A beginner's guide: Understanding the credentialing and privileging process

Daunted by the credentialing and privileging process? Here's how it works - and what Global Medical Staffing can do to make the process easier.

By Kari Redfield

Dr. Seth A. Reiner had always wanted to work in another country, but it seemed like a long shot to find a surgical locum tenens assignment in the location of his choice: New Zealand. To his surprise, Global Medical Staffing found just what he was looking for.

That was when the real work began, he says. "I had no idea how complicated this task [licensing, visa, and credentialing and privileging] would be," Dr. Reiner explains. "No way could I have gone through the process without Global Medical Staffing!"

It's something we often hear, and taking on as much of these processes as possible is part of how we help make everything easy for our doctors. In addition to securing the assignment, we also secure medical licenses, visas, and housing as well as facilitate the credentialing and privileging process.

How the credentialing and privileging process works
We begin the credentialing and privileging process by first prepopulating the privileging application, and then we work with our physicians to finish the application properly. We also guide our physicians in gathering all of their credentials.

Once that's complete, the healthcare facility starts processing the application and begins the credentialing process of obtaining verification of education, training, certificates, and licensure from each primary source, which can take time.

"We do the legwork, including ushering along the verifications so that our busy physicians don't have to," says Tammy Carlson, hospital privileging coordinator. "This includes following up with each former place of employment and medical school, and it means handling all of the back and forth. We know our physicians are really busy, so we do everything we can to make everything easier."

Domestic assignments
The timeframe for credentialing and privileging is often about three months for physicians taking a locum tenens assignment within the U.S. Physicians also need licenses in every state in which they work, which our licensing department works on before we begin the privileging process.

International assignments
For international assignments, we facilitate the medial registration, work visa, and credentialing and privileging all within the same department to make everything as seamless as possible.

"Credentialing and privileging in Guam is similar to how it works for a domestic assignment, but it's more work and involves more hoops to jump through," says Amy Woods, senior international placement coordinator, "and many steps are unique to each location or country."

Guam, Bermuda, Saipan
Licensing and privileging in Guam, Bermuda, and Saipan is similar to the domestic process. In Guam, how long licensing and credentialing and privileging takes depends on the type of license. Guam requires a full medical license if a physician goes for longer than three months and a temporary license for less than three months.

"If we can submit the application at the right time of the month to get on the agenda of Guam's monthly medical council meeting, we can cut that timeframe down to two months to secure both the temporary license and privileges. The full medical license, plus privileges, takes longer, often three months," Woods explains. "Saipan and Bermuda are similar to Guam, but Saipan's process is easier."

New Zealand
There are several things that we have to do to secure a medical registration in New Zealand. The process starts with primary source verification of the physician's qualifications followed by medical registration and work visa, and then travel and housing, which can take three to four months.

"There are a variety of steps and so much paperwork and follow through, including all of the logistics of getting the physician to their final destination," Woods points out.

Despite the amount of paperwork required, we have vast experience in New Zealand, know the process, and can expedite our physicians through the red tape as quickly as possible, often securing licensing, and visa in about three months.

The processes to get a medical license, visa, and privileges in Australia also involve many government forms, applications, mountains of paper work, and follow through by our team. Like New Zealand, the process starts with primary source verification of the physician's qualifications followed by medical registration, which takes three to four months. Then, once approved, we apply for the work visa.

Even with our expertise and experience, it takes six to eight months to go through the entire process from the time we get paperwork back from a physician.

"It's a bear of a process to get someone there," Woods says, "but we never discourage anyone from going to Australia. The process is not a negative thing; it just takes longer, and we're here to jump through the hoops for our physicians."

It takes six months or more to get a doctor through all of the hoops, and every province is somewhat different in their processes. With Canada, the process starts with a pre-assessment completed by the specialty college in the province where the physician is applying. This process also includes primary source verification of the physician's qualifications. Once we have the outcome of the pre-assessment and primary source verification, we can take the next steps to determine medical registration. Then, once approved, we apply for the work visa.

"It's the most complicated country we've worked in so far," Woods says.

Our team makes the process easier
When it comes to credentialing and privileging, along with all the other requirements, rest easy knowing that we take on as much of the process as we can. As Dr. Reiner points out, our knowledge and follow through pay off.

"There was so much complicated paperwork and so many organizations to deal with halfway around the world. What a daunting task! I commend Amy and her staff for their communication, diligence, organization, dedication, enjoyment of what they do, great work ethic, and ‘get the job done' attitude," Dr. Reiner adds. "And now, I can't wait to leave on this trip, and I really owe a mountain of thanks to Amy and everything she did to make this happen."

Want to work in another country and live like a local for a while? Click here to see what opportunities are currently available around the globe.
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