Permanent License: This license is usually good for one to two years. It allows you to work in the state at any hospital or facility. Depending on the state, permanent licenses take between two months to over a year to obtain.
Temporary License: Not all states have temporary licenses. A temporary license is usually issued once a permanent application has been submitted and something, for example the FCVS, has not been received by the Board. As long as there is no derogatory information to be reviewed, the board will issue a temporary license allowing you to start working sooner. Temporary licenses are usually only good for a short time or until the permanent license is issued.
Locum Tenens: Like the temporary license, not all states issue a locum tenens license. A locum tenens license is usually issued to a doctor who will only be doing locum tenens assignments and does not live in the state where the license is issued. Most locum tenens , licenses are only good for a few days a year. Generally, once you have received a locum tenens license in a state, you will have to obtain a permanent license to work in that state again. The state of Oregon is the only state with an exception to this rule. They issue permanent licenses only to doctors who live in the state. If a doctor works in Oregon, but lives in another state, the only type of license they can obtain is a locum tenens license.
Here are a few additional state-specific quirks:
In the state of Maine you can obtain an emergency license within a couple of days in the case of a true emergency. However, there are stipulations and the client will need to provide a letter of need. This emergency license is effective for last-minute coverage due to an illness or emergency leave and remains in effect for 90 days. This could be expensive in the long run if you do not go back to Maine to work because in order to obtain the emergency license you have to get a permanent license. There is also a temporary license in Maine that takes 4-6 weeks to obtain. The temporary license is good for six months and can be extended one time only for an additional six months. A permanent license is not required when obtaining a temporary license.
Wyoming will issue a temporary license once all documents are verified. However, each and every doctor HAS to appear at their quarterly board meeting.
New Hampshire has a locum tenens license that you can obtain in about a month. This license is only good for 100 consecutive days in any 12-month period. You won’t be eligible for another locum tenens until one year from the date the last license became effective. A permanent license is available, but it takes over a year to get and the board requires the FCVS, which is very time consuming.
Arizona has a locum tenens license. It is valid for only 180 days within the six-month issue period and the license is site-specific. Only ONE permit is allowed in any three-year period.
One more note: Many state licensing boards are now requiring an FBI background check. Physicians have to go to a local police department to be fingerprinted. The board then sends the prints to the FBI for a background check.