It is becoming increasingly common and necessary for doctors to obtain multiple state medical licenses. This is driven by widespread use of telemedicine, growth of healthcare organizations that operate in multiple states, and other factors. If you’ve applied for even one medical license you know that it takes a significant amount of time. Using a physician licensing service to assist in obtaining medical licenses is a great option.
A medical license application service is a simple business model in which a physician pays a third-party to complete all aspects of the license application process (except for those that actually require the applicant, such as signatures and fingerprinting).
This article basic info about how to go about using a physician licensing service, what to expect during the process, and some tips for how to ensure that the process goes smoothly.
Answers to common questions about physician licensing services
If you’re new to the concept of doctor licensing services or on the fence about whether you should use one, here are answers to some basic questions about this type of service.
How do you find a good licensing service?
It’s unquestionably important to use a service that is both trustworthy and competent. You’ll be sending someone personal information and you need to depend on them to take all the necessary steps to get you licensed.
Word of mouth is a great way to do this. Ask around among your colleagues and professional groups. A doctor who has had a good experience with a medical license application service will be eager to share who they used.
A personal recommendation
From my own experience, I highly recommend a company called Medical Licensing Services. I have worked with them for at least 5 of my licenses, and it was fast and smooth every time.
Medical Licensing Services is the most experienced licensing agency in the industry. They became an independent corporation in 1994, but their experience began many years before that, in 1985. Their president, Deborah Hinton, ran the licensure departments for some of the largest national locum tenens firms. She has both processed and overseen the processing of thousands of licenses.
Please mention Look for Zebras when you contact Medical Licensing Services!
How does the process work?
The typical process for working with a licensing service involves these steps:
- AGREEMENT – After your initial verbal or email communications with the licensing service, they’ll likely ask you to sign a written agreement. It will lay out what they’ve agreed to do, what you’ve agreed to pay, and the fact that they’re not ultimately responsible if your medical license is denied or delayed.
- INFORMATION GATHERING – This will be the most time-consuming part for you as the applicant. You’ll need to provide the service provider with all the information they need to complete your application, including your personal information, educational history, medical practice history, and malpractice disciplinary action history. They will likely have a form or checklist to guide you through this.
- INITIAL APPLICATION STEPS – Once you’ve passed along all the necessary info, the ball is out of your court for a while. The licensing service provider will be busy completing the state license application and other initial steps. They might reach out to you for any info you may have missed or questions that arise.
- APPLICATION REVIEW, SIGNATURES, NOTARIZING, AND FINGERPRINTING – You’ll be sent a partially completed application that you need to review and complete. You will check the application for accuracy, check off boxes, and sign and date. For most states, you will need to get at least one page notarized. In most cases, you’ll also get fingerprinted at this point, though this will come later for some states. Once you’re done, you’ll send all the papers back to the medical licensing service.
- SUBMISSION – The licensing service will do a final review of your application and submit all the required materials. In most cases, they will submit the application fee and any other fees directly, by either having you send them checks or including the fees as part of your total payment to them.
- THE WAITING GAME – Then you’ll wait for the state to process your application. The physician licensing service will keep tabs on your application status, make sure all components are received, and address any issues, which may or may not require action on your part.
- FINAL STEPS – Once your license has been granted, the process might not be completely finished. Some licensing service providers will have listed their business address as the contact address on your application so that they were the initial point of contact throughout the process. You might have one final signature to provide as they request a formal change of address with the state.
What does the licensing service expect from me?
Even though you’re paying someone a hefty fee for this service, you’re not off the hook entirely. The ability of the licensing services to successfully and quickly do their job depends on them getting what they need from you. This includes:
- All the personal and professional information they request from you
- Timely responses to their questions
- Payments for any license-associated fees that they need so that the state will process your application
What should I expect from the licensing service provider?
Here’s what you should reasonably expect from a doctor licensing service:
- Clear communication about exactly what they need from you
- Updates about the status of your application
- In-depth knowledge about state licensing requirements and application processes
- Transparent pricing
How much can I expect to pay?
Speaking of transparent pricing, by this point you may be wondering how much this service will cost you.
The prices that I’ve seen recently are around $600 to $650 for a single medical license.
Some companies charge extra for the first license, but significantly less for subsequent licenses.
You can likely receive expedited service for an additional fee. You may be charged extra if you have a history of license suspensions or revocations. Keep an eye out for additional tack-on fees related to things like shipping and tracking.
You might receive a discounted rate for:
- Purchasing services for multiple states at once
- Being a repeat customer
- Buying their other services, such as insurance credentialing
- Being a resident physician or in the military
Couldn’t I do this all myself?
If you don’t anticipate ever applying for more than one or two state medical licenses, you should probably go ahead and do them yourself. Given all the information you need to provide to a licensing service as a new customer, you won’t save yourself a huge amount of time on the first license.
The more licenses you have, the more cumbersome the state application process becomes. On the other hand, the licensing service will already have all your info and be familiar with you as an applicant. They will do the extra work – not you. So, more licenses means a better bang for your buck when it comes to using a physician licensing company.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of hiring someone.
Benefits and drawbacks of using a physician licensing service
- You’ll save time on administrative tasks
- Whereas you might forget to check on the status of your license application, a hired professional will keep on top of it
- A licensing service will ensure consistency from application to application when you apply for multiple licenses
- When state requirements are confusing, the licensing service provider is either already knowledgeable or will proactively get questions answered from the state board
- Licensing services have experience in navigating the application process for doctors with “unique” backgrounds and situations
- Although you’re involving an extra person in the process, your application will likely get through the system faster than if you’re juggling everything yourself
- This service costs money
- Depending on someone else to complete your application means there is the risk of a mistake or a miscommunication
- You relinquish some privacy
- There is additional reliance on the postal service (or other courier service) when sending your application materials back and forth
My opinion is that if you have 3 licenses or more, the benefits of using a medical application licensing service for any subsequent applications greatly outweigh the drawbacks.
Tips for a working with a physician licensing service
I’ve worked with a licensing service for 8 of my state medical licenses. Here are some tips based on my experience.
Put in effort and time up front
The initial questionnaire that you’re asked to fill out will be lengthy. Take the time to fill it out completely, clearly, and accurately. Sending incomplete, ambiguous, or inadvertently incorrect details to the licensing service will, at the least, cost you more time later on. Worse, it could lead to your application being denied.
Read everything carefully
The communications you receive from the licensing service provider may be wordy. You need to resist the urge to skip down to the questions or signature line.
Read the entire communication to be sure you understand what you need to do. Do they want you to sign just one page, or five pages? Do they want you to send a form back to them, or send it directly to the state board? It’s easy to miss these details and disrupt the intended process.
Respond in a timely manner
One of the main reasons that using a physician licensing service is worth the money is because they get it done quickly. But there are certain parts of the process that are entirely dependent on you. If you delay these, the whole process gets delayed.
By doing what’s asked of you by the service provider as quickly as you can, you’ll allow them to do their job more efficiently. As a result, you’ll be happier with their service in the end.
Don’t forget that you’re ultimately responsible for your license applications
In a similar vein, read any state application materials that come to you. Though your application will likely be complete except for your signature and a few checkboxes by the time it makes its way to you, look over the entire thing. Make sure that all of the questions are answered correctly.
You are the one who is ultimately responsible for your medical license application. Don’t risk your application being delayed or denied due to an error that you didn’t catch simply because you didn’t take the time to look.
Take your privacy and security seriously
Your licensing service provider will ask for personal information. The more of it you’re willing to disclose to them, the easier the application process becomes for you. On the other hand, the more personal info you provide, the more you expose yourself to privacy and security concerns.
Take steps to mitigate the risk as best you can. For example, give your social security number over the phone instead of through email.
If you choose to give the licensing service access to any online physicians portals (such as state board websites for the purpose of license verification), use a secure password sharing tool like LastPass or be sure that your password is not similar to the password you use for anything else.
If you practice telemedicine or any other medical practice that requires you to have multiple state medical licenses, I recommend considering the use of a medical licensing service – such as Medical Licensing Services – to assist in getting all the licenses you need. You’ll save yourself time and headaches.