In January of 2019 Tennessee joined the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact. And on one hand, this opened up a lot of opportunity for Tennessee doctors.
Doctors can now fill out an online form to get almost instantly licensed in any member state, including two of Tennessee’s border states: Mississippi and Alabama. And doctors who want to practice telemedicine now have a clear pathway towards doing so.
But like all good things, TN’s inclusion in IMLCC comes with a dark side. Thanks to the way it is structured, physician risks have increased. The loss or suspension of a license now not only threatens a doctor’s ability to practice in his or her home state, but also threatens that doctor’s ability to practice in all member states.
Threat #1: If You Have Negative History, You Can’t Apply.
Any doctor who has any issue of disciplinary action cannot use the expedited process. The doctor can’t even be under investigation for any kind of disciplinary action.
This isn’t to say you wouldn’t be able to apply to each state individually, the long way around, the same way you would have before Tennessee joined the compact. But member states may still be far less likely to grant the license.
Threat #2: Disciplinary Actions are One and Done
If you hold a license in a non-member state the board of that state can’t discipline you for complaints without holding their own investigations and hearings. Under IMLCC, one investigation is good enough for all the states.
“If a disciplinary action is taken against a physician by a member board not in the state of principal license, any other member board may consider the action conclusive as to matter of law, and, in fact, decided.” –Compact Laws, Bylaws, Rules, Policies, & Advisory Opinions.
This language alone raises concerns about a physician’s due process vis a vis licensure defense. So does language which demands member boards share complaint or disciplinary information about any physician, upon request, to any other member board.
Threat #3: Lose One, Lose Them All
Losing your license in any other state means losing your license in every member state.
“If a license granted to a physician by a member board is revoked, surrendered, or relinquished in lieu of discipline, or suspended, then any license issued to the physician by any other board shall be suspended, automatically and immediately.”-Compact Laws, Bylaws, Rules, Policies, and Advisory Opinions.
See also: Professional Licensure Defense.
Embrace the opportunity, but don’t ignore the threat.
The telemedicine market is a $130 billion dollar market. Doctors who need the extra source of income shouldn’t hesitate to dive in, as long as the diving is done with caution.
If you are going to take advantage of the compact, it is absolutely vital to have a licensure defense attorney available to you at all times. And being a good doctor is not enough. Good doctors are not immune to finding their licenses under threat.