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What Licenses are Doctors Required by Law to Have at All Times?

Becoming a medical doctor is a lengthy process, but for good reason. Doctors are responsible for treating their patients for a variety of issues by properly diagnosing the problem, providing treatment options, and prescribing medication or other solutions that can help each individual get back to their regular lifestyle. Doctors are required to learn a lot of information before they are able to practice, and here are the education, license, and certification requirements that the law requires each doctor to hold.


All medical doctors are required to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university and to have passed the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) before submitting an application to medical school. Students then need to complete medical school, receiving either a Doctor of Medicine or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. At the conclusion of this program, candidates are required to obtain experience in a residency program at an approved healthcare facility.


After completing medical school, doctors must pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). Passing this exam is required in all 50 states in the United States, as well as its territories. Some companies, such as MedPro Systems, know that in some states, doctors need to retake this exam if they were certified in another location; however, many states will accept a license achieved in a different state.

Specialty Certification

Though not mandatory, in order to be certified to practice in a specific specialty, a doctor must be certified by either the American Board of Medical Specialists (ABMS) or the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) based on their education background. These certifications are completed during residency programs, and doctors are required to pass both written and verbal assessments to attain them. If a doctor wishes to pursue another specialty, become a teacher, or conduct specific research, they must attend another residency program and attain the proper certifications.


Osteopathic doctors are required to get recertified every 10 years. Recertification is necessary every six years for a gynecology specialist and every eight years for a family practice doctor. These doctors are also required to pursue continuing education courses to maintain their knowledge of the ever-changing healthcare industry. A large portion of these classes must be taken in their specific specialty. For general medical doctors, the recertification timeline and process differs depending on each doctor’s specialty, but all doctors are continuously reviewed and assessed based on their knowledge and practice.

Doctors undergo vigorous processes to ensure that they are licensed to practice medicine and treat and heal their patients. This process involves many years of schooling, examinations, programs, and continuing education courses, guaranteeing that each doctor is qualified in their specialty.

Author Info: Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn’t on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook: @RachelleWilber.

Bob Kraft

I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law and Social Security Disability.

About This Blog

The title of this blog reflects my attitude toward those government agencies and insurance companies that routinely mistreat injured or disabled people. As a Dallas, Texas lawyer, I've spent more than 45 years trying to help those poor folk, and I have been frustrated daily by the actions of the people on the other side of their claims. (Sorry if I offended you...)

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