Do You Know Your License Renewal Requirements?

Last Updated: Sep 9, 2020


By Andrew Harvan

For physicians across Pennsylvania, it will soon be time to renew their medical licenses. Both allopathic physicians (MDs) and osteopathic physicians (DOs) renew their licenses on a biennial cycle, every even-numbered year.

For DOs, the renewal deadline is Oct. 31. For MDs, the renewal deadline is Dec. 31.

In 2020, the renewal fee for DOs is $330.

The renewal fee for MDs is typically $360. At its September 2020 meeting, the State Board of Medicine voted to waive renewal fees for this renewal period. Additional information on this waiver will be included with MD renewal notices. Note the fee waiver applies only to MDs, not to DOs.

Active retired licensees renew on the same biennial schedule, with the same deadlines and fees. The State Board of Osteopathic Medicine recently proposed increasing its licensing fees. PAMED will update members of any finalized increases.

Note that your license is not considered renewed until processed by your licensure board and officially renewed by the board. Therefore, it is crucial that you do not wait until the last minute to complete your renewal requirements and submit renewal materials.

Here are some frequently asked questions that PAMED often gets asked:

What are my CME requirements?

requirements_checklistBoth MDs and DOs must complete 100 hours of CME credits every biennial licensure cycle. Of these 100 hours, at least 12 must be in patient safety and risk management. For MDs, at least 20 credits must be AMA PRA Category 1™. For DOs, at least 20 credits must be AOA category 1-A.

Per Act 31 of 2014, all physician licensees are required to complete two hours, from a Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS)-approved provider, on the topic of child abuse recognition and reporting as a condition of biennial renewal. There are no exceptions to this requirement. Note that these hours do not count toward fulfilment of the 100 CME credit requirement unless the course is specifically approved for CME credits. PAMED has an online state-approved CME course for our members at www.pamedsoc.org/CME.

Additionally, physicians seeking re-licensure, subject to certain exceptions, must also complete two hours of CME in pain management, identification of addiction, or the practices of prescribing or dispensing opioids. Physicians who do not have a DEA registration number and do not use the DEA registration of another individual or entity to prescribe controlled substances are exempt from completing this requirement. PAMED recently updated our opioids CME series, which you can access at www.pamedsoc.org/CME.

The required opioid education and child abuse recognition and reporting training do not count toward the 12-hour patient safety/risk management requirement.

Active retired licensees are exempt from all CME requirements, except for the mandated two hours of child abuse recognition and reporting and two hours of opioid education. An active-retired licensee would be exempt from the required opioid education if they do not have a DEA registration number and do not use another individual or entity’s DEA registration to prescribe.

Physicians applying for licensure in Pennsylvania for the first time are exempt from CME requirements for the biennial period immediately following initial licensure, except for the child abuse recognition and reporting and opioid education requirements. Initial applicants must submit, no later than 12 months after obtaining an initial license or certification, documentation acceptable to the licensing board of the completion of at least two hours of education in pain management or identification of addiction and at least two hours of education in the practices of prescribing of opioids. Initial applicants must take three continuing education credits from a DHS-approved course on the topic of mandated child abuse recognition and reporting vs. the two required for physicians renewing their license.

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How do I renew?

This year will be the second renewal period during which renewals are submitted exclusively online through the Pennsylvania Licensing System (PALS). PALS is a completely online process. Paper renewal applications are no longer accepted.

Renewal notices will be sent electronically through email to licensees in advance of renewal deadlines. To ensure that you receive all licensure notifications, please verify that your contact information is current in your PALS account. If you need assistance in accessing your existing PALS account or need to register for a PALS account, please visit www.pals.pa.gov.

To renew on PALS, licensees must answer a series of yes or no questions. It is important that licensees review their answers before submitting their application. Once submitted, a licensee cannot return to their application to correct any information. If an error was made, licensees must upload a supporting document explaining and correcting the error.

What if I do not renew in time?

Licenses not timely renewed will become expired. To bring a license out of expired status, a reactivation application must be submitted.

Reactivation applications are not available on PALS and must be submitted through the mail via a paper application. Reactivation applications can be downloaded from the State Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine’s websites.

To reactivate a license, among other requirements, the applicant must:

  • Fulfill all CME requirements for the preceding biennial period
  • Submit copies of their completed CME certificates
  • Submit a current curriculum vitae
  • Provide an official self-query from the National Practitioner Data Bank

Review the reactivation application carefully as it succinctly describes all the steps you must complete and documents you must submit to reactivate your license successfully.

Where can I find additional information?

PAMED has numerous educational materials to assist physicians with their licensure questions. PAMED also has a wealth of CME resources available to member physicians, including courses that meet the opioid education and child abuse reporting and recognition training requirements. You can access all of these resources at www.pamedsoc.org/CME.

Andrew Harvan is PAMED’s legal and regulatory analyst. Email him at aharvan@pamedsoc.org.

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