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Perspectives on the locum tenens industry

Crossing State Lines: New Interstate Medical Licensure Compact

Applying for multiple state licenses one at a time can be time-consuming and tedious. The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact aims to fix this. Learn what the Compact is and what it means for you as a locum tenens physician, below.

What is the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact and how does it work?

As you know, the United States is facing a major physician shortage. Paired with the influx of new patients added to the healthcare system as a result of the Affordable Care Act, many patients are not able to receive the regular preventative care they need. This leads to more serious problems down the road, like expensive emergency room visits, or in some cases even death.

Created by the Federation of State Medical Boards to bring doctors and patients together, the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact offers a fast and easy way for eligible physicians to become licensed in multiple states. Becoming a part of the Compact is completely voluntary and on a state by state basis. Once Compact legislature is enacted in a specific state, physicians can quickly receive a license in fellow Compact states.

As of the beginning of this year, the Compact has been implemented in eighteen U.S. states, with others expected to adopt soon. These states include Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. You can check the status of your state on this interactive map.

How to apply

Once you’re ready to apply, you will need to designate a Compact state as your “State of Principal Licensure.” This is a state in which you already possess a full and unrestricted license to practice medicine, and is either your primary state of residence, your state of residence for federal income tax purposes, where you practice at least 25% of the time, or the location of your employer. Then, you can select the other Compact states in which you would like to obtain a medical license.

Once you apply and your eligibility is verified, the Interstate Commission will send your information and licensing fees to the additional states. Fees vary state to state, but it is likely that state medical boards may choose to charge a reduced fee for licenses obtained through the Compact. Once everything is received, a license will be granted.

What does this mean for you?

Easier, faster licensing means greater locum tenens possibilities for you. More assignments, more patients to serve, fewer barriers keeping you from where you’d like to go. The Compact’s streamlined process will drastically cut wait times for state licenses, opening up to the possibility to work in even more locum tenens locations.

To be eligible for expedited licensure, you must:

  • Possess a full and unrestricted license to practice medicine in a Compact state
  • Possess specialty certification or be in possession of a time unlimited specialty certificate
  • Have no discipline on any state medical license
  • Have no discipline related to controlled substances
  • Not be under investigation by any licensing or law enforcement agency
  • Have passed the USMLE or COMLEX (or equivalent) within 3 attempts
  • Have successfully completed a graduate medical education (GME) program

While licenses via the Compact process have not yet been issued, a commission of representatives from participating states have begun formally meeting and implementing the administrative processes needed to begin the licensure process. Once available, this restructured way of obtaining multiple state licenses will allow you to provide care when and where it’s needed most without letting state lines interfere.

To learn more about the Interstate Compact, please call (202) 463-4000 or visit

Other resources you may find helpful:

VIDEO: How the Compact Works

Interstate Medical Licensure Compact FAQs

Interstate Compact Myths vs, Facts

American Medical Association Issue Brief: Interstate Medical Licensure Compact