Medical Licensing: Enough With the Paperwork Already

Andrew N. Wilner, MD


April 23, 2015

In This Article

Data Gathering Gone Wild

As a locum tenens neurologist, I frequently fill out forms in order to obtain state medical licenses and hospital privileges. Although I appreciate the need to vet physicians and the necessity for thoroughness, a recent application totaled 39 pages. The required information included dates of graduation from college, medical school, and residency programs; their respective addresses and telephone numbers; dates of service at former employers, as well as their addresses, telephone, fax numbers, and email addresses; dates of state medical and narcotic licensing, along with their respective license numbers and expiration dates; detailed malpractice history and insurer information; and the usual yes/no questions regarding illegal activity. For state medical licenses, notarized documents and fingerprints are now de rigueur.

Not to mention the time and trouble involved in these applications, license-related fees for physicians who have multiple state licenses add up to $300 million a year!

Ancient History

I have diligently and obediently filled out these forms, losing many an evening and weekend in the process. But the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak, was when a hospital asked for the name of my high school and date of graduation.


I graduated high school in 1973—more than 40 years ago. Since then, I attended college and two medical schools; completed an internship, two residencies (internal medicine and neurology), and a 1-year EEG fellowship; worked in a variety of clinical positions; and currently hold active medical licenses in a number of states, all in good standing.

What possible use could information about my high school serve? Let's take the most extreme possible case: that I never actually went to high school. Even if that were true (which it isn't), given everything that has transpired since 1973, what possible bearing could it have on whether or not I should receive hospital privileges in 2014?


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