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Unlocking Opportunities: Why Physicians Should Consider Getting Licensed In More Than One State

Published on: May 1, 2024

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Whether you’re relocating for a new job or want to give telemedicine a try, there are plenty of reasons you may want to be licensed to practice in another state. Yet historically, obtaining a license has been a complicated and lengthy process. The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC) has made it much easier and faster to get licensed in a majority of U.S. states.


About accelerated medical licensure

The IMLC is an agreement among participating U.S. states and territories that streamlines the licensing process and allows physicians to practice in multiple states more easily, by offering an expedited pathway for eligible physicians to obtain additional medical licenses in participating states. Most U.S. states and territories are members of the IMLC.

The stated mission of the IMLC is to “increase access to healthcare,” and it does so by extending the reach of physicians, improving access to medical specialists, and leveraging the use of technology, such as telemedicine.

While patients — particularly those in medically underserved communities — stand to benefit immensely from this increased access to healthcare services, there are many benefits to physicians who are licensed to practice in multiple states.

More flexibility in where you can practice

The primary benefit of holding licenses in multiple states is increased flexibility in practice locations. With multiple licenses, physicians can extend their services across state lines. Importantly, it allows physicians to more easily adapt to changing circumstances, such as relocating for personal or professional reasons, pursuing job opportunities in different states, or responding swiftly to healthcare crises and emergencies in areas requiring additional support.

Pennsylvania-based pulmonologist Dr. Gary Drizin retired from his practice of 38 years in 2020. Upon retirement, he looked forward to spending time at his home in Vail, Colorado, but also wanted to remain engaged professionally.

“I decided that what CompHealth offered — a balance of work and free time — would be a good transition instead of an all-of-a-sudden change from my full-time practice,” says Dr. Drizin. “I had a Pennsylvania license and thought it would be useful to have a Colorado license because of my residence in Vail. When I heard it was a compact state, I did the additional requirements to get the compact license.”

Thanks to the compact, Dr. Drizin currently holds licenses in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Michigan.

“I’m currently in Saginaw, Michigan, and I got the job with the help of my Colorado compact license. In a week, I was able to get my Michigan license and health system privileges, so within a few weeks of that job becoming available, I was at work in Saginaw.”

Expanded opportunity in telemedicine

The demand for telemedicine is on the rise, fueled by technological advancements, increased demand for accessible healthcare, and the need for innovative solutions during public health crises. Telemedicine benefits both patients and physicians by offering convenient access to medical care and flexible, efficient patient management. Nearly all states require a physician to be licensed in the state where the patient is located — so to make the most out of a telehealth practice, many healthcare providers hold multiple state licenses.

“Virtual care has become a more natural, accepted way to practice medicine,” says Matt Brown, VP of telehealth at CHG Healthcare. “The telehealth boom is especially beneficial to rural patients, who now have better access than ever to specialty care.”

Brown says the telemedicine model also helps meet the needs of physicians who want the flexibility to work the hours and shifts that fit their lifestyle.

Many health systems are looking to locum tenens physicians to meet the demand for telemedicine, particularly when an organization needs part-time telemedicine support.

“Locum tenens physicians are a good solution when an organization only needs a part-time telehealth resource,” says Brown. “Healthy systems also bring in locum providers when staff physicians are stretched too thin to support a virtual care program effectively. Virtual locum physicians can relieve the pressure and quickly scale clinical capacity.”

More options to work locum tenens

Locum tenens allows physicians to supplement their income while maintaining a flexible schedule, making it ideal for those transitioning into retirement or seeking additional earnings. It also allows physicians to explore new locations, cultures, and healthcare systems through travel assignments, fostering personal and professional growth outside their regular practice settings.

For physicians interested in locum tenens assignments, the IMLC can help accelerate the process, depending on where they hold their primary license and in which state they are looking to practice.

Dr. Siamak Karimian, an interventional cardiologist based in Los Angeles, has been working locum tenens for nearly two decades. He quickly discovered a love for traveling and now holds 32 state licenses. No stranger to licensing and credentialing, Dr. Karimian credits the IMLC with simplifying the process.

“It’s a piece of cake compared to the traditional process,” says Dr. Karimian. “The IMLC sped up the processes for my licenses in South Dakota and Minnesota, where I’m working now.” Dr. Karimian plans to keep up locum tenens and says he’d like to work in more of the central states now that getting licenses through the compact is easier.

When working locum tenens through a healthcare staffing agency, physicians may receive assistance with licensing and credentialing. CompHealth supports the licensing process for its providers, whether you’re relocating for a job or taking a locum tenens assignment in another state.

Are you looking for a new job or your next locum tenens assignment in another state? Check out CompHealth’s physician job openings, many of which are in IMLC member states.