Colorado Medical Board: Physician Licensing Requirements

Physician Licensing Requirements


Qualifications for Physician Licensure

Colorado statutes (Section 12-36-107) set forth minimum qualifications for physician licensure. These requirements include: proof of graduation from medical school, passage of nationally recognized exams, satisfactory completion of postgraduate education, and submission of reference letters from previous practice locations. CMB staff verifies the license status of new applicants, search for disciplinary action taken by other state agencies, federal agencies and medical boards, and then forward the applications to the Board for review. The CMB uses this information to carefully screen physicians seeking licensure in Colorado. In the opinion of the Board, it is much easier, effective, and beneficial to the public to refuse an applicant who does not meet these criteria or possesses uncertain training or competence, than it is to later remove the license due to poor medical practice. The vast majority of applicants, however, are approved by the Board and licensed within 60 days of receipt of their application materials. The Board licenses 800 to 1,000 new physicians each year.

The Medical Board does NOT routinely grant waivers of the postgraduate training requirement. Only under very special and well documented circumstances will the candidate for licensure be presented to the Board for consideration if all requirements are not met. Please contact a licensing specialist for additional information on this topic. 

Reciprocal Licensing Agreements with Other States

Colorado does not have reciprocal licensing agreements (automatic reciprocity) with other states. The Board grants licenses on the basis of examination. Verification of licensure, and certified copies of any disciplinary actions taken in other states are required as part of the application.

Acceptance of Older Exam Scores

There is no barrier to granting a license based solely on when a physician sat for the licensure exam. As long as the exam has been accepted by the Board and the applicant meets other requirements, physicians should not hesitate to apply for licensure. Many physicians who have been in continuous medical practice have chosen to retire to Colorado. These physicians of course passed their exams early in their careers and are regularly granted licenses in Colorado.

Providing Verification of Licensing Exam History

Below are references for contacting the appropriate entity to provide a medical licensing board, hospital, managed care organization or credentialing agency with a physician's licensing exam history. 

Federation of State Medical Boards 
The Federation of State Medical Boards maintains and reports to licensing boards all examination history involving the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), Federation Licensing Examination (FLEX) and Special Purpose Examination (SPEX). Requests for scores can be made via the Federation's website at www.fsmb.org/transcripts.html. For questions or assistance, please call 817-868-4041 or email usmle@fsmb.org.

National Board of Medical Examiners
The National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) website provides information on NBME parts history at www.nbme.org/Cert-tran/certification.html. For questions or assistance, please call 215-590-9700 or fill out the contact form at www.nbme.org/contact/default.aspx.

National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners
The National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME) website provides information on NBOME Parts and the Comprehensive Osteopathic Licensing Examination (COMLEX) at www.nbonme.org. For questions or assistance, call 773-714-0622.

Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates
Certification verification by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) and the examinations leading to these certifications can be obtained at www.ecfmg.org. For questions or assistance, please call 215-386-5900 or email info@ecfmg.org.

* The Foreign Medical Graduates Examination in the Medical Sciences (FMGEMS) was used for meeting the medical sciences requirement of ECFMG certification and is not a licensing examination. 

Effect of Malpractice Suits on Licensure Applications

The licensure application asks only about those malpractice suits that are pending, or in which judgments or settlements have been rendered in the last five years. The applicant should provide a narrative of the circumstance of the suit, including information regarding the clinical care provided.

Requirements for International Medical School Graduates (IMGs)

The document referenced here provides a full listing of requirements for international medical graduates. The requirements include, but are not limited to, graduation from a medical school approved by the Colorado Medical Board, thirty-six months of clinically based postgraduate training in the United States or Canada, and one of the following: FLEX Exam (must also have passed the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates exam), state written exam, or USMLE.

Personal Appearances Before the Board

Personal appearances before the Medical Board are NOT required; however, the licensing meetings of the board are open to the public and you may attend if you wish.

Source Verification of Documents

The Medical Board requires original source verification documents for the following:

Application Deadline Dates

A licensing subcommittee meets each month to consider applications. A physician may not practice medicine in Colorado prior to being granted a license unless: 1) the physician is a resident or fellow in a recognized training program and holds a physician training license; or 2) the physician is legally practicing under the "occasional" practice of medicine provision of the Medical Practice Act. See the information in the application packet for specific licensure meeting dates and deadlines.

It takes approximately 60 to 90 days to become licensed. This assumes that all supporting and source verified documents are received by the Board office in a timely manner and there are no special circumstances which would require extended review of the application.

Licensure Application Fee

All fees are subject to review and change on July 1 each year. The application fee is not refundable. This fee covers the cost of processing the application and the licensing fee until the next renewal period. All physician licenses expire on April 30 of odd-numbered years. Physicians who apply for licensure close to the renewal period may wish to consider holding their applications until just after the renewal. Otherwise, they will be required to pay both the application and renewal fee in short succession.  

Reinstatement

Reinstatement is necessary to change a license status from expired to current. Certain requirements have been established to make these changes. You must complete and return the Reinstatement Application along with the applicable fee. The application may also require the following supporting documentation:

  • Verification from states in which you currently hold an active license;
  • Verification of the last two years of work history;
  • Verification from the Federation of State Medical Boards' Databank;
  • Compliance with, or claim exemption from, the Colorado malpractice insurance requirements;
  • Compliance with the continued competency rule (Rule 120)

Reactivation

Reactivation is necessary to change a license status from inactive to active. Do not use a reactivation application to change a license status from expired to current. Instead, you must apply for reinstatement of your license.

To reactivate your license, you must complete and return the Reactivation Application along with the applicable fee. The application may also require the following supporting documentation:

  • Verification from states in which you currently hold an active license;
  • Verification of the last two years of work history;
  • Verification from the Federation of State Medical Boards' Databank;
  • Compliance with, or claim exemption from, the Colorado malpractice insurance requirements;
  • Compliance with the continued competency rule (Rule 120)

Continued Competency

The Continued Competency Rule requires that the applicant (if not having engaged in active practice for two or more years in any state or country prior to the request for reinstatement or reactivation of the license) be able to demonstrate continued competency. Competency may be demonstrated by re-testing and/or re-training, or other means as proposed to and accepted by the Board.