COVID-19 Waivers and Allowances for GMT Licensing

Last Updated: Apr 28, 2020

young-physiciansIn response to the COVID-19 emergency, the Pennsylvania Department of State (DOS) and the State Board of Medicine have announced a series of waivers and made a series of processing allowances regarding Graduate Medical Trainee (GMT) licensing.

The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) continues to monitor for additional developments regarding licensure waivers and allowances in response to COVID-19 and will provide updates accordingly when new information is known.

Exam and PGY Requirements

Due to the closure of testing centers during the COVID-19 disaster declaration, GMTs may not be able to take the standardized United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE). 

DOS and State Board of Medicine have requested, and the Governor has granted, a temporary waiver allowing a facility’s resident program director to determine which GMTs have gained the skills and fulfilled the requirements necessary to advance in their postgraduate year (PGY) training in the absence of the USMLE.

The following requirements are temporarily waived:

  • A GMT must pass Step 2 of the USMLE before entry into PGY2.
  • A GMT must pass Step 2 plus Step 3 of the USMLE before entry into PGY3.

These waivers will allow the GMT to advance in their training, as their skills allow, and take the USMLE when the exam is available. Submission of exam results will be required if a licensee later renews at a higher level and upon application for an unrestricted license. Click here for more information on these waivers.

USMLE Testing

Due to increasing uncertainty around having wider availability of in-person testing at certain locations, the USMLE is exploring alternate test delivery options. Additional information on this can be accessed here.

PAMED will continue to monitor for additional developments regarding USMLE testing and will provide updates when new details are known.

GMT Renewal Extension

The GMT license renewal deadline, under the State Board of Medicine, has been extended from June 30, 2020, to Sept. 28, 2020. Click here for more information.

Interim Limited MD Licenses 

Current GMT licensees are encouraged to consider applying for an interim limited license, which will allow the GMT to practice outside of their residency program.

To apply for an interim limited license, applicants must have completed one year of an ACGME PGY 1 level graduate training program and are entering or recently have entered into their ACGME PGY 2 level graduate training program. To review all the requirements for interim limited licenses, please click here.

Administrative Requirement Waivers

DOS has also temporarily suspended the requirement that applicants provide a detailed writtenstatement of the medical services to be provided beyond the parameters of the GMT program and receive a board evaluation regarding training and education. For additional information on this waiver, click here.

Initial MD Unrestricted Licensure

The State Board of Medicine and DOS have made the following allowances, which will permit GMTs in their final PGY year to obtain an unrestricted license sooner:

  • The Board will accept proof of completion of a GMT’s final PGY year now, instead of requiring the GMT to wait until 30 days before completion of their final year of PGY.
  • The Board will accept USMLE Step 3 scores directly from the applicant.
  • The unrestricted license will immediately issue (provided all other requirements have been met) and expire on December 31, 2020, with all other Board licenses.
  • Upon application, this license will be renewed as an unrestricted license.Prior to renewal of the license, the applicant will be required to provide proof of completion of their final year of PGY and the Board will require exam scores directly from USMLE.

Note that these allowances/suspensions do not excuse continuing medical education (CME) requirements for initial licensure applicants. All persons applying for issuance of an initial license or certificate from any of the health-related licensure boards are required to complete, as a condition of licensure, 3 hours of approved training by the Department of Human Services (DHS) on the topic of child abuse recognition and reporting.

Additionally, within a year of obtaining initial licensure, licensees must document completion of at least 4 hours of Board-approved education consisting of 2 hours in pain management or the identification of addiction and 2 hours in the practices of prescribing or dispensing of opioids. 

Where can I find additional information?

Due to the COVID-19 emergency, additional statutory and regulatory suspensions are expected to be forth coming, the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) will continue to provide updates as these suspensions are announced. When announced, licensing suspensions and waivers will be posted by DOS here.

PAMED has established a COVID-19 resource page where you will find additional information and resources on the COVID-19 outbreak.

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