12 January 2015
Whether you are a physician attaining your first medical license, or are a more experienced doctor interested in acquiring a subsequent license in a different state, the process can be challenging to navigate. For example, you may find yourself wondering what states you should get your license in and when you should start applying, and without much guidance, these answers may be difficult to come by. According to Nicole Soler, a Director within The Execu|Search Group’s Physician Recruitment division, this is a conversation she has had with many candidates, and a topic that she believes all physicians – regardless of whether they are actively looking for a job – should be educated on. “You never know when you will need to look for a new job, a great opportunity arises in a state you do not currently practice in, or other circumstances require you to relocate, and the last thing you want is your lack of license to delay your job search or start date,” warns Nicole. “This is why it’s not only important for residents coming out of training to be up-to-date on licensing guidelines, but more experienced physicians as well.” Though state licensing varies from state to state, here are 3 general guidelines that Nicole advises her candidates on: 1. Know what states to get your license in: If you practice, or are planning to practice in a location that is easily commutable to another state, it’s a good idea to get licensed in the other state. For example, if you work in New York, consider getting licensed in close states such as New Jersey and Connecticut. Doing so will not only open up the parameters of any future job searches, but also make you more desirable to employers in those states. 2. Understand when to apply for your license: If you are a resident, don’t make the mistake of applying for your license at the same time you start applying to jobs. “You should really start thinking about where you want to practice during your second year of residency,” advises Nicole. The same concept applies to practicing physicians looking to relocate. According to Nicole, “When making a move, it’s important to either have a license or be in the process of acquiring your license in the state you plan on relocating to. This will show potential employers and recruiting professionals that you are serious about making a move and that you deserve as much consideration as someone who already works in the state.” According to the AMA, it usually takes about 60 days to obtain a license – with the process taking a bit longer for graduates of a medical school outside of the United States – so plan your timeline accordingly and anticipate any delays by starting the process early. Though it will vary by state to state, it’s also important to note that obtaining a license in New Jersey and Massachusetts typically takes longer. 3. Ensure the process moves efficiently: To ensure the licensing process moves as efficiently as possible, understand the guidelines of each state you are applying to and be upfront with all the information you need to submit. To help move the process along, the AMA recommends personally following up with your medical school, training programs, and any relevant hospitals to encourage them to verify your credentials in a timely manner. Nicole also advises her candidates to follow up with the state licensing board in order to ensure they have all the necessary information to move you forward in the process. Though these are general guidelines, they should help you understand the importance of state licensing and what you need to do in order to ensure your credentials do not hinder any future job opportunities. For more detailed information, please refer to the Federation of State Medical Boards and the AMA.