State medical boards strive towards efficient interstate licensing


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Becoming a physician is a daunting process, and after a student completes her undergraduate, medical school, and graduate medical education, she must still obtain a license to practice medicine in the state where she plans to practice. Earlier this year, the Federation of State Medical Boards set forth a new policy to begin exploration of an “interstate compact,” which would increase the ease and efficiency of licensing physicians in multiple states. The Federation of State Medical Boards and the American Medical Association assert that physician licensure is properly delegated to states because they are better able to regulate physicians and ensure patient protection than the federal government. However, with a continuing increase in the practice of medicine between states, the process of licensure by individual states would benefit from streamlining.

Although some physicians may have cause for concern at the prospect of increased competition as a result of such an interstate compact, unlike lawyers, there is a growing demand for physicians, particularly in rural areas. For example, an interstate compact could allow for an increase in mobile health clinics that provide healthcare services to rural and underserved communities with limited access to doctors.

State medical boards might be concerned about the shared regulation of a doctor’s practice by multiple state boards. Allowing physicians to move easily between states would potentially allow sub-par physicians to escape ready notice of multiple regulatory boards. A properly implemented interstate compact, however, would hopefully circumvent such regulatory difficulties, and ensure quality standard of care while allowing for physicians to easily treat all patients, regardless of location.