After a decade of commitment, passion, and a drive to learn, what better place to launch your blossoming medical career than in Alabama?
Known for its Southern hospitality and vacation-worthy Gulf Coast beaches, Alabama is now a de-facto physician hub.
Its homegrown doctors enjoy the nation’s sixth-highest wages, the tenth-lowest malpractice liability insurance rates, and modest competition.
Here’s the best part:
Applying for your Alabama medical license requires far fewer steps (and much less hassle) than in other states.
Follow this guide, and you’ll learn how to get licensed with the Alabama Medical Board in 6-8 weeks for just $375.
What You’ll Need Before Applying
Assuming you didn’t take shortcuts along your aspiring doctor journey, you’re almost guaranteed to have the Alabama requirements squared away already!
But just to double-check, here are the non-negotiables:
The Alabama Board of Medical Examiners and Medical Licensure Commission has strict education requirements.
Is your school not in either directory?
Then, contact the Board and learn which path to take:
- Supply extra documents. Some foreign schools, particularly those in the Dominican Republic and Mexico, require additional proof.
- Seek Board approval. With an ECFMG and a previously listed WHO or IMED school, the Board may overlook non-accreditation.
The Board also refuses applicants from four international schools, which you can find on the license instructions under “Medical Education Requirements.”
The Alabama Board requires only one year (12 months) of postgraduate training, assuming you attended an accredited school.
If you’re a U.S. applicant, verify that your residency program was:
- AOA-accredited (American Osteopathic Association)
- AMA-accredited (American Medical Association)
- CFPC-accredited (College of Family Physicians of Canada)
- CRCPSC-accredited (Committee of Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada)
If your medical school didn’t have the proper accreditation, you’d need an additional two years in a postgraduate program (three years total).
Note: Foreign applicants need a valid ECFMG (Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates) certificate, too!
Those long nights cramming in college to ace your USMLE or COMLEX steps certainly didn’t go to waste, at least not in the ALBME’s eyes!
As you may already know, your exam choice depends on whether you’re pursuing the traditional medical or osteopathy route.
As of 2021, the Board only accepts the following exams:
- NBME (National Board of Medical Examiners)
- NBOME – COMLEX (National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners)
- USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination)
A word to USMLE-takers: You need a 75% on steps 1-3 within ten total attempts and seven years.
The final requirement — and perhaps biggest deal-breaker for the ALBME — is proving that you’re a legal U.S. resident (resident, not citizen).
That includes the following:
- U.S. citizens
- Qualified aliens
- Aliens parole into the U.S.
- Aliens granted conditional entry
- Cuban or Haitian entrants
Filling Out the Application
The ALBME license application process can seem a little tedious (it feels like you’re applying over and over again!).
But, there certainly is a “right” method:
Fill Out the FSMB’s Uniform Application (UA)
As its name implies, the UA won’t ask about any Alabama requirements explicitly; the details are more generic, like:
- Home address
- Training programs attended
- Current or past licenses
- Activities during and post-medical school
- Clinical experience
- Malpractice suits (if applicable)
This completely digital, one-sitting app is an option for other state medical boards, too.
Wait to Receive Your COQ (Certificate of Qualification)
After the Board receives your Uniform Application, you’ll discover an email in your inbox about some “certificate of qualification” or COQ.
Not to worry, this simply means the ALBME is weighing your expertise and debating your future as a physician.
Your application will stay in “pending” status until the Board receives all supporting docs (which we’ll discuss in the next section).
You’ll then be the topic of discussion at an upcoming Board meeting.
Note: Check your application status here. The Board allows just six months between this step and the next, so don’t wait until the last minute!
Apply for Your Alabama Medical License
Once the Board determines you tick all the boxes, they’ll approve your COQ and guide you to the license application itself (confusing, right?).
The Alabama app is more or less a rehash of the UA from earlier.
However, it’s more centered around your contact information, like:
- Full name
- Phone number, address, and email
- Practice type and address
- Which license you’re applying for (be careful, this one is easy to miss)
Don’t forget to slip a $75 check in the envelope made out to “Medical Licensure Commission of Alabama.”
Or, pay online!
Now is also as good a time as any to apply for your Alabama Controlled Substance Certificate, if necessary.
Wait for Official License Approval
As if waiting for the Board to approve your COQ wasn’t nerve-wracking enough, you’ll also have to go through the Commission’s tough vetting process at their next meeting (for license approvals, specifically).
Then, you wait!
Once the Board receives the app and — more importantly — payment, they’ll issue your official license number.
Submitting Your Supporting Documents & Proof
That 3.75 GPA, Ivy League education, and years of residency (well beyond Alabama’s requirement) should speak for themselves.
But the ALBME isn’t taking any risks (a sign of high expectations).
Here’s a walkthrough of the forms and supporting documents you’ll have to submit at some point along the way:
A Look at the Required Forms
To yank the hassle out of sending documents to the Board later in your application process (and risking snail mail slowdowns or lost envelopes), you’ll complete these five forms during the UA:
- Application to Review Alabama Criminal History Record Information: Asks for personal and work details and an affidavit for release. Don’t forget to sign in front of two witnesses (or notarize the form), attach a color photo, and include your fingerprint cards.
- Declaration of Citizenship and Lawful Presence of an Alien: Include a document from list A (ex: birth certificate, driver’s license) if you’re a citizen, or one from list B (ex: I-551, I-94) if you’re an alien.
- Medical School Certification: Send this to your medical school for your dean or president to complete on your behalf. Transcripts are not accepted.
- Postgraduate Education Certificate: Similar to the med school proof, your program director will fulfill this requirement for you.
- License Application Form: If you’re unsure whether you’ll receive a rejection or approval letter, you can wait on this form until after the Board green lights your COQ.
Fortunately, these forms are PDF files.
So, if your handwriting is more like chicken scratch or you’re concerned about typos, you can type your information into the fields instead of writing it!
The Necessary Supporting Documents
At some point in this arduous process, you’ll also have to upload proof through either the Alabama licensee portal or the FSMB (during the UA).
It’s a good idea to gather these files before starting your app:
- Proof of citizenship from list A or B, depending on your circumstances
- Exam proof requested from the organization and sent to the Board
- An ECFMG status report sent directly to the Board
- A color photo snapped within the last 60 days
Double-check that you’re the one responsible for supplying each document, not your institution (as is the case with medical school and training proof).
Also, even if you have a USMLE transcript or your ECFMG status report printed out on your desk, the Board must receive it directly from the organizations!
In other words, there are no shortcuts.
How to Complete the Background Check Piece
On top of filling out your Criminal History Release Form, the ALBME also requires applicants to undergo fingerprinting and a formal background check.
Luckily, it’s not as daunting a task as it sounds.
- Start with an email to [email protected] to request a fingerprint card.
- Be sure to add the following details before scheduling an appointment:
- ALC 34-24-70 in the “reason fingerprinted” section
- AL920049Z where it reads “ORI number”
- Then, pay a visit to your local law enforcement agency (no need to schedule an appointment at an IdentoGo facility!).
- Don’t forget to attach these to your release form when you seal the envelope.
What Happens If You Have a Record? Or a Past Addiction?
The ALBME reviews all applications and criminal records on a case-by-case basis, meaning there are very few automatic rejections.
However, the Board does stand firm on certain issues.
For example, if you’ve been treated for alcohol addiction, chemical dependence, or mental illness in the recent past (within the last two years), prepare for an Alabama Professional’s Health Program (APHP) referral for evaluation.
Your COQ will be on a temporary hold until you’re cleared.
From the criminal record perspective, the Board’s ultimate approval depends on the type of felony and how long ago it happened.
A word to the wise: The more truthful you are on these applications, even if your record isn’t clean, the better!
Where to Send This Information
This is where things can get a little complicated because you can mail some documents, upload others, and forward a few via email.
Your medical school dean and postgraduate training director can email proof of the forms to [email protected].
For any mailed documentation, address envelopes to:
Alabama Board of Medical Examiners
P.O Box 946
A Few Other Things to Note
Once you have your license in hand and finally lift your practice off the ground, your relationship with the ALBME will always be fresh.
That’s because licenses expire at the end of each year (December 31).
Just like physician assistants, you’ll need to prove that you’ve completed 25 CME hours (AMA PRA Category 1 Credits) within every calendar year.
How Long Does It Take to Get Licensed by the ALBME?
The Alabama Medical Board is relatively lenient with application deadlines, allowing you up to six months post-COQ approval to both apply and pay for your license!
Otherwise, you’ll have to start from scratch.
It should take no more than 2-3 months to process your application and snag your wall certificate and wallet card.
However, that depends on:
- How many applicants you’re competing with (first come, first serve)
- When the Board receives your final supporting document
- Whether your record is dicey (malpractice suits, criminal records)
- If the ALBME requests more information or paperwork
How Much Does it Cost?
The ALBME guidelines can be slightly confusing if you’re hot off a residency and applying for your first-ever medical license.
Payment-wise, there are no unanswered questions; expect to pay:
- $60 Universal Application (UA) fee
- $175 Board application fee
- $65 background check
- $75 license fee (paid after receiving your COQ approval)
- $150 Alabama Controlled Substances Certificate (optional if you’re in a specialty known for prescribing medications)
By the time that wall certificate lands in your mailbox, your bank account will be about $375 to $525 lighter.
With your Alabama medical license in the mix, you’re ready to set up your practice and begin accepting patients — a lifelong dream of yours.
But, what if other states are still tugging at your heartstrings?
You’re in luck!
Alabama is a participating state in the IMLC (Interstate Medical Licensure Compact), a 28-state partnership that fast-tracks multi-state licenses for aspiring physicians.
If you live near the Mississippi or Tennessee borders, you can split your practice between Alabama and another state.
Visit www.albme.org for more information about getting licensed with the Alabama Medical Board!
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