Medical License (2017 Update)

Posting a follow-up to my Medical License post.

Looks like there’s been a few changes to the state medical license application process since 2010.  It seems that most medical boards have transitioned to electronic applications, which is great.  If you can apply online, there is absolutely NO reason to use paper applications.  This will also apply to pretty much every other type of application moving forward.

Before I go over the California medical licensing process, I’ll briefly touch upon the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB).  In 20 states, you can now apply for your medical license using a Uniform (common) Application.  You can find the list of participating states here.  You can also request your official USMLE transcript through the FSMB as well. Some states will also require you to use the Federation Credentials Verifying Service (FCVS), which verifies your medical education, postgraduate training, examination history, board action history, board certification, and identity.  With FCVS, you can avoid needing to submit the same documentation over and over again if you are applying for multiple state licenses.  Although I haven’t gone through this process myself, just from reading the instructions, it seems pretty straight forward.

Speaking of clear as mud, let’s move onto the California medical license application. You’re eligible to apply after you complete your intern year and pass Step 3.  You now have the option to apply online.  Although I’m a huge proponent of online applications over paper, I’m not too sure about the California medical license application.  You would apply online through the Breeze website, which is how I also renew my license every 2 years.   Having looked through the application on Breeze,  it looks like nothing but a glorified paper application.  You pretty much fill in all your personal, educational, and professional information, and just pay the application and license fee online.  The only thing you can attach is your CV and Timeline of Activities form, for which the paper application explains exactly what that is.  Other than that, you have to do the following on paper:


Yeah.  It’s a lot.  Obviously, I haven’t gone beyond the payment section, so I’m not really sure if better follow-up instructions are outlined after checkout.  If anyone has gone through the online application process, please share with us your experience. Compared to the list above, the paper application actually does a much better job in explaining  the next steps of the application.  Even if you apply online, I strongly encourage you to read the entire paper application, especially the License Application Checklist.

As for the application fee, it’s still $491, and the license fee is still $808 for practicing physicians and $416.50 for those in training.  You still have the option to donate $25 to the family physician training fund, which I would probably still throw in today.

One of the main reasons that the California licensing process is so cumbersome is because your medical school and USMLE transcripts, medical school diploma, proof of medical school matriculation, and proof of residency enrollment and completion ALL must come directly from the programs and agencies.  Each program has to complete the L2-L4 forms you give them, and affix them with their school seals.  You also have to track down your internship and residency program directors for their signatures.  Believe me, getting everything ready for submission was a big pain.  Thankfully, I still lived only 5 minutes away from my residency and medical school at the time.

Unfortunately, things sound like they have gotten worse.  When I applied, I was able to pick up the completed L2-L4 forms and mail them all together myself.  However, it looks like the board changed the rules, and these forms now need to be mailed directly from each respective program or school.  It also looks like they no longer accept your original medical school diploma, and your medical school needs to directly send a certified photocopy instead.  You can also have FCVS submit your professional information profile, but you still have to complete all the required L2-L4 forms.  Honestly, that just sounds like introducing another middle man to drop the ball or cause delays.  I probably wouldn’t use FCVS if I were applying today.

As for Live Scan, nothing changes.  EVERY applicant should use it.  Since it’s a requirement for California residents, it’s a no-brainer.  However, if you’re an out-of-stater, I can’t encourage you enough to just book a flight or drive hundreds of miles to get your Live Scan fingerprinting done in California.  I don’t care if you live in Hawaii or Guam. Think of how much a 3 month delay in opening your practice would cost you.  Probably at least $50,000.  Is it worth taking that risk?

Once your application is complete, you’ll receive a notice within 60 days regarding its status.  If you apply online, there’s a section to check your status.  I’m not sure how it works with paper submissions though.  I’m assuming you’ll receive instructions via written correspondence?

It’s too bad that there isn’t an option to just pay the application and license fee online without completing the online application.  Otherwise, I would probably apply on paper with the online payment receipt, instead of applying online.  Since that option doesn’t exist, I’m not sure what I would do if I had to apply today.  I tried filling out the online application, and it’s easy, but just feels like it’s going to get messy.  I think it’s a toss up between applying online and applying on paper, but I probably would still end up applying online if I had to go through this painful process again, mainly for the application status.  

If you apply online, MAKE SURE that you do NOT click on the “proceed to payment” button unless you have reviewed your application multiple times and are confident that it is error free.  Once you get to the payment page, you will not be able to make any further changes to your application without contacting the Medical Board.  I didn’t know that, and apparently ended up submitting my practice application.  Lol.  Thankfully, my application status says “open but not submitted.”  Since I didn’t pay anything, I’m assuming that the Medical Board will either never receive my application or will just toss it after it remains incomplete for 365 days.

Regardless of how you apply for your medical license, the most important thing is to read the application instructions thoroughly, follow directions to the T, and double check/triple check/quadruple check your entries.  Treat it the same as you would your medical school or residency application.  That’s what I did for every application, and I never ran into any delays because of some omission or error.

Once you secure your office address later down the road, don’t forget to change your address on file with the Medical Board.  It’s pretty easy to do.  You just have to go on the Breeze website, and select the “Change of Address” tab under the “Manage your license information” section.

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