Physician Compact Nears 3,500 License Milestone

More and more physicians are recognizing the benefit of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC), whether planning to work locum tenens, serve as a telemedicine provider or pick up work in an adjoining state.

“It’s an efficient process,” said Marschall S. Smith, executive director of the Interstate Medical Licensing Compact Commission in Littleton, Colorado. “Physicians can get their licenses with a quick turnaround.”

Launched in April 2017, the physician compact enables most physicians to obtain multiple state licenses from participating compact states. As of mid-November 2018, member state medical boards have issued 3,426 medical licenses to physicians participating in the IMLC.

“[Passing the 3,000 license mark] was pretty exciting,” Smith said.

Many of the physicians are practicing telemedicine, including radiologists, he added. Some physicians are obtaining licenses in bordering states, while others are pursuing locum tenens opportunities in states that may be nearby or across the country. Some locum tenens staffing agencies, like Staff Care, are assisting with the process, Smith said.

“It allows them to fulfill physician needs quickly,” Smith added. “A lot of physicians are getting one or two additional licenses.”

The IMLC Commission has processed 1,867 applications and 497 licenses have been renewed through the compact during the same time period.

Humayun Chaudhry, DO, president and CEO of the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), indicated in a statement that reducing barriers to practicing in multiple states is allowing qualified physicians to reach more patients and improve access to care.

Participation in the IMLC

Twenty-four states, the District of Columbia and Guam have enacted legislation to join the compact. Tennessee will become active on January 1, 2019. Additionally, in Michigan, compact legislation remains under consideration by the state senate. Many of the current compact states are in the West and Midwest.

“Our first nine months were proof of concept,” Smith said. “It is a useful process, people will use it and we found it an effective way to make this work. I think we will see states that took a wait-and-see approach jump in.”

The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Commission governs the physician compact. Each member state appoints two representatives to serve on the commission.

The physician compact maintains state control of licensure, while offering physicians an opportunity to quickly obtain and hold multiple state licenses. States in the compact must share complaints or investigative information about physicians with each other.


About 80 percent of physicians in the United States meet the criteria for licensure through the compact.

The physician must hold a full, unrestricted medical license in a compact member state that is available to serve as a State of Principal Licensure (SPL), and meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Have a primary residence in the SPL;
  • Practice at least 25 percent of the time in the SPL;
  • Work for an employer in the SPL; or
  • List the SPL as a state of residence for federal tax purposes

  • Smith encouraged physicians to check at the IMLC website to confirm they meet all of the qualifications before applying. The $700 application fee is nonrefundable.

    Physicians should complete the application themselves, Smith advised, and not delegate it to a staff member. It must be completely correct, such as documenting a full middle name. Additionally, the physician should list his or her email address, again not an employee email.

    Many locum tenens agencies will help pay for the process, depending on assignment needs.

    “We care about who fills out the application, not who pays for it,” Smith said.

    The SPL will verify the application and issue a Letter of Qualification, which is valid for 365 days. Once that letter is in hand, the physician can select the desired multiple state licenses through the IMLC and pay the state’s licensure fees, which range from $75 to $700. Those states will then issue a license.

    The physician must complete continuing medical education as required by each state of licensure and follow all laws and regulations of the state where he or she is practicing.

    “It’s a good process,” Smith said. “We’ve been talking with other healthcare professions who are looking at forming compacts. It’s an important development and the next phase of licensure in the health care field.”

    The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact 

    STAFF CARE can match you with locum tenens opportunities and help obtain any necessary licenses in your state of choice; CONTACT US today to get started.



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