By Angela Boateng
The bar exam is a rite of passage for many law school graduates. After at least three years of law school, approximately two months of preparation, and anywhere from 16 to 21 hours of test time, the capstone for a fortunate applicant is admission to the illustrious state bar.
Once completed, the mantra is usually “never again!” However, if the attorney decides to move and wants to practice law in another state, she will have to do it all … over … again. It’s enough to compel any practicing attorney to stay put, or at least consider very, very, very hard if the new (fill in the underlying factor here) is worth it.
A uniform bar exam has been created to streamline the bar examination process and allow applicants to sit for one exam for multiple states. So far, a handful of states are on board. If you or your loved one is interested in moving to any of these states, you’re in luck. If not, I feel for you.
But I digress (… sort of).
Physicians face a similar predicament
Currently, physicians must apply for a license to practice medicine in every state where they wish to practice. Although each application is not accompanied by an exam (for some physicians, MOC may take care of that), the licensure process is arduous – with a significant amount of cost, paperwork and time associated with each state’s application.
But alas, there may be some relief in sight! Earlier this year, the Federation of State Medical Boards drafted the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact. This compact would streamline the process for physicians to obtain licenses in multiple states.
The interstate compact creates a new license category for participating states – the expedited license. The proposed eligibility requirement for this newly proposed license is raised; in addition to holding an unrestricted license to practice in a member state, a physician seeking an expedited license will be required to hold specialty certification recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties or the American Osteopathic Association’s Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists.
However, receipt of an expedited license will not authorize practice in all participating states. Applicants must identify and pay the requisite application fees for each state where she wishes to practice medicine. In addition, physicians would be required to fulfill all continuing education requirements in participating states where renewal is desired.
An interstate commission would be established to serve as the regulatory body for the compact. The commission would oversee all of the administrative functions of the Compact and would interpret and enforce all of the rules of the interstate agreement. States that opt to participate would be responsible for enacting the compact under the state law.
The compact, however, would not override the state’s existing authority to regulate the practice of medicine within its respective state. State medical boards would maintain what is considered the hallmark of their existence – regulating the practice of medicine and protecting the health and safety of patients in the state.
The compact addresses one of the barriers to the practice of telemedicine. As previously noted in a PAMED update, many in the medical community agree that expanding telemedicine in Pennsylvania could ease concerns over escalating health care costs and access to care issues.
Twelve United States Senators have signaled support for the compact. Currently, Pennsylvania is not one of them; however, since the state has already indicated its support for telemedicine, maybe support for the interstate compact will follow suit. Stay tuned.