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A Guide to Physician Licensing

(Basics of physician licensing, difficulties of licensing & the IMLC)


If you are transitioning from a resident to an attending, or shifting to locums or telemedicine work for the first time, the licensing process can be a challenging and time-consuming part of the process. We want to help make it as stress free as possible. Below, find information and resources on obtaining a license and on getting licensed in multiple states.


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Quick Links


Jennifer Lincoln at BlueShift Licensing

     BlueShift Licensing offers concierge assistance and does the majority of the work so you can focus on the many other things you likely need to when applying for licenses (job transitions, moves, etc). The founder, Jen, is highly experienced and has helped so many physicians and companies get their licensing completed efficiently.  They do licensing in all US states.

     Email Jen at to get started. Make sure to mention PSG for 10% off of licensing and credentialing related services through our advertising relationship!


Our wonderful licensing partner, Jennifer at Blue Shift Licensing, has provided information included below to help you navigate the licensing process.

Licensing in a critical and often times frustrating and time-consuming part of being a physician, especially in the world of locums. The licensing process varies from state to state, and the requirements can be overwhelming, making it difficult for many medical professionals to navigate the process on their own.

Quick Stats

The most popular states for licensing to make you more marketable to telemedicine companies currently seem to be:

  • Arizona

  • California

  • Florida

  • Michigan

  • New York

  • Texas

  • Washington

The states physicians seem to cite as the slowest/most difficult states for licensing include:

  • California

  • Massachusetts

  • Nevada

  • Pennsylvania

The states physicians seem to cite as the fastest/easiest states for licensing include:

  • Colorado

  • Connecticut

  • Florida (telehealth registration)

  • Maine

Basics of Licensing

Each state has its own licensing requirements, such as special CME courses required, and its own process for getting licensed. Other states have prescription writing requirements. As noted above, some are much easier to navigate than others. And as mentioned below, the licensing process can take months in certain states. It's important to understand the specifics of the licensing process for the particular state you're interested in and that you're aware what the typical timeline is so you can plan accordingly when scheduling contracts, moving, etc.

If you'll considering a move for personal reasons in a few years, you want to start locums for added flexibility, or you're looking at starting telemedicine as a side gig, it can benefit you to get a jump start on the licensing process so that your plans don't get delayed or derailed. Research the state's (or states') particular deadlines and do not miss them.

Federal work: if you'll be working for the military or VA, you will not need to get another license. You can use any state license.

Tips for Licensing

If you're a new graduate and haven't gone through the licensing process, or it's been a while since you've gone through the process, here are a few things to have ready to help you through the licensing process with the least amount of headaches.

  • When looking up the licensing requirements for your particular state of interest or when contacting their licensing board to prepare for the licensing process, request a current copy of the requirements and the current estimate processing time.

  • Use your professional network to stay current on licensing updates or changes in your state(s) of question.​

  • Be proactive! Following up with institutions who are required to verify your credentials (licensing boards in states where you are currently licensed, medical school(s), hospital(s), etc.) can help move the verification process quicker.

  • Be patient (which is a delicate balance with our previous tip, we know) especially in April - September, which are generally heavier application months and thus likely to have longer processing times.

Documents to Compile

​It's best to consult the guidelines from the licensing board as, again, licensing requirements vary state by state, but here's a general idea of some of the documents to have compiled for the licensing process that you will likely need.

  • Have your current curriculum vitae (CV) or resume ready

  • Proof of your medical school education​

  • Proof of your graduate training

  • Proof of completion of your US Medical Licensing Examination (all three steps)

  • References are good to have ready to go

  • Current and past licenses

Difficulties of the Licensing Process

Difficulties of the medical professional licensing process include:

  • It's a complex process

    • Each state has different requirements for obtaining a medical license, which can be difficult to navigate. Some states require extensive paperwork, while others require specific exams or certifications. Keeping up with the changing regulations and requirements can be challenging.​

  • It's time consuming​

    • The licensing process can take months to complete (some states can require your paperwork to go before the board which only meets quarterly). This includes gathering all the necessary documentation, completing exams and applications, and waiting for approvals. This can be particularly challenging for physicians who are trying to start a new locums position, relocate, or start their own private practice.​

  • It's strenuous​

    • The licensing process can be mentally and emotionally taxing. The pressure of getting everything right and ensuring that all the necessary documentation is submitted correctly can be overwhelming.​

  • It has high risks for errors​

    • The licensing process involves a lot of paperwork and documentation, which can increase the risk of making errors. Mistakes can lead to delays or even denial of the license, which can be detrimental to your career.​

Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC)

The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC) is an agreement among US states and territories that helps streamline the licensing process for physicians who want to practice in multiple states. The IMLC offers an (optional) expedited route to licensure who physicans who qualify. As of June 2023, the IMLC included thirty-seven states (with other states in the process of introducing legislation to adopt it), Washington DC, and Guam.

Approximately 80% of US physicians meet the criteria for expedited licensing under the IMLC. This streamlined process can be a great asset for physicians currently or planning on doing short-term locums assignments across multiple states or physicians looking to start telemedicine, either as a side gig or as part of their private practice.

Eligibility Requirements to Participate in IMLC

  • Hold an unrestricted medical license in a participating state

  • Use that state as your place of residence for tax purposes

  • Your primary residence must be in that state

  • Be employed to practice medicine by a person/business/organization located within that state

  • At least 25% of your practice of medicine must occur in that state

  • Graduated from an accredited medical school (or a International Medical Education Directory equivalent)

  • Completed ACGME- or AOA-accredited graduate medical education

  • Passed the USMLE, COMLEX-USA, or equivalent in three attempts or less for each component

  • Hold a current specialty (or time-unlimited) certification by an ABMS or AOABOS board

Benefits of the IMLC

Joining the IMLC offers several benefits for physicians, including:

  • Streamlined licensing process

  • Increased mobility and flexibility (especially for telemedicine and locum tenens work)

  • Reduced administrative burdens by eliminating

    • repeating the full licensure application process with each individual state

    • duplicative background checks​

    • submitting extensive documentation for each state

  • Cost savings​

  • Collaboration and professional growth (allows you to network, share best practices, and collaborate on research and professional development opportunities with colleagues in other IMLC member states)


To see if you qualify for IMLC and for assistance with the process,  email Jen at to get started. Make sure to mention PSG for 10% off of licensing and credentialing related services through our advertising relationship!

Do I need to be licensed in multiple states?

The answer to this question depends a lot on your specific situation. As mentioned above, being licensed in multiple states can help with telemedicine and locums, as either side gigs or full-time work.

One of the advantages of being licensed in multiple states is that it can potentially increase your revenue by:

  • Increasing your patient base

  • Enabling you to take more telemedicine and locums opportunities

  • Opening up access to higher-paying states.

    • Some states may have higher reimbursement rates for medical services compared to others​

  • Providing increased flexibility and business expansion opportunities​

  • Giving you a competitive advantage over other physicians who are only licensed in one state

What are the benefits of outsourcing licensing?

We've mentioned some of the headaches of licensing above and if you know, you know! Whether you decide to outsource your license or DIY is a personal decision and decide on many factors. For instance, if you've done locums for years and have already gotten licensed in several states and are very comfortable and familiar with the process, you likely don't need guidance.  Similarly, if you're just getting licensed in one state, you may not find the process particularly burdensome, depending on the state.  

Alternatively, you may be one of those people who'd rather work an extra shift and offset the cost of assistance to avoid the paperwork, or just not have time to stay on top of where you are in each state's process.   


Here are a few potential benefits to consider when it comes to professional licensing assistance:

  • It can save you time, allowing you to focus on your job and relocation

  • It can help reduce stress and pressure at an already stressful time of change

  • It can save you money in the long run with the time saved spent on the licensing process and any financial burdens due to errors that cause delays and denials of licenses

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