New technologies are improving physician communications and helping them provide better patient care. The popularity and practicality of telemedicine in particular, combined with the continually rising demand for physicians, means that physicians are seeing patients from wider geographic areas than historically possible.
Right now, physicians are required to be licensed in the state they practice (because, obviously we need formalized licensing), but consider the doctor in Kansas City, Missouri who treats patients living just across the river in Kansas City, Kansas. Or the psychiatrist who has implemented a telemedicine leg to her practice and wants to treat patients in multiple states? Should a few miles or a state line stand between patients and medical care? Should that stop physicians from pursuing new career opportunities?
Approximately 16% of U.S. licensed physicians already hold a license in two states and countless more see the value holding a license in multiple states – but applying for license state-by-state is a big barrier. If you recruit physicians for locum tenens opportunities, for instance, you’re all too familiar with multi-state licensing timelines and issues. If you’re recruiting for telemedicine opportunities you have to source candidates with multiple state licenses, and the process for obtaining a new state license is so rigorous and in demand that it can take as long as six months in some cases.
It’s time to make medical licenses portable
This is where the Interstate Medical Licensing Compact by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) comes in. The Compact is a voluntary measure that would make it much easier for physicians licensed in one state to treat patients in other states – either in person, by videoconference, or online. With its eight key consensus principles, the Compact is voluntary for states and physicians and strengthens public protection by enhancing the ability of states to share investigative and disciplinary information.
To participate in the Compact, a physician will have to identify a principal state of licensure (where the physician primarily practices or resides) and be board certified in a specialty. That state will be responsible for evaluating the physician’s credentials to participate in the compact. FSMB President and CEO Humayun J. Chaudhry, DO, MACP stated: “If a physician is interested in applying for licensure in other jurisdictions, it could be as simple as checking off those states he wants to practice in. He could then become eligible for a license in that state almost automatically, as long as the state was a member of the interstate compact.”
In a time when technology is omnipresent, a physician should be able to get a license in a few weeks but that’s just not the case right now. The Mayo Clinic Health System strongly supports better process for doctors to be licensed in many states, citing a reduction in time to get another license in another state could help their patients. "To allow Minnesota physician to get that Wisconsin License more efficiently, that's going to have a definite positive impact on our patient care,” said Dr. Dave Rushlow of the Mayo Clinic.
In an article for ENT Today, Jon V. Thomas, MD, MBA, managing partner of Ear, Nose and Throat SpecialtyCare and the immediate past chair of the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) says quick multi-state licensing would open up possibilities to otolaryngologists because of what they do with endoscopy. He says, “Any endoscopic evaluation or procedure that can be performed with an attached camera in a patient’s upper aerodigestive tract can be transmitted to anyone in the country.”
The Compact is being implemented in a growing number of states, with others expected to adopt it soon. Expediting licensing is not yet available, but will be available soon. To see which states have enacted or introduced the Compact, you’ll find an interactive map here. The FSMB also created a great video tutorial about the Compact.
Among the powerful tools you’ll find using Doximity Talent Finder is the ability to search by state license. If you’re not using it to source and recruit great physician candidates, try it now.