Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Do you need a medical license for non-clinical physician jobs?

Do you need a medical license for non-clinical physician jobs? It depends on the job. If you're going to work in pharma as a medical director (research, health outcomes, marketing, education, etc.), then you won't need a medical license. If you're reviewing medical charts for a managed care organization, then you will need an active unrestricted license.

I know many physicians who gave up their medical license when they left the world of clinical medicine. Since some states require you to maintain malpractice insurance if you have an active license, it simply doesn't make sense to spend that much money on a license you're never going to use. In some states, the fees to renew a license are marginal. In other states, they can be relatively expensive (generally less than a thousand dollars, but more than several hundred dollars).

I also know several physicians who chose to go out and re-obtain a medical license after working in a non-clinical setting for many years without a license. Perhaps they felt they needed a backup plan in case the recession resulted in job displacement or unemployment. Others wanted to start volunteering.

The question of licensure comes up frequently when I'm speaking with medical students and residents. They may not have an active medical license. They may not wish to complete the required level of training so they can qualify for a medical license. Some remember the "good ol' days" when you could get a medical license after a single year of internship and practice as a general practitioner (GP). Although many states will still allow you to get a medical license after internship, you should not expect to find any clinical jobs as a GP these days. Those days of being a GP and receiving reimbursement from insurance companies are nearing an end.

So, before you give up your medical license, make sure you do your research so that you can keep your options open. It may not hurt to maintain your license, stay current on CME (continuing medical education), and volunteer your clinical services.

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