One of the most challenging yet rewarding licenses is that of the medical physician. People who make it far enough to get their medical license have poured years of sweat and tears into their education.
The result is an official piece of paper that permits them to practice medicine without supervision. For many, that’s enough to make all the stress and energy worthwhile.
But getting your medical license doesn’t happen just because you graduated medical school, especially if you’re trying to get a job in the United States. Before you go any further, read this vital information that every physician aiming for a medical license should know.
Know How to Get a Medical License
1. Basic Licensure Requirements
As long as your education was with an accredited institution, they should have prepared you for everything you’d need to graduate. But that’s not all you’ll need to get your license, and in some places, it can be complicated.
To start, if you move states, you’ll need an unrestricted medical license in the new area. So, if you practice in multiple states, you must meet the licensure requirements of all of them.
This includes any exams, clinical training, continuing education requirements, and initial and annual recurring fees. This can get expensive, so carefully note where you’re setting up your practice.
Many physicians who don’t plan on staying in one place for a long choose to work for a healthcare facility or another provider. They wait until they move to set up their own practice.
2. The Application Process
You’ve been filling out paperwork for years now. How hard can an application be?
When it’s for a medical license, the answer is “very.” In fact, there are many physicians who make common mistakes and have their applications rejected more than once.
To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, go through the paperwork with a fine-tooth comb. Don’t miss any boxes or neglect to attach any piece of documentation requested.
Include the phone number and address of each educational institution you attended. These will be verified, and if the licensing agent can’t find the information, they aren’t required to look it up themselves.
You’ll also have to include copies of your exam scores and any professional references and letters of recommendation. Attach evidence of your hospital privileges and current or past licenses you held.
Store all of this documentation in a folder in your computer or locked file cabinet. If you must apply for licensing again in the future, you’ll have it in one place.
3. The Timelines to Pay Attention To
Getting your medical license can take a long time. If you need it quickly for a job you’re supposed to start next week or even next month, you’re probably going to be disappointed.
Start the process of applying for your license as soon as you have all the documentation required. It sounds like putting the cart before the horse to get a license in a state you don’t have a job in, but it’s necessary.
Don’t accept a job offer until you’re licensed to work in that state. You might assume it will take four to six weeks to get the approval. If you forgot something or are missing a state requirement, it will take much longer.
For instance, some states require you to have two or three years of postgraduate training before you can work independently. And not all states accept the same examinations for licensure.
The American Medical Association suggests creating an online portfolio with the Federation Credentials Verification Service. This will help streamline your application process and let you know what you need when you’re applying for a state’s license.
4. ECFMG Certification
The last hurdle to a medical license is the ECFMG Certification. Short for Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, this document applies to any international medical graduate (IMG).
IMGs are U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens who didn’t graduate in the States or Canada.
If you fall in this category, the ECFMG evaluates your education and background to determine if you’re eligible to apply for residency in the U.S.
When you’re deemed ready, you can apply for residency programs. These must be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
The ECFMG certification is required before you can take the medical licensing exam Step 3 in the U.S.
Without this test, you can’t hold an unrestricted license for practising medicine in the country.
You’ve already done the strenuous part and passed the education requirements to get your doctorate. Getting your medical license is the next obstacle to practising independently. Arm yourself with this information, and you’ll pass that challenge, too.