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18 Oct 2010

Physician License Eligibility: Exams & Certifications

Healthcare Licensing, Physician Licensing No Comments

The 10 Year Rule

It’s amazing how far one can get into a job search before even considering eligibility.  Unfortunately, many physicians will spend hours searching for jobs in a particular state only to find out later they’re not eligible for licensure with that state’s medical board.   Alternatives or waivers can be found in some instances but this is not always an option. Additionally, with the unique nature of each state’s regulations, it can be very frustrating trying to sort it out.  To simplify this, our next few blogs will focus on licensing eligibility as we seek to educate our clients about the different requirements for each medical board. Below are some useful facts to know as you consider your next state license. Of course you can call us at any time for a free eligibility check: 888-551-2140.
This week, we focus on the 10 year rule. In short, this simply means that you must have taken a qualified exam within the last 10 years to be considered eligible to apply.  Accepted exams include USMLE, any ABMS board certification (or recertification), or the SPEX exam (offered through the FSMB).  This won’t be a problem for most physicians who finished training within the last 10 years, although we strongly urge you to keep up on your board certification.  Where this comes up most frequently is with experienced physicians who trained more than 10 years ago and, more specifically, who have a lifetime certification with their boards.  In those instances, the only possible options are:

  • Recertify with your boards: considering the alternatives, this may be the easiest move if you need that license
  • Take the SPEX: this is a 1 day, proctored exam, but it is “general knowledge” so there is quite a bit of preparation as well as cost
  • Choose a different state: it may sound dramatic, but unless that license is a “must-have,” many physicians don’t feel options 1 or 2 are worth the effort

Below are the states that currently enforce the Ten Year Rule (please note the states with waivers or exceptions):

  • Alabama
  • Arizona***
  • Louisiana
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • North Carolina*
  • Nevada
  • Oregon*
  • South Carolina*
  • Texas
  • Utah** 
  • *These states have a waiver possible, if you’ve fulfilled 150 hours of category 1 CME within the last 3 years.  All CME hours must be completed before the application is submitted to the medical board
  • **Utah’s rule is actually 5 years, but a waiver is offered for board certified physicians
  • ***AZ will offer a waiver for current board certification

* This list is current as of 10/18/2010 and is subject to change. Please see State Requirements for the most updated information.
As always, please feel free to call us with any questions.  We’re always happy to review your situation and provide advice at no charge: 888-551-2140

About Physician Licensing Service

Now in our 14th year of business, Physician Licensing Service has been changing the face of healthcare licensure.  We have developed a proven system to remove the barriers common to state medical licenses and get doctors practicing in record time.  Our business model focuses on simplifying the process for all involved parties. This includes the state medical boards themselves, because PLS takes great care to keep abreast of their updates in this ever changing field, and work within those guidelines. For a doctor seeking a medical license, PLS will take on the entire process, including eligibility research, paperwork, verifications, and follow up.

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