Physician License Renewal in Pennsylvania: What You Need to Know

By: Andrew Harvan, JD, PAMED’s Legal & Regulatory Analyst


Every even numbered year, medical doctors (MDs) and doctors of osteopathy (DOs) across Pennsylvania partake in the biennial practice of renewing their licenses.

HarvanAndrewSince 2018 is an even numbered year, it is a year for license renewal. There is little worse than waiting until the last minute to renew your license, only to realize that you fell short of fulfilling CME requirements or were unaware of other renewal obligations.

The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) has numerous resources that can help you get a head start on fulfilling your renewal requirements and ensure your renewal goes as smoothly as possible. In this blog, I will highlight some of these resources and review the basics of license renewal so that you may have peace of mind entering this renewal year.

Biennial Renewal Requirements

Regulations regarding biennial renewal, promulgated by the State Board of Medicine, can be found at 49 Pa. Code §16.15. Similar regulations enacted by the State Board of Osteopathic Medicine can be found at 49 Pa. Code § 25.271.

MDs must renew their licenses by Dec. 31, while DOs must renew by Oct. 31 of every even numbered year. The renewal fee for MDs is $360 and $220 for DOs.

If a licensee does not renew in time and does not pay their biennial fee, their license will be placed in “unregistered” status. If you practice medicine with an unregistered license, you will be assessed a fine for each month or part of a month that you practiced with such a license. Additionally, you will also be subject to professional discipline and possible criminal prosecution. To bring your license out of unregistered status, you will have to fulfill certain enumerated requirements.

If a licensee desires to inactivate their license, the licensee should notify their Board in writing that they wish their license to become inactive. The licensee’s license will then be placed in “inactive” status.

About 60-90 days before your renewal deadline, your licensure board will send a license renewal notice to your last mailing address. Renewal forms are not forwarded. Licensees should notify their board of any change in address. To renew, you will need your ID renewal number. This number will be listed on your renewal form.

CME Requirements

Both MDs and DOs must meet certain continuing education requirements during each renewal period. MDs and DOs are both required to complete 100 CME hours during each two-year license period. At least 12 of these hours must be in patient safety and risk management.

Each licensure cycle, physicians must take 2 approved hours of continuing education in mandated child abuse recognition and reporting approved for a physician audience. PAMED members can access our state-approved child abuse and recognition course that also offers CME here.

Subject to certain exceptions, physicians seeking re-licensure must also complete at least 2 hours of continuing education in pain management, identification of addiction, or the practices of prescribing opioids. Additional information on complying with Pennsylvania’s opioid CME requirements can be found here, and PAMED’s opioids CME courses are available here.

For MDs, 20 of their 100 CME hours must be AMA PRA Category 1™. DOs must complete at least 20 hours of American Osteopathic Association (AOA) category 1-A CME credits.

For additional information on CME requirements, see PAMED’s FAQs on State CME Licensure Requirements for MDs and DOs.

New Online Licensure System

Online renewal will look a little different this year. The Pennsylvania Department of State's (DOS) Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA) is transitioning to a new online licensing system. This new system, called the Pennsylvania Licensing System (PALS), will replace MyLicense—the state's previous online licensing system.

The State Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine has already implemented PALS. This year, online license renewals for MDs and DOs will be through PALS.

BPOA hopes that PALS will make the online application and renewal process more user-friendly. Get PAMED’s complete description of PALS here.

Where Can I Find More Information?

These license renewal and CME resources are available to PAMED members:

PAMED members with questions can contact our KnowledgeCenter at 855-PAMED4U (855-726-3348) or KnowledgeCenter@pamedsoc.org.


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