Licensing Application Information
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The Medical Board's Licensing Program protects the consumer through the proper licensing of physicians and surgeons. The comprehensive review of an application provides that licensees have the requisite qualifications and educational credentials for medical practice.
California's licensing requirements remain among the most-stringent and thorough in the nation; nevertheless, an ever increasing number of applicants seek licensure in California. During the 2011-12 fiscal year, 6,623 applications were received and 5,351 licenses were granted.
Once an application has been received, governing regulations require staff to complete the initial review within 60 business days, although this often occurs in less time. Management has set a goal of keeping the review time to 45 calendar days or less. Since January 2011, we have met this goal approximately 80% of the time; during this period, the initial review of some files has occurred in 30 calendar days and the longest interval from receipt of an application to date of review was 52 calendar days.
Once a file is reviewed, the applicant is notified in writing of the application status and given an itemized list of documents needed to complete the file. These subsequent documents also will be reviewed in order of receipt. If a file is complete upon initial review, the license will be issued within the next seven to ten days. The Medical Board issues licenses twice a week.
However, despite these favorable times for the initial review of a file, applicants should recognize that the entire process can be lengthy and are encouraged to start the application process at least six to nine months before they need licensure. While the sense of urgency experienced by each applicant is understood, the licensing staff is responsible for reviewing many files and cannot complete the review of a file if required documents are missing. Oftentimes, the missing documents must be obtained from distant medical schools or programs, resulting in more delays. Furthermore, during busy times of the year, individual staff members may be working on over 500 files at any one time. It is imperative for applicants to understand that the review process is guided by the requirements set forth in State law, which does not provide for any waivers to be granted by staff or by the Board.
- Applications are reviewed in the order of receipt.
- Applicants should submit all required documentation as soon as possible; however, without both the application and the application fee, staff will not begin the initial review process.
- The criminal record check with the California Department of Justice and the FBI can be lengthy. LiveScan is the only fingerprinting process available for applicants in California, and it should be started early in the process, preferably at the time of application. Out-of-state applicants must submit fingerprint cards and should do so promptly, or they may come to California to use LiveScan.
- Do not wait to submit an application until all documentation is complete, because that will significantly delay the overall processing.
The review of applications filed by US/Canadian medical graduates is fairly routine. The review of applications filed by international graduates is more complex; delays usually are the result of education and training that does not meet the standard required in law and therefore must be remediated. Other extensive delays occur as applicants try to obtain documents from foreign institutions or when certified translations are needed.
Lastly, when all documents have been submitted and an application is complete, regulations allow an additional 100 days for processing. This time frame may include a senior management review of complex files and a request for clarification of some documented information.
The Board cannot predict the variables that may cause delays as each application is reviewed. Therefore, it is not possible to provide assurances that any applicant will be licensed by a specific date and this is why applicants are encouraged to apply early.