How long does it take to get a medical license?

Physicians and advanced practitioners are currently required to obtain a new license for every state they wish to practice, including telemedicine appointments. The exception to this rule is federal employees who work in the VA system or Indian Health Service; these providers can work in any VA in the country without obtaining separate licensure in that state.

Licensure applications can be complicated and different from state to state. However, most of the key information required remains the same. The licensing agencies will evaluate your primary education and post-graduate training, as well as United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) scores, hospital privileges, current, and past licenses, and references. A convenient way to store credentials is by using the Federation Credentials Verification Service (FCVS), a repository of your credentials that can be easily accessed for multiple state board applications. Essentially, FCVS portfolios can be sent to any organization affiliated with FCVS, including most licensing bodies. There is a fee to use FCVS, but it can be a valuable service to invest in if you frequently take assignments in different states.

On average, it takes at least 60 days to obtain licensure from the date of application submission. This period will be longer if you are a provider from outside the United States. Additionally, most applications come through from April to September, so submission during this time can also lead to delays. The reason for the long period of processing is that state medical boards must investigate your credentials and past practices to ensure that appropriately qualified providers are licensed.

As an applying provider, you should be patient and remain courteous during the licensure process. It may be helpful to provide the licensing board with a curriculum vitae upfront so they can anticipate any potential problems. Perhaps the most important advice to keep in mind is always to provide full disclosure on your background. It would be much more of a hassle not to disclose a small matter and discredit yourself for the future than to acknowledge any ambiguous incidents upfront.


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