Last updated 3/8/22
Physicians can now get expedited licensure to practice medicine in most U.S. states. The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC) allows medical doctors to move quickly through the licensure process in 31 states and the territory of Guam.
This is a boon for physicians interested in working locum tenens. Interested in working in Guam so you can enjoy the tropical climes and experience a new culture? Great! You can get started much more quickly. Want to escape the winter blues for some weekend shifts in sunny Texas? Awesome. Let’s get you lined up.
Getting licensed in additional states is simpler with the ever-expanding number of IMLC-member states. And the IMLC process reduces the time to get a new license from months to just weeks in many cases.
How it works
As the IMLC explains, eligible doctors complete a single application and then receive separate licenses from each state in which they intend to practice.
As usual, the license is issued by each individual state, but because the application goes through the IMLC the overall process is streamlined. That means that you can get licensed to practice in more states faster and with less work.
So how do you qualify and apply? And how long does it take? Keep reading.
Rather see this all through a video? Watch here:
How you qualify
First, you need to declare your “State of Principal License” (SPL), where you hold a full and unrestricted medical license. To designate your SPL, you must complete an application and then receive a formal Letter of Qualification from that state. Then, the SPL shares this information with the additional states where you want to practice.
The Interstate Medical Licensure Commission explains the qualifications that are required to apply for a license. At least one of the following must apply:
- Your primary residence is in the SPL
- At least 25% of your practice of medicine occurs in the SPL
- You’re employed to practice medicine by a person, business, or organization located in the SPL, or
- You use the SPL as your state of residence for U.S. Federal Income Tax purposes
And, of course, you must be in good standing without a criminal history, have no disciplinary actions against your medical license, or be under investigation.
- Have graduated from an accredited medical school, or a school listed in the International Medical Education Directory
- Have successfully completed ACGME- or AOA-accredited graduate medical education
- Passed each component of the USMLE, COMLEX-USA, or equivalent in no more than three attempts for each component
- Hold a current specialty certification or time-unlimited certification by an ABMS or AOABOS board
Following these standards, about 80% of U.S. physicians already meet the criteria for licensure through the Compact.
States and territories that offer the expedited licensure
Many states have elected to join the IMLC voluntarily to help address the physician shortage. To participate, a state’s legislature introduces and enacts a bill authorizing the state to join. Current IMLC member states and territories include:
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
*Oklahoma and Vermont are not current “States of Principle Licensure”, which means you are able to get a license issued for these states through the compact if you qualify through another SPL but neither state qualifies as a SPL for licensing in other states.
States working on getting the expedited licensure up and running
The following have joined the compact but are awaiting full implementation:
- New Jersey
- Washington, D.C.
States with pending legislation to join the compact include:
- New York
- North Carolina
So, for physicians interested in working locum tenens, the IMLC significantly simplifies and speeds up the licensing process to take locums assignments in more parts of the nation.
Kari Redfield is a professional content marketing writer. She also is a novelist and writes for newsstand magazines and has had work appear in publications such as Arizona Highways, Sedona Magazine, and American Fitness. And like the locums physicians profiled in these stories, she loves the flexibility and new experiences that her unique job provides, and loves to travel. She has been known to spend weeks in the U.S. West in her Aliner, checking out classic trad rock climbs, epic mountain bike rides, and other adventures while writing from the road.