Reporting Irregular Behavior or Other Disciplinary Actions When Applying for a Medical License

The consequences of a finding of Irregular Behavior cannot be understated.  As reported on our website , the Federation of State Medical Board’s website, and ECFMG: Engaging in irregular behavior can end your medical career before it starts.  Oftentimes the punishment accompanying a finding of Irregular Behavior precludes a doctor or medical student from sitting for any USMLE examinations for a period of time – usually ranging from 1 to 3 years, but, in certain cases, permanently.  While a finding of Irregular Behavior can limit an individual’s ability to sit for USMLE exams or obtain ECFMG certification, the impact of the finding does not end there.  At some point, the medical student or doctor is going to seek training and/or employment, which requires them to apply for a medical license.

We have represented a large number of individuals who were previously found to have engaged irregular behavior who, despite the finding, successfully obtained residency training positions (through and outside the Match) or other clinical positions.  For these individuals to onboard and/or start work, they must apply to the medical board of the state in which they seek to train or practice, to obtain a graduate medical education license (or “training permit”) or full, unrestricted license to practice medicine.  A question we often receive from clients in this unique position is whether the state medical board will learn of the Irregular Behavior and whether it should be disclosed.  The short answer to the question is yes.

This rule of thumb is best exemplified by an instruction contained within the “Professional History” section of the Texas Medical Board‘s licensing application:

“Attention – This is important: Be sure to disclose all relevant disciplinary actions, charges, or convictions. A false response to any of these questions may be grounds for disciplinary action, or even denial of licensure.  Avoid some of the common excuses heard from people who fail to disclose:

  • My attorney told me I didn’t have to disclose the criminal conduct or disciplinary actions.
  • I didn’t think the prior conduct had anything to do with the profession.
  • I didn’t think the disciplinary action, arrest, charges, or conviction was still on my record.
  • I didn’t think it was subject to disclosure because I received a deferred sentence/judgment.
  • My program director/faculty advisor said it wouldn’t appear on my record.”

Best practices weigh in favor of hiring experienced legal counsel to provide advice on whether and what to disclose when making application.  Over the years, our law firm has assisted dozens of physicians and aspiring physicians with responses to questions posed on state medical licensing board applications.  Should you seek legal advice and counsel regarding whether you are obligated to disclose any fact of your personal or professional history and the manner in which you should inform the medical board so as to minimize any risk of having an application denied, our experienced attorneys stand ready to assist.

For more than 10 years, Dennis L. Abramson has dedicated a significant portion of his practice to counseling and representing medical students, IMGs, residents, fellows, and practicing physicians in compliance and disciplinary matters related to ECFMG, USMLE, NBME, and NRMP, including responding to and defending allegations of irregular behavior and violations of the Match® agreement. Should you need advice or counsel with a related issue, please contact Mr. Abramson at 610-664-5700 or dabramson@theabramsonfirm.com.

Mr. Abramson regularly updates this page with the latest developments related to ECFMG, USMLE, NRMP, ABIM, irregular behavior, and physician licensing and credentialing issues, so check back soon.

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