In March 2018, the Pennsylvania Department of State’s (DOS) Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA) initiated a new online-only process to submit applications for initial and renewal graduate medical training (GMT) licenses utilizing a new online licensing system, called the Pennsylvania Licensing System (PALS).
Following implementation of this new system, numerous GMT programs contacted the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) to share the problems they had encountered during their attempts to submit applications.
Administrators expressed challenges in submitting spreadsheets containing data required for the GMT license applications. For many of the GMT programs, these spreadsheets contain detailed information for hundreds of residents and fellows who need initial or renewed graduate medical training licenses to practice. Administrators shared that a single error could cause the entire spreadsheet to be rejected with no indication given to the user regarding what the error might be.
Additionally, applicants have reported difficulty in completing the application due to numerous problems with the security questions required to log into the licensing system.
On April 24, 2018, PAMED President Theodore Christopher, MD, FACEP, sent a letter to BPOA voicing the concerns that PAMED has heard from GMT programs. He stressed the importance of addressing these concerns and successfully processing the applications before July 1 to ensure adequate levels of staffing for Pennsylvania’s training hospitals and protecting patient care coverage across the Commonwealth. He also offered PAMED’s assistance in helping BPOA with this transition.
On May 10, PAMED received a response from BPOA, which included clarifications and additional information.
BPOA Response and Contact Information
BPOA indicated that technical resources to support requests made from training hospitals have been assigned, and modifications to the software have been developed accordingly. For example, pop-up error messages alerting users why a file could not be processed have been developed and implemented.
BPOA also acknowledged and identified the issues with PALS security questions. The agency explained that the system is configured using standard security questions within BPOA. After incidents were reported, DOS adjusted security questions to allows user to log in. BPOA reported that the State Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine will process applications based on training start dates. BPOA is allocating additional staff to assist with operations to reduce processing times.
BPOA instructs users experiencing continued issues with log in to email email@example.com. The BPOA support team will analyze the problem and create a solution.
Additionally, any training hospital with GMT applicants who require priority processing due to visa issuance should email the Commissioner of BPOA’s Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PAMED Next Steps
PAMED thanks BPOA for their response and cooperation. PAMED will be coordinating with DOS to provide educational and informative sessions on PALS. PAMED will also continue to monitor the processing of GMT licenses.
For PAMED’s FAQs on licensure requirements, see the links below:
And, access this PAMED article on PALS to get additional information on the state’s new online licensure system.