California will soon become the first state to require all DOs and MDs to complete 36 months of graduate medical education before they can get a full medical license.
Starting Jan. 1, 2020, DOs and MDs with fewer than 36 months of GME will be required to obtain a postgraduate training license (PTL). After finishing 36 months of GME, physicians then have 90 days to obtain a full license. For more details on this upcoming change, see the Osteopathic Medical Board of California’s FAQ and slide deck about it.
Current, future residents to be affected
California currently requires DOs and MDs to have one year of GME for full licensure. The new law will not be retroactive, so California DOs who obtained full licensure after a year of GME will not be affected by it. However, it will impact all California DO residents who have finished fewer than 36 months of residency and don’t get a full license by the start of 2020.
Under the new law, residents will be allowed to moonlight with written permission from their program director.
“OPSC remains committed to assisting medical students and residents as this new requirement takes effect,” says Nick Birtcil, executive director of the Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons of California (OPSC). “Because many facilities require completion of a residency program or board certification, this change codifies what had already been the general practice in California.
“As many states have expanded the scope of practice for midlevel providers, OPSC and our colleagues in California remain committed to ensuring that physicians remain the leader of the medical team. We are working with stakeholders to expand loan repayment programs and offer physicians flexible authority to contract with additional midlevel providers, therefore expanding access to care.”
New requirements more stringent than those in other states
California’s new law follows the Federation of State Medical Boards’ guidelines, which recommend that boards require 36 months of GME for full licensure.
However, at this time, requiring a year of GME for full licensure is the norm in the majority of states. Thirty-seven U.S. states and Washington, DC, require DOs to have one year of GME for full licensure, according to the FSMB. Thirty-three states and Washington, DC, require MDs to have one year of GME for full licensure.
Only two other states—Maine and Nevada—have three-year GME requirements for full licensure.
Maine’s MD board requires three years of GME; its DO board requires one year of GME. Nevada’s DO board requires three years of GME for full licensure but will grant full licenses to physicians after two years of GME if they make a commitment to practicing in the state. The Silver State’s MD board also requires three years of GME for full licensure but will grant full licenses on a case-by-case basis to physicians who finish 24 months of a residency program.
Twelve states—Alaska, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Utah, Wyoming and Wisconsin—require DOs and MDs to have two years of GME before they can obtain full licensure.