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Understanding the three criteria for physician licensure

There is a reason why physicians are some of the most revered professionals in society. To become a doctor requires skill, dedication and extensive education. All of this work eventually qualifies a physician to become licensed, but sometimes qualifications are called into question or even denied. In such circumstances, acquiring legal representation is wise for some patients. These rare cases demonstrate the importance for the general public to understand the criteria for licensure.

According to the New York State Education Department, in addition to possessing good moral character and being at least 21, physician licensure requires that applicants satisfy criteria for education, examination and experience. People should know the following details about each of these criteria. 


The educational requirements of New York necessitate that physicians complete both pre-professional and professional education prior to becoming licensed. Pre-professional education entails 60 credit hours completed at the college level from an approved program. Professional education--which typically lasts 32 months or four academic years--will culminate in the Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathy degree.


In addition to completion of educational requirements, aspiring licensed physicians must complete Steps 1, 2 and 3 of the USMLE exam or Part I, II and III of the NBOME exam. There are some potential combinations that may satisfy the requirements, too. A student may use FLEX test scores, for example, in conjunction with USMLE or NBOME scores in order to satisfy the examination criteria for licensure. One of three organizations which confirm examination results will verify the test scores.


There are requirements for postgraduate training that licensure applicants must also meet. In addition to successfully completing all schooling and testing requirements, licensure demands that an applicant must fulfill at least one year of training in a hospital environment. Aspiring physicians must do this as part of an accredited residency program. During this time, they gain hands-on experience practicing medicine and learning their specialty. 

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