An Easier Way to Practice in a New State: The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact

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By Mark A. Kellner

Are you interested in expanding your medical horizons? Would you like to practice in a new state but you're not sure how to get licensed there? How helpful would it be to have access to a streamlined licensing system?

There's good news, and it's fairly recent: As of April, 2017, the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, or IMLC, began issuing licenses to M.D.s and D.O.s already licensed in one of 19 states. And, more states (and the District of Columbia) are on the way to enacting legislation enabling IMLC licensing. According to those behind the issue, it's taken five years of work to get the project up and running.

"The launch of the Compact will empower interested and eligible physicians to deliver high-quality care across state lines to reach more patients in rural and underserved communities," said Humayun Chaudhry, DO, MACP, president and CEO of the Federation of State Medical Boards. "This is a major win for patient safety and an achievement that will lessen the burden being felt nationwide as a result of our country's physician shortage."

But it's also a positive for those wishing to practice locum tenens in another IMLC-participating state, because it smooths the way for licensure in the new state. The first application for an Interstate Medical License was received on April 8 from a physician in Wisconsin. Their Colorado license was approved 12 days later. Although it should be noted that timeframes vary depending on the state you're interested in and your background.

What makes the speed possible? Compact member states rely on the information a physician gave when applying for a license in their current state, called the State of Principal Licensure, or SPL. Leveraging this information, certified by the SPL as part of the application process, clears the way for another member state to issue a license quickly.

According to the IMLC Commission, the Compact "is an agreement between [19] states and the 23 Medical and Osteopathic Boards in those states. ...Licensed physicians can qualify to practice medicine across state lines within the Compact if they meet the agreed upon eligibility requirements. Approximately 80 [percent] of physicians meet the criteria for licensure through the IMLC."

Along with speeding up the application process, the IMLC agreement offers a centralized system for licensure. A 12-day approval of a new medical license is proof the new system works.

At deadline, the IMLC has been approved by legislatures in 19 states: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. According to http://www.imlcc.org, legislation has also been introduced in the states of Georgia, Michigan, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.

Here's how it works: a physician will submit an application to the IMLC, along with evidence of their good standing as a licensed physician in their SPL. The IMLC charges a $700 fee to process your application. This cost is in addition to the state fees of where you're applying to be licensed.

Once the physician passes a criminal background check, for which a fingerprint scan is required, and authorities in the SPL certify a physician is in fact in good standing and does not face any disciplinary action, controlled substance action or is under investigation, they receive a "Letter of Qualification," which, along with state licensing fees, goes to the desired state medical board. (If the process determines an applicant is not qualified, applicants will be informed of the reasons for that finding by the SPL, as well as what recourse may exist to resolve any issues.)

According to the IMLC, licenses are issued relatively quickly once the Letter of Qualification is in hand. (State fees range from $75 in Alabama and Wisconsin to $700 in Illinois.)

Again, it's worth noting the IMLC Commission estimates 80 percent of physicians qualify for the process. That means, of course, a great possibility that you might be able to act on a locum tenens opportunity more quickly.

To learn more, and to begin the process, contact your placement specialist at Global Medical Staffing today. We're here to help you move forward with state licensure and begin your next medical adventure.
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