Why It’s Easier To See A Doctor In Texas

Texas joined the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, which allows qualified doctors eligible to receive expediting licenses to practice medicine in the state.

By Charlene Badasie | Published

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Access to medical care in Texas received a major boost when the region joined the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact. The agreement, which offers expedited licensing for qualifying doctors, was signed into Texas law in 2021. But the agency only started accepting applications in March this year. It also includes 37 additional states, the Territory of Guam, and the District of Columbia.

Speaking about the availability of doctors, Executive Director of the Texas Medical Board Stephen Carlton told KXAN Investigations said getting additional physicians in the state creates greater access to medical care. “It has made it much easier for physicians to become licensed in Texas,” he said. It also does away with some regulatory paperwork for interstate medical practitioners.

According to the local Medical Board, the average waiting period for licensing through traditional methods was 26 days. But the compact speeds the process, with licenses issued to doctors in 10 days or less. Addressing concerns about the quality of care, Carlton said the shorter timeframe doesn’t result in lowered standards.

Carlton explained that the process was simply a “voluntary, expedited pathway” for doctors to get their licenses in Texas. “Once you get the license, you are subject to each state’s standard of care requirements, and to be able to maintain the license and practice in that state”, he told KXAN Investigations.

Moreover, the Compact dramatically reduces the wait time for an appointment with a doctor in Texas. Qualified physicians moving to the Lone Star state won’t have to wait before opening a practice. Residents can also access medical care via telehealth appointments which became popular during the height of the global pandemic.

This is how Doctor Niki Davis treats most of her patients. The Salt Lake City native is a board-certified Family and Lifestyle Medical Practitioner at Plant Based TeleHealth.  She recently applied to practice medicine in Texas and understands the time constraints of people who need medical care. “[It’s] very rushed in 10 or 15 minutes,” she told KXAN Investigations.

But with video calls and practicing in multiple states due to the Compact, Doctor Davis can see patients for 30 minutes to an hour. “I added Texas as soon as I saw that it was in the Compact,” she told the publication. She added that the Lone Star state has a lot of people seeking virtual appointments. Now, via Plant-Based TeleHealth, she can help them feel better.

Qualifying doctors need to meet a specific set of requirements to practice in multiple states. This includes holding a complete, unrestricted medical license in a member-state, the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact website says. Applicants must also choose a State of Principle Licensure, where they have a license to practice medicine.

Additionally, applicants must not have disciplinary actions related to their medical license in their practice history. Doctors with any other type of criminal history will also be disqualified. The application process begins with filling out an online form confirming eligibility. After they select their home state, a fee and mandatory fingerprinting for a criminal background check will be required.

If the process goes well, applicants can practice medicine across state lines. And the public will have more doctors to choose from.