A Guide to Medical Licensing for Residents

Doctor on laptop with documents in other hand.

Graduating from medical school is a proud moment in the life of any physician. However, obtaining a medical license is an equally important part of earning the privilege to practice medicine and should also be celebrated. The process of obtaining a resident medical license typically begins in the U.S. when medical students take the first two steps of the licensing examination prior to graduation. The final step of the examination is usually taken during residency training. The next steps in earning a resident medical license are crucial and can vary by state. 

Initial Medical Licensure for Residents   

According to the American Medical Association, residents are licensed to practice through a training certificate at the outset of residency. This is a form of license issued to physicians who are in accredited residency programs that permits them to practice under supervision until fully licensed. Moving forward with seeking full licensure as a resident is permissible and poses some perks. For example, fully licensed residents can moonlight during residency. Keep in mind that some graduate medical education institutions may require residents to be fully licensed at a certain point in their training. 

Know State-Specific Licensure Requirements 

Medical licensure requirements and processes vary by state, so make sure you understand what the exact requirements are for the state in which you are applying for licensure. Most state medical boards require, at a minimum:

  • Proof of graduation from an accredited medical school
  • Proof of completion of at least one year of residency
  • Proof of completion of an approved license exam
  • Medical licensing fee payment 
  • Passing a criminal background check.

Keep in mind, however, that the medical licensure process in the U.S. is not nationally standardized—so expect variations in requirements and processes for each state.

Prepare Documentation and Track Training Progress 

Your curriculum vitae should be complete and accurate before applying for medical licensure. You will also need direct primary-source verification of education, graduate training, exam scores, references, current and past licenses, additional queries, profiles and reviews. As you progress through residency, track and keep a record of these materials. Our clients enjoy the benefit of these documents being securely stored in our database rather than having to keep track of them on their own. 

Always Be Honest and Forthcoming with Medical Boards

After having helped thousands of physicians navigate the medical licensure process in all 50 states, we have learned firsthand the importance of honesty when it comes to medical license applications. Rather than attempting to hide negative information from a medical board, it is always better to be forthcoming in explaining the circumstances. In most cases, medical boards are understanding. Many of our clients have blemished records, and we have been able to support them in successfully achieving medical licensure.  

Follow Up to Expedite the Process

We stay in close communication with state medical boards on behalf of our clients to ensure their medical license applications progress as smoothly as possible. It is quite common for reviewers to ask questions or request clarification on certain items. Fielding these requests as quickly as possible is key in expediting the medical licensure process. Considering how laborious and time consuming it can be for a resident to compile their first medical licensure application, it makes sense to engage a professional licensing service to assure a higher probability of approval. Our services include facilitating direct-source verification of credentials, tracking all components of the application to ensure accurate and timely processing and maintaining contact with the board reviewer until your license is granted. As a resident, this allows you to focus on what is most important—your residency. 

If you are a resident interested in learning more about the medical licensing process, call us today at 844.299.1936 to speak with a dedicated licensing specialist.