The State Board of Medicine (the “Board”) regulates the practice of medicine through the licensure, registration and certification of members of the medical profession in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Board regulates medical doctors; physician assistants; radiology technicians; respiratory therapists; nurse-midwives; acupuncturists; practitioners of oriental medicine; perfusionists; behavioral specialists; and athletic trainers. The Board also has authority to take disciplinary or corrective action against individuals it regulates. This article will address common questions that new physicians, current physicians, and other medical professions (and those advising them) may have regarding medical licenses in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The following professions require an individual to obtain a license through the State Board of Medicine:
- Medical Physician and Surgeon
- Physician Assistant
- Temporary Physician Assistant
- Nurse-Midwife Prescriptive Authority
- Respiratory Therapist
- Temporary Respiratory Therapist
- Athletic Trainer
- Temporary Athletic Trainer
- Physician Acupuncturist
- Genetic Counselor
- Provisional Genetic Counselor
To acquire a license in any of the aforementioned professions, an applicant must complete an application, either online or in paper form, and submit the application to the Board. If any questions arise regarding responses/ answers to questions in the application, it is best to contact a health care attorney to ensure all questions are responded to accurately and proficiently.
Certain employers will require a physician or other licensed professional to provide a certification of their license (Letter of Good Standing) and/or a copy of the medical license. To obtain a certification of licensure/ letter of good standing, a physician/ licensed professional must complete the Request for Verification/Certification of Licensure form, provided on the State Board’s website, and submit the form along with a $15.00 check/money order made payable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Similarly, to obtain a copy of a medical license, a physician/ licensed professional may request a duplicate copy of his/her license via mail by submitting a request, in writing, to the Board which includes the individual’s full name, license number and last four digits of the social security number along with a $5.00 check/money order made payable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. All requests should be sent to: State Board of Medicine, P.O. Box 2649, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649.
It is important to ensure that all information submitted in license applications, certifications of licensure, and/or duplicate copies of a medical license is accurate and completed properly. The most common issues/ discrepancies that arise and cause a delay in the Board processing an application or request are as follows:
- Fee: No fee submitted, incorrect fee amount, check not signed, check not made payable to “Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
- Application: Application is not signed, is missing pages or is incomplete.
- Primary Source Documents: Original documents not submitted directly from the primary source (transcript(s), diploma, verification of education form, letter(s) of good standing from other state(s) where the applicant has ever been licensed, post graduate training verification form(s), exam scores, ECFMG certification, etc.). The Board will not accept these documents unless they are sent directly from the primary source. Also, all foreign language documents must be translated by an approved translation agency/professor and then submitted. The Board will not translate foreign language documents.
- Missing Documents: If an applicant fails to answer or answers “yes” to one of the legal questions on the application, he/she is required to provide copies of the necessary documents as listed in the question(s). Also, if answering yes to being licensed in other states, the applicant does not indicate which states.
- Name Change: Official documents required to support name change are not submitted.
- Curriculum Vitae: CV is missing, is not in chronological order by month/year or contains gaps of time not accounted for. All time from graduation from school to present must be documented (including childrearing, research, unemployment, etc.).
- Discrepancies: Information provided by the applicant on the application, CV, etc., does not match the information provided by the primary source (graduate medical training dates do not match, training levels not listed, ACGME approved specialty not listed, etc.).
- National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) /Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank (HIPDB) Reports: Both original reports provided to the applicant during self-query must be submitted to the Board’s office. The original copies of “both” reports must be sent to the Board’s office. The Board will not accept copies
- Federation Credentials Verification Service (FCVS) Credentialing Reports: All documents must be verified as original source and not received from applicant. Also, additional documents are required by the Board which FCVS does not compile and submit for the applicant including:
- Curriculum Vitae
- Moral Character References
- Letter of Good Standing from all other states where licensed
- National Practitioner Data Bank Report
- Supporting legal/court documents regarding a Yes answer to questions 2-9, which relate to criminal history or prior litigation proceedings, on the Application
- The Board holds the right to request any additional documents needed to complete an accurate evaluation and review of the application
Once a license is obtained, it is important to ensure the license is renewed and the physician is continuing to complete his/her required continuing medical education requirements. All licenses are issued on a biennial basis and renew at the same time. These licenses expire on December 31st of every even numbered year. Renewal notices are sent to all “active and active-retired” status licenses at the address information on file with the Board approximately 90 days prior to the expiration date. The Board regulations state that in order to renew a medical license, a physician will need to satisfy the following continuing medical education requirements: 100 total credit hours of CME in the two-year license cycle, a minimum of 20 of the total credit hours in Category 1, 12 credit hours in the areas of patient safety or risk management (either Category 1 or Category 2), and 2 continuing education credits every two-year licensure cycle from a Department of Human Services’ (DHS) approved course on the topic of mandated child abuse recognition and reporting for a license renewal OR three continuing education credits from a DHS approved course on the topic of mandated child abuse recognition and reporting for an initial license (this is a separate and distinct mandate outside of the CME requirements and is a condition of licensure).
It is also important to ensure that a physician’s professional liability insurance is current. Any individual who holds an active physician and surgeon (MD) or certified nurse midwife (CNM) license and are actively practicing medicine in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is required to maintain professional liability insurance (exemptions to this requirement can be found at § 711(j) of the MCARE Act (Act 13 of 2002)).
To read more frequently asked questions, visit the Pennsylvania State Board of Medicine website at: http://www.dos.pa.gov/ProfessionalLicensing/BoardsCommissions/Medicine/Documents/Board%20Documents/MedM%20-%20FAQs.pdf
*Katherine E. LaDow, Esquire, an associate with Lamb McErlane PC., contributed to this article.
Vasilios (“Bill”) J. Kalogredis is Chairman of Lamb McErlane’s Health Law Department. Bill has been practicing health law for over 40 years, representing exclusively physicians, dentists, group practices, other health care professionals and health care-related entities.
*Katherine (“Katie”) E. LaDow, Esquire, an associate with Lamb McErlane PC., contributed to this article. Katie is an associate in the litigation department. She concentrates her practice in the areas of state civil litigation, family law and health law.