By Jennifer Larson, contributor Dec 07, 2020
Thinking about taking a locum tenens job
sometime in the near future?
If so, it’s a good idea to take stock of your
medical license situation, whether you are a physician or advanced practice
provider. Depending on where you want to work, you may have to apply for an
additional state medical license in order to practice there.
Here’s another challenge: the application
process is more complex in some states than in others, and the time it takes to
receive a license varies, too.
“Since the licensure process differs from
state to state in non-pandemic time, it’s definitely a good idea to get started
on the process very early on and be aware of the average length of time it
takes to get a license specific to each state,” says Sheneen Lalani, DO, an
internal medicine hospitalist and palliative care/hospital physician who has worked
in several states as a locum tenens physician.
The bottom line: be proactive and start
early. When it comes to licensing as a locum tenens provider, you can’t wait
until you have a job offer in hand to start thinking about the process. In fact, it is best to contact a locum tenens recruiter to get guidance on how to go about your next steps. A locum tenens
company can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you, and may even cover some
Staff Care, for
instance, provides proactive licensing assistance. That means that if you want
to work in a state where you do not yet have a state license, the team will
work with the licensing board to help you through the process. And if you take
a position with them, they will cover the cost of the license.
organized so you’re ready
Physicians who apply for a new medical
license will have to supply the documentation and information required by that
state’s medical board. The same general process is required of nurse
practitioners, physician assistants and other providers who must go through the
state licensing board for their profession.
In the case of physicians, they must typically
provide proof that they’ve passed either the United States Medical Licensing
Examination (USMLE) or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing
Examination of the United States (COMLEX-USA), as well as documentation from
their medical school and graduate training. Some states will also require other
components as part of the application, such as exam scores, references and
information about past licensure.
When was the last time you pulled
together all of that information? If you don’t have it close at hand, take the
time now to assemble your documentation and keep it easily accessible, so you
don’t have to search for it when applying.
“All my information I keep on my laptop,
which is my primary computer,” says Alvin Murn, MD, an emergency medicine
physician who lives in North Carolina and works locum tenens assignments in
Kentucky and Pennsylvania.
The American Medical Association also
suggests asking state medical boards about their average processing time. That way, you can work ahead and incorporate
that timeframe into your plans. On average, you should plan for about 60 days,
according to the AMA.
Again, if you work with a locum tenens company
like Staff Care, your recruiter will assist you through the licensure process
for your state of choice. You have to supply the necessary information, but
they can help you with the application and may cover some of your fees.
Never been licensed? New physicians can
look up the requirements for initial medical
licensure by state on the Federation of State Medical Boards’ list.
the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact may help you
Looking for other ways to simplify the
process of getting a medical license in another state? If you live in a state
that participates in the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact
(IMLC), you’re in luck.
This agreement is designed to make it easier for you to apply for (and receive)
licenses in certain states. As of the end of October 2020, there were 32 states
participating in the compact, with Louisiana being the latest to join.
The compact essentially streamlines the
licensure process for physicians who live in a participating state and want to
practice medicine in other compact states. You must meet the compact’s
eligibility requirements, and the IMLC Commission must successfully verify your
qualifications. Then you can complete one application and choose the states for
which you wish to receive a license.
This expedites the process of getting
licenses that will allow you to practice medicine in other states for locum
When deciding on which states to select, it’s
worth considering your future plans. For example, have you been thinking about
one day pursuing a locum tenens opportunity in Arizona or Illinois? If you can
swing the costs associated with those additional licenses, it might be worth
going ahead and including them on your application.
“It allows physicians to have a little
more flexibility or ability to respond to opportunities that they didn’t see
would be there,” says Marschall Smith, executive director of the Interstate
Medical Licensure Compact Commission.
A growing number of physicians are
already getting multiple state medical licenses in order to facilitate locum
tenens work, telemedicine opportunities and more. According to the IMLC Commission,
20 percent of physician applicants obtain three or more licenses when they
apply, and 6 percent obtain seven or more at one time.
of proactive licensing can give you a definite advantage for certain jobs. The
IMLC helps speed up the licensure process in compact states, but when
quick-fill positions open up, having a license already in hand puts you in
prime position to say "yes."
State-by-State Medical Licenses and
The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact
Have an IMLC License? Start Working
STAFF CARE has locum
tenens opportunities for physicians and advanced practitioners across the U.S.,
and our team can help get you on your way.
Contact a Recruiter Now