Reactivating a License: What Physicians Should Know

harvan-andrewBy Andrew C. Harvan, Esq., PAMED’s legal and regulatory analyst

The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) often receives questions from member physicians concerning how to reactivate an inactive or active-retired medical license to an unrestricted license.

These questions usually come from retired physicians who are considering a return to active practice. However, physicians who are considering inactivating their license or changing the status of their license to active-retired also often ask what it will take to reactivate their license in order to return to practice. Before changing your licensure status, it is important that you know and understand the process to reactivate your license.

Reactivation Steps and Requirements

To reactivate an inactive, expired, or active-retired license, you must first submit a reactivation application. Review your reactivation application carefully because it succinctly describes the steps you must complete and documents you must submit to successfully reactivate your license.

Reactivation applications are not yet available on the Pennsylvania Licensing System (PALS), reactivations must be submitted through the mail. The reactivation application for doctors of allopathic medicine (MDs) can be found here. The reactivation application for doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) can be found here.

Before reactivating your license, you will need to fulfill your continuing medical education (CME) requirements, including the opioid and child abuse reporting/recognition education requirements, for the preceding biennial licensure cycle. Both MDs and DOs must complete 100 hours of CME credits every biennial cycle. The State Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine require applicants requesting reactivation to submit copies of their CME certificates along with their reactivation applications. For additional information on CME requirements, see PAMED’s FAQs on State CME Licensure Requirements for MDs and DOs.

physician-trioYou will also need to obtain professional liability insurance. The Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act (Mcare Act) requires physicians actively practicing medicine in Pennsylvania to maintain certain amounts of medical professional liability insurance and contribute to the Mcare fund.

Applicants requesting reactivation must also submit a current Curriculum Vitae (CV) and a self-query report from the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB).

Your CV should list all periods of employment and unemployment in chronological order. For reactivations, the State Board of Medicine requires CVs to cover at least the preceding 10 years. The State Board of Osteopathic Medicine requires CVs for reactivations to cover at least the period from the expiration date of your previous medical license to present.

You can place a NPDB self-query request here. When you receive the “Response to your Self-Query,” you should make a copy for your own records and forward a copy to your licensure board. Note there is a four dollar ($4) per order fee for self-queries.

Reactivation Fees

If you are reactivating an expired or inactive license, you must pay your licensure board’s renewal fee. For MDs the fee is $360 and for DOs the fee is $220. If you are reactivating an active-retired license, you will need to pay a $5 fee, but not the renewal fee.

Also, note if you have practiced medicine in Pennsylvania for any amount of time after your license expired, you will need to pay a $5 fee per month, or part of a month, for the number of months you practiced medicine with an expired license.

Clinical Skills Evaluation and Retraining Programs for MDs

Under regulations enacted by the State Board of Medicine, see 49 Pa. Code §16.15, a medical license which has been inactive, expired, or actively-retired for four years or longer will be reviewed by the full board.

Applicants who have not actively practiced medicine for four or more years and are requesting reactivation of their license may be required to successfully complete a clinical skills evaluation and/or a retraining program. If you are required to complete such a program, the reactivation of your license would be delayed until you have successfully completed an approved program.

In addition to requiring the completion of a retraining program, the Board also has the authority to place conditions on your return to practice.

If you are required to complete a clinical skills assessment or retraining program, the Board will provide you with a list of organizations that offer such programs. The Foundation of the Pennsylvania Medical Society offers clinical skills assessments and retraining through LifeGuard. For additional information on LifeGuard’s re-entry programs, click here.

Where Can I Find More Information?

Question-Mark-stethescope-articlePAMED also has numerous resources to assist physicians with licensure questions.

  • PAMED’s resources on licensure requirements can be accessed here.
  • Click here to access PAMED’s wealth of CME resources.
  • Answers to PAMED members’ FAQs on PALS renewal can be accessed here.
  • Information on active-retired licenses can be found here.

The State Board of Medicine can be contacted at (717) 783-1400 or emailed at st-medicine@pa.gov. The State Board of Osteopathic Medicine can be contacted at (717) 783-4858 or emailed at st-osteopathic@pa.gov. When calling, listen closely to the prompts and choose the option to speak with a board representative.

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


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