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Understanding Tennessee’s New Pathway to Licensure for International Medical Graduates

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In the complex world of medical licensure, understanding new legislation can be challenging, especially for foreign-trained physicians. The recent amendments to medical practice laws in Tennessee seek to integrate more international medical graduates into the healthcare system. Here, we’ll guide you through these changes in a Q&A format, clarifying what you need to know about practicing medicine in Tennessee if you’re an international graduate.

How did the application process for international medical graduates in Tennessee change?

The recently amended legislation has broadened the scope of who can apply to practice medicine in Tennessee. Now, international medical graduates who completed residency outside the U.S. can apply to practice medicine in Tennessee.

What are the requirements for international medical graduates to practice medicine in Tennessee?

If you have completed residency outside the United States and would like to get a license to practice medicine in the state of Tennessee, you need the following:

  1. Have completed a three-year post-graduate training program (residency or fellowship training in their home country) or have practiced for at least three out of the last five years outside the United States.
  2. Evidence of being an international graduate
  3. A job offer from a healthcare provider in Tennessee that runs an ACGME-accredited post-graduate training program (residency or fellowship program).
  4. The board’s assessment of demonstrated ‘competency’.
  5. ECFMG Certification: You must have your ECFMG certification to be able to practice in Tennessee.
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What is the main challenge for international graduates with this new law?

Finding a job in an institution with an ACGME-accredited residency or fellowship training. These jobs are generally not easy to find and tend to necessitate a robust academic record, with a particular emphasis on leadership qualities and research contributions. If you would like to learn more about research and boost your research portfolio, make sure to check out our research and systematic review courses.

Do I need to complete STEP 1 and STEP 2 CK to be able to practice in the U.S.?

Yes, you need to complete and pass both STEP 1 and STEP 2 CK to practice medicine in the U.S.

What is needed to get the ECFMG certification?

You need to pass STEP 1, STEP 2 CK, OET exam, and apply to one of the 6 pathways to become ECFMG certified. You can find more information about the 6 pathways for ECFMG certification here.

What is a provisional license?

A provisional license is a permit granted to an international medical graduate who meets the stipulated requirements. This license only allows medical practice at healthcare providers running an ACGME-accredited residency program. That means you cannot practice at a private practice without an ACGME-accredited residency training. You don’t have to be enrolled in residency in that institution, but you must be in an institution that has a residency program. The Board has the power to revoke this license if the licensee violates medical safety, competency, or conduct standards. The revoked licensee has a right to appeal the decision within 120 days.

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How can a provisional temporary licensee transition to a full and unrestricted license?

Once a provisional licensee maintains good standing for two years post initial licensure, the board must grant them a full and unrestricted license. With this, the licensee isn’t limited to practicing at healthcare facilities with a residency program. That means you can practice anywhere in Tennessee, including private practices without an ACGME-accredited residency training.

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When does the law take effect?

The new law comes into effect on July 1, 2024.

In conclusion, the new law in Tennessee is a welcome development for international medical graduates. By recognizing their experience and skills, the state opens more doors for these medical professionals, which may eventually contribute to better healthcare provision across Tennessee.

Update:

On April 9, 2024, we contacted the Medical Board of Tennessee for updates about the pathway for issuing a license to practice medicine in Tennessee to international medical graduates without repeating U.S. residency.

They said they have not received any information or updates other than the bill passed and already available online.

There’s no application process set up yet for this pathway (so you can’t submit an application at this point). The bill states that the new law comes into effect on July 1, 2024.

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By Malke Asaad

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