Licensing of Physicians
Last updated: 05/29/2020
All physicians need a full unrestricted medical license to practice clinical medicine within the US. Medical licensing is controlled by individual states, and the licensing board and statutes can vary from state to state. There is not currently automatic reciprocity between all states, so a physician must individually apply for each state in which they plan to offer medical care. The basic requirements include: medical doctorate from a US or internationally accredited medical school, completion of an ACGME-accredited medical residency, and proof of successful completion of all 3 steps of the USMLE. Additional exam scores, references, current and past licenses are also required. Medical licensing differs from board certification. Medical licensure ensures a physician meets minimum competency requirements to treat patients. Medical licenses, unlike board certification, are not specialty specific. Board certification can be obtained to show expertise in a particular field within medicine. It requires additional examinations and requirements beyond those of state licensure, and is a voluntary process.
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