explain the basic mechanism of action of healing drugs for that illness.

3.     Using appropriate guidance from texts and online sources, given a description of a patient with a chronic illness and the drugs used for treating that medical illness, the student will be able to identify any possible dangerous interactions with the psychotropic drugs.

4.     The student will feel confident to discuss the balance between treating pain disorders and minimizing addiction with their patients.

5.     The student will list three ways that a prescribing psychologist may be helpful with medically ill and pain patients even though they are not prescribing medications for treating those conditions. 

6.     The student can define iatrogenic effects and give three examples of these effects with patients suffering from somatoform disorders.

Homework: The students will be presented with a complex case involving a patient with a chronic illness and pain and asked to respond to a question about that case.


Evaluation: There will be a test (multiple choice, short answer or true/false) which will be given at the end of the weekend.  Most questions will be taken from the lecture; 5 additional questions will be taken from the readings.  The answers will be reviewed in class.  Students’ case analyses will be graded with the expectation for a demonstration of high level competence of the biopsychosocial model of care.



Assignments                                                                                                   Points Possible

Tests (5 @ 12 pts ea, 90% = 12 pts, 80% =11 pts, 70% = 10 pts)                             60 pts.

Experiential case studies (30 pts)                                                                              30 pts.


Course grades-

70 pts total = “A” course grade

60 pts total =   “B” course grade

50 pts total =   “C” course grade


Students with Disabilities:  If you have or believe you have a disability, you may wish to self-identify.  You can do so by providing documentation to the Office for Services for Students with Disabilities, located at Garcia Annex (telephone: 646-6840). Appropriate accommodations may then be provided for you.  If you have a condition which may affect your ability to exit from the premises in an emergency or which may cause an emergency during class, you are encouraged to discuss this in confidence with the instructor and/or the director of Disabled Student Programs.  If you have questions about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), call 646-3635.