interstate medical licensure compact: what it means for you

  • career advice
  • May 22, 2017

The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact was designed to provide expedited licensing to qualified physicians who want to practice medicine in more than one state. Although the compact is not yet implemented in every state, it promises to improve the licensure process for physicians as it continues to evolve. 

what is the interstate medical licensure compact?

The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact is a contract among states that was developed by the Federation of State Medical Boards in hopes of improving the efficiency of the licensure process for licensed physicians seeking additional licensure in other states. The FSMB released the official guidelines for the Compact in September 2014. 

how does the interstate medical licensure compact work?

States that have implemented the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact agree to share information and work together to streamline the licensing process for physicians. At the time of publication, states participating in the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact include Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Other states are expected to adopt the Compact soon. 

Licenses are now being issued under the Compact, which allows physicians an alternate pathway to licensure that will provide them with the same full, unrestricted license they would have received through the state's standard licensure process. 

Keep in mind that the Compact does not provide a single license that is valid in multiple states. Physicians will still need to complete an application for each state in which they hope to practice. However, the process will be faster and more efficient. 

why is the compact necessary?

The national physician shortage remains a serious concern in the medical community, both in urban and rural areas. The problem was exacerbated by the influx of more patients into the healthcare system resulting from the Affordable Care Act. The goal of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact is to make it easier and faster for doctors to obtain licenses in multiple states so that they can travel or use telemedicine to serve the influx of new ACA-related patients, as well as patients in rural communities. 

Some of the benefits of an effective, multistate licensure compact may include:

  • Access to a larger pool of physicians for hospitals and other healthcare facilities 
  • A faster, less cumbersome licensure process for physicians practicing in multiple states 
  • Growth of telemedicine
  • Better quality care for patients in underserved or rural areas 

The Compact will also help locum tenens physicians obtain licensure so they can accept assignments in multiple states.

can I obtain licensure through the compact?

The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact is not yet issuing medical licenses. However, surveys have shown that approximately 80 percent of licensed physicians in the United States should be able to qualify for licensure under the Compact once it becomes available. The requirements for licensure under the Compact will be as follows:

  • Passing score on the COMLEX, USMLE or an equivalent exam in three attempts or fewer. 
  • Successful completion of a graduate medical education program. 
  • Possession of a full, unrestricted medical license in a Compact state. 
  • Possession of a time unlimited specialty certificate or a specialty certification. 
  • No discipline related to controlled substances. 
  • No discipline on any state medical license. 
  • No pending investigation by any law enforcement agency or licensing agency. 

how much will a medical license cost through the interstate medical licensure compact?

Physicians will still be required to pay the fees required by each state when submitting applications submitted. However, it is possible that some states may choose to charge reduced fees for licenses obtained under the Compact once the process is fully established. 

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