Last Updated: Apr 20, 2021
By 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.
Also, note that physician licensees who do not renew their licenses timely by the deadline of their biennial renewal period will need to submit a reactivation application in order to return their licensure status to active unrestricted.
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.
Reactivations are submitted through the Pennsylvania Licensing System (PALS). Licensees will need to log into their PALS account and click on the ‘pencil’ next to their license number to submit a status change.
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.
You 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.
After you have submitted your reactivation application, the Pennsylvania Department of State’s (DOS) Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA) may contact you to seek additional information or resolve any discrepancies with your application. It is important that you keep your contact information up to date with BPOA. You can verify and update your contact information through your PALS account. Note that discrepancy notices will be sent via email.
If you are reactivating an expired or inactive license, you must pay your licensure board’s renewal fee. In 2020, the fee is $360 for MDs, and for DOs the fee is $330. If you are reactivating from 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?
PAMED 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. The State Board of Osteopathic Medicine can be contacted at (717) 783-4858 or emailed at email@example.com. When calling, listen closely to the prompts and choose the option to speak with a board representative. For assistance with your PALS account, please visit the PALS Support Page.
PAMED members with questions can also contact PAMED’s KnowledgeCenter at 800-228-7823 or KnowledgeCenter@pamedsoc.org.