Moving on


Learn how to avoid license-related and other complications should you decide to move your practice out of state.

Key Points

How can something seemingly so simple be so complicated? I hope the lessons I have learned will help you avoid license-related and other complications should you ever make an out-of-state move.


After applying for my third physician's license in 10 years, I have become familiar with the ins and outs of getting re-established as a physician in a new state. I now have the phone menus of several state regulatory boards memorized. Although state Web sites promise that everything can be done easily online, have no doubt that at some point you will have to phone the state. All of the offices use the same basic format, and, of course, it is virtually impossible to speak with a human being.


The first truism you must understand is that you can never, ever start planning too early to move your practice to a different state. It may be easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of looking at new houses, exploring new neighborhoods, and envisioning paint schemes. Understandably, getting around to a more tedious employment checklist can fall by the wayside. Do not let this happen.

When applying for a license in another state, expect the process to take several months at best. The quickest turnaround time I can remember was about 2 months, and I believe this timeframe was for my first license, so the process likely was faster because I didn't have a work history.

Time is of the essence, especially if you already have a job with a definite start date waiting for you in the new state. You want to start your job on that date, right? Don't start off on the wrong foot by not having acquired your license in time. That being said, if you have secured a position, your new office manager or another staff member may be able to assist you with obtaining hospital affiliations, insurance, and new state licensure. (See "Dot your Is and cross those Ts" for more about the application process.)


Should you keep your license current in the state from which you are moving? That's a personal decision. If you just renewed your license, then renewal is a moot point, but if your license is up for renewal in month or so, is it worth it?

It may be a pricey endeavor, but depending on your situation, you may need multiple licenses. For instance, is there a chance you may return to the state within a short timeframe? I recently met a busy surgeon who told me that he maintains licenses in four states-the state where he obtained his original license and three others where he performs surgeries. Fortunately, most of us do not need four different state medical licenses, but two may be appropriate.

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