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For Physicians - Navigating Licensing, Boards, and Other Requirements

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As you complete your training and the interviewing process, you’ll need to start filling out some paperwork! If you do not already have a license to practice medicine in the state where you’ll be working, you’ll need to submit your application for one. You’ll also need to apply for your DEA Registration number as well as a NPI (National Practitioner Identifier). Board Certification will be another hurdle you’ll need to jump! Understanding what is required and how much time it takes is essential to being ready to begin practicing in a timely manner.

State Licensing

The first application you’ll want to submit is for your state license. State Licensing Boards require Physicians to submit detailed applications and provide direct verification of their education, training, exams, licenses, work history and several additional queries, profiles and reviews in order to obtain a Physician license. Each State has slightly different requirements for their licensing process. You can typically find applications and instructions on-line. Some states have additional requirements such as Child Abuse Recognition and Infection Control courses that must be taken in order to obtain your license.

Time to process your state license will vary from state to state and by time of year (spring is a very busy time). In NYS it takes approximately 2-3 months to receive your license if the application was properly submitted. Be sure to allow enough time to time to obtain your license first followed by your DEA registration and other paperwork well before your “start date” for employment. START EARLY!

Obtaining a National Practitioner Identifier (NPI) Number

The National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES) collects identifying information on health care providers and assigns each a unique National Provider Identifier (NPI). The NPI is a 10-position, intelligence-free numeric identifier (10-digit number). NPI numbers replace other identifiers including PIN and UPIN numbers.

It should take approximately 10 days to receive an NPI if the paperwork was properly submitted. For questions you can call 1-800-465-3203. You can also apply for your NPI Number online.

Obtaining a DEA Registration Number

In order to be issued a DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) Number, which allows Physicians to prescribe controlled substances, they must first complete all requirements imposed by the state and also obtain a license in that state. To apply for a DEA number, fill out DEA Form 224 – New Application for Retail Pharmacy, Hospital/Clinic, Practitioner, Teaching Institution, or Mid-Level Practitioner. Applications from new Physicians are typically processed within 4 to 6 weeks and can be found online.

Federal Credential Verification Service (FCVS)

While it is not required, new Physicians may also want to fill out an FCVS (Federal Credential Verification Service) application at the beginning of their last year of Residency. According to the Federation State of Medical Boards website, “applicants who complete this verification process establish a permanent, lifetime portfolio of primary-source verified credentials — allowing quick, easy and inexpensive access to medical credentials.” The FCVS process is especially helpful for Physicians who graduated from medical schools outside the U.S. or Canada or require visa sponsorship as verifications from outside the U.S. can take longer to complete. View more details on the FCVS process.

Board Certification

Most hospitals require physicians to become board certified in their specialty within five years of training. The Board Certification process is conducted by an ABMS Member Board (for allopathic residency training including MDs and DOs) or the AOA’s Bureau of Osteopathic Specialties (for osteopathic residency training) . It involves a rigorous process of testing and peer evaluation that is designed and administered by specialists in the specific area of medicine. The Member Boards are responsible for setting the standards for quality practice in a particular medical specialty. In order to be eligible for review by the Board a physician must have completed an appropriate residency requirement and have a valid license to practice medicine. If a physician meets these basic admission standards, the Member Board will evaluate the candidate using written and oral examinations. Because specialties differ so widely, the criteria that inform these tests are quite different.

Once Physicians have been certified, they must go through a periodic recertification (approximately every six to ten years) to ensure that they are up-to-date and participate in continuing education after their initial certification.

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