What Doctors Should Know about the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC)
What the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Means for Physicians, Patients & the American Healthcare System
Recently, the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC), an agreement to expedite the process of state medical licensure among member states, was approved and implemented by a number of states in an effort to help standardize safety and security and extend care to underserved areas.
The IMLC works by letting physicians who are licensed in one member state receive a fast-tracked approval process in other member states. Doctors in these states will be able to more easily accept a job in other states in the IMLC, and will also be able to more readily treat patients across state lines, too — a particular benefit for physicians who live near state borders, or who participate in telehealth programs (where their patients may be several states away).
Initiated by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), the national, non-profit organization that represents the various medical and osteopathic boards across the United States (and its territories), the IMLC so far counts 19 states among its members, with more expected to join in the months and years to come.
Are You Eligible for Expedited Licensure Under the IMLC?
The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact allows doctors to receive expedited licensure in its 19 member states, so long as they possess a “full and unrestricted” license in one of the eligible home states (listed below).
In addition, that home state must one of the following:
- The physician’s state of primary residence,
- The state where at least 25% of his or her practice occurs, or
- The location of his or her employer.
To be eligible for expedited licensure under the IMLC, a doctor must also be in good standing (i.e., with no criminal record and no disciplinary or controlled substance actions on record).
For a more detailed rundown of IMLC eligibility — and a debunking of some prevalent myths about the compact and how it defines licensure — we encourage you to review the IMLC’s licensure FAQs.
Which States Are Included in the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact?
- 8 states are full members of the IMLC, meaning that they can act as the primary state and source of verification for licensure in all member states. This list includes Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
- 11 more states have joined the IMLC provisionally but cannot yet act as primary states of verification and licensure. These include Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Nevada, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Utah.
- 7 more states (and one district) are in the process of joining (which typically involves passing legislation). These states include Georgia, Michigan, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Washington State, and Washington, D.C.
Visit the IMLC’s home page for a convenient, interactive map of the IMLC member states.
How Does the IMLC Benefit Physicians, Patients, and Healthcare in General?
As noted above, the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact expedites the process of medical licensure among its member states, which has obvious benefits for doctors who wish to relocate, who want to work temporary or locum assignments in other locations, and “who practice in metropolitan areas that include more than one state,” writes Ken Terry for Medscape.
The goal of expediting licensure, however, doesn’t just make life easier for physicians. Indeed, the goal of the IMLC is primarily to standardize the safety and security of licensure (and, by extension, patient care) across all states.
The IMLC is also designed to help fight America’s shortage of doctors by enabling them to more readily practice in the areas that need them. Specifically, rural and underserved areas will benefit from giving doctors the power to more conveniently treat patients who live in more remote parts of the country.
The growth in the use of telemedicine in recent years means that patients in remote and underserved areas can access doctors more easily via technological means like video conferencing or smartphone apps, overcoming the problem of distance and transportation.
But even though telemedicine is more widely used each year in the U.S., it’s also often obstructed from operating across state lines. “Most states require physicians to be licensed to practice in the originating site's state, and some states require providers using telehealth technology across state lines to have a valid state license in the state where the patient is located,” explains the website of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
As FSMB President and CEO Humayan Chaudhry, DO, said in a statement, the launch of the IMLC helps fight this obstacle, by working to “empower interested and eligible physicians to deliver high-quality care across state lines to reach more patients in rural and underserved communities."
Finally, it should be noted that there are fees involved in utilizing the IMLC. “For physicians, the compact will assess an application cost of $700, of which a portion will go to the physician’s state of principal licensure to cover the cost of verifying the physician’s credentials,” explains the American Medical Association.
“Physicians also must pay a license cost, at the same or lower cost as the traditional process, to each state from which the physician wishes to get a license. The license cost is set by each participating state’s licensing board.”
Interested in learning how the IMLC might affect you and your next medical license? Contact us today to learn more.
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