How to Get Licensed With the Hawaii Medical Board

The state that needs no introduction, Hawaii — the Paradise of the Pacific — is known for its 750 miles of beaches, exciting snorkeling adventures, and Hula dancing.

The Aloha State is also home to more than 1,834 physicians.

Will you make it 1,835?

Getting licensed with the Hawaii Medical Board (HMB) costs less than $600, could take a mere 45–60 days, and makes living in paradise a reality.

Read on to learn about Hawaii’s licensing process for future physicians.

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What You Need Before Applying

Applying for licensure with the Hawaii Medical Board isn’t too different from other states.

But do you meet all of Hawaii’s license requirements right now?

Here’s what you’ll need before submitting your application to the HMB:

Physician Requirements

Hawaii’s requirements for physicians depend on where you attended medical school: the U.S. and Canada or an outside country.

U.S. Applicants

As a U.S. or Canadian graduate, check that your diploma is from a school accredited with the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME).

You’ll also need a single year of postgraduate training through a program accredited with one of the following:

  • Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)
  • Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC)
  • College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC)

The last major requirement standing between you and your Hawaii medical license is passing the right licensing exam.

As of 2022, the Hawaii Medical Board accepts these tests:

First Pathway Applicants

You’ll qualify for the “First Pathway” if you’re a foreign grad who completed residency training in a program accredited with the ACGME, RCPSC, or CFPC.

In addition to your medical school diploma, you’ll need to:

You can also combine USMLE, FLEX, and NBME components (pre-2000) or pass the SPEX and a state exam as a First Pathway applicant.

Second Pathway Applicants

You’re eligible for the Second Pathway if you didn’t complete your medical education in the U.S. or Canada or meet the First Pathway’s requirements.

The guidelines for this track are much stricter, including:

  • A diploma from a foreign medical school
  • Three years of postgraduate training at a healthcare facility approved by the Council on Medical Education and Hospitals 
  • A passing score on the FLEX or USMLE (or a combination before 2000)

Hawaii also requires all Second Pathway applicants to pass the VISA Qualifying Examination of Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates before 1984.

Legal Residency

The Hawaii Medical Board doesn’t require U.S. citizenship to practice medicine within the state.

However, if you’re not a citizen, you must be a U.S. national or alien legally allowed to work in the United States to qualify for a permanent license.

Osteopathic Physician Requirements

DO applicants have just three prerequisites to meet:

Osteopathic Education Requirements

The HMB requires all applicants to graduate from an American Osteopathic Association(AOA)-approved school of osteopathy.

Postgraduate Training

DOs must also complete a one-year internship with an AOA or American College of Surgeons-approved hospital.

As an alternative, you can complete a year-long ACGME-accredited program instead.

Examinations

The Board offers some flexibility when it comes to licensing exams.

As long as you complete all required steps or levels, the HMB accepts:

There’s also a fifth option — combining portions of the USMLE and FLEX.

See also: USMLE, CBSE NBME, MCCQE, + More: Medical Licensing Exams Explained


How to Fill Out Your Application

Unfortunately, Hawaii does not have an online portal where you can complete the license application online.

However, the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs does have a PDF of the application that you can type directly into and later print.

Or, you can print it first and complete it by hand with dark ink.

Here’s everything you need to know about the application itself:

What’s on the Application?

First, comes the big question: what’s actually on the application?

The exact questions depend on whether you’re applying as a physician (MD) or an osteopathic surgeon or physician (DO).

But, generally, here’s what you’ll see on the form:

  • Identifying information (i.e., legal name, social security number, phone)
  • Basic questions, like whether you’re 18+ and a legal U.S. resident
  • 10+ yes/no questions — plus sub-questions — about your integrity as a medical professional, disciplinary actions, or past investigations
  • Details about your relevant education, licenses, hospitals, and postgraduate training
  • A certification of applicant promising that all answers are truthful
  • A Release of Information to Third Party if another person or organization is helping you with the application process

Double and triple-check your application to ensure all blue-tinted fields have a response before printing out the form.

Note: For any yes/no questions that you answer “yes” to, you’ll need to attach a written explanation to your application and request certified documents about disciplinary action be sent to the HMB.

Things to Remember

While much of the Hawaii application is self-explanatory, a few key details are easy to miss.

For example, in compliance with Hawaii and federal law, you must provide your social security number when you submit your application.

Forgetting to include this detail will make your form “deficient.”

There are also two fields at the top of each page of your application: “Print Name of Physician” and “Date.”

Be sure to fill in these blanks on all pages.

Related: How to Get Your Medical License


Sending in Additional/Supporting Documents

Modern health care. Closeup on female doctor writing in clipboard

If you’ve submitted your written application, the Medical Board’s already set an expiration date on your application: two years from now.

You have two years to complete your application for the Board’s review.

The Hawaii Medical Board divides the required supporting documents into three categories — those you have to:

Attach With Your Application

When you mail your license application to the Hawaii Board, you need to include these documents in the envelope:

Application Fee (Check)

The first and most important is a check made out to Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

The exact dollar amount also depends on whether you’re applying during an odd or even-numbered year.

Your license to practice is 100% dependent on this check clearing.

If the check bounces after receiving your license certificate, your license is not yet valid.

Proof of Education

Next is evidence that you finished your medical or osteopathic education.

That means attaching a copy of your osteopathic medical school diploma for DO applicants.

Meanwhile, MDs have three choices:

  • A copy of your medical school diploma
  • A copy of your medical school transcripts
  • A letter from the dean of your medical school verifying your education

Note: If you’re an MD applicant with documents in another language, you must submit translations either directly from your school or a translation service.

Evidence of Residency Training

The HMB then wants to confirm that you’ve completed the Aloha State’s postgraduate requirements at an accredited program.

Exactly how you do this depends on whether you’re a DO or MD applicant.

If you’re an MD (including First Pathway applicants), you’ll need a letter from your program director that includes the dates of your residency training.

Or a residency training certificate if you’re an osteopathic applicant.

Where to Mail These Documents

The Hawaii Medical Board’s mailing address is:

Hawaii Medical Board

DCCA, PVL Licensing Branch

P.O. Box 3469

Honolulu, HI 96801

Or, have your documents delivered to:

335 Merchant Street, Room 301

Honolulu, HI 96813

Original Source Documents and the HMB

This next part is where the application process becomes a bit hectic.

Like most medical boards, there are certain documents that Hawaii will only accept directly from the original source.

Yes, even if you have a copy hung on your wall or in your desk drawer.

So you’ll need to contact those organizations to submit these documents:

License Verification (If Applicable)

First, the HMB wants to know about all your previous licensures.

That includes licenses from other state medical boards, even those obtained during your residency or locum tenens assignments.

Don’t forget to request a license verification from each board.

Exam Scores

Next, you need to prove that you passed all required levels or steps for your licensing exams.

You generally have two options for requesting your official transcripts.

You can call the testing organization’s records office.

Or, you can request them digitally through the organization’s website.

Either way, make sure it’s an official transcript sent directly to the HMB.

Here’s the contact information and web address for each accepted exam:

If you passed a state exam (in addition to SPEX), you’d need to contact that state to forward your scores to the Hawaii Board.

Special Considerations for Foreign Medical Graduates

Foreign medical grads must submit a few extra files before they can practice in the State of Hawaii.

If you have an ECFMG certificate, you can request a status report on the ECFMG website or call them at (215) 386-5900.

Fifth Pathway applicants will follow a similar process.

You have the option to phone the office at (312) 464-5199 or submit a request on the AMA website.

For MD Applicants Only

Even if you’re not a current member of the AMA, the HMB expects all MD applicants to create and forward an AMA profile to the Board.

You’ll also need to print out and partially complete two forms from Hawaii’s Professional and Vocational Licensing Division website.

The first is only for applicants who’ve passed the NBME, MCCQE, and MCCEE — the federation discipline report form.

Fill out the top portion of the PDF (by typing into the blue boxes) and email it to the FSMB at [email protected].

Note: If you took the SPEX, FLEX, or USMLE instead, the FSMB will submit your disciplinary report along with your requested exam transcripts.

The second and final print-out form is the Hospital Form.

Complete the top section, and send a copy to each hospital you’ve practiced at within the last three years — including during your residency program.

For DO Applicants Only

The first “extra” requirement for DOs is ordering an AOA Physician Profile.

You’ll also need to print out two copies of Hawaii’s Certificate of Competency Form and fill out the top part (above the dotted line).

Then, forward the forms to two osteopathic or allopathic physicians who can vouch for your professionalism and competency in the field.

They’ll submit the form to the HMB directly.

Email or Mail to the HMB

The final piece of the puzzle is your NPDB Self-Query Response.

The licensing department accepts this proof in two forms: a hard copy attached to your application or a PDF emailed to [email protected].

The HMB will only accept a digital version if it’s attached to the initial email from the NPDB.

You may also like: 10 Best States to Practice Medicine


How Long Does it Take to Get Your Hawaii Medical License?

Surfer

It takes 45–60 days to get your Hawaii medical license from the date the HMB receives your application and all required forms.

However, there could be delays if the Board requests additional information.

The Board also allows you a two-year time limit to complete your application before considering it “abandoned.”

You can check the status of your application here.

Want to check requirements for getting your medical license in other states? Check out our guides for:

Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Georgia | Indiana | New Mexico | North Carolina | Ohio | Oregon | Texas


How Much Does it Cost to Get Your Hawaii Medical License?

It costs about $400–$600 to get your Hawaii medical license.

Yet, that depends on whether you’re applying as an MD or DO, which licensing exams you’ve completed, and when you submit your application.

Type of Fee Cost
Licensing Fee* MD: $221 or $392

DO: $384 or $510

AOA Profile (DO) $25 for non-members
NPDB Self-Query Report $3.00
Exam Transcripts  $50+

* The licensing fees differ for applications submitted in odd and even-numbered years based on the time remaining until license renewal.


Conclusion

Now that you understand the licensing process, you’re ready to begin your application and collect your supporting documents.

A word to the wise: request your proof before you begin the application and, ideally, as soon as possible.

That way, the Hawaii Medical Board has all your files, and all that’s left to do is stuff the rest in an envelope to send to Honolulu.

For more information about applying for a medical license in Hawaii, visit www.cca.hawaii.gov/pvl.

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