Your Guide to Kentucky Medical Licensing

Kentucky is known as the horse racing capital of the world, set against a backdrop of catchy country tunes and clinking bourbon glasses.

But what many people don’t realize is that The Bluegrass State has a serious lack of doctors. With only 10,319 physicians practicing there, Kentucky holds the #36 spot for physicians per 100,000 residents.

That’s why aspiring physicians are racing to Kentucky to set up practices!

And doing so is easier than ever.

Here’s your full guide to Kentucky medical licensing.


Kentucky Medical License Requirements

The U.S. is home to 71 state osteopathic and medical boards, each with its own requirements

The Commonwealth of Kentucky is no different.

Before you invest $300 into the non-refundable application fee, verify that you first meet Kentucky’s minimum requirements:

  1. Medical school diploma
  2. Postgraduate training
  3. A few other prerequisites

Here’s more information about these requirements:

Medical School

The Kentucky Board of Medical Licensing (KBML) has unique medical school requirements for U.S./Canadian and foreign graduates.

For Medical Schools in the U.S. or Canada

Kentucky accepts diplomas from medical schools approved by the LCME (Liaison Committee on Medical Education) and CMA (Canadian Medical Association).

For Foreign Graduates

The state has far stricter education requirements for those studying abroad.

The licensing board generally accepts any foreign medical school listed on the World Directory of Medical Schools (formerly hosted by the World Health Organization).

However, the KBML reserves the right to approve or deny foreign medical education on an individual basis.

Postgraduate Training

Before you can legally practice in Kentucky, the Board also requires at least two years of postgraduate training in a program approved by one of the following:

Note: Any discipline, leaves of absence, or probationary periods during your postgraduate training will also be under heavy scrutiny by the board.

Passed Exams

Kentucky currently accepts the following exams for medical license applicants:

  • COMLEX (Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination): Levels 1–3
  • FLEX (Federation Licensing Examination): With a 75% or higher average on both components
  • NBME (National Board of Medical Examiners): Parts 1–3
  • NBOME (National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners): Parts 1–3
  • State Board: Pre-1972
  • USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination): Steps 1–3

While the State of Kentucky doesn’t require the SPEX exam, the Board may require a clinical competency exam if you’re returning to medicine after a two-year gap.

Otherwise, your examination days are long behind you.

Also: There’s a four-attempt limit on testing, which means you must pass all steps within four attempts to get your medical license in Kentucky.

Other Prerequisites (If Applicable)

The three requirements laid out above will apply to the majority of aspiring Kentucky physicians.

But there are some other things you may need, depending on your situation:

  • A permanent ECFMG certificate (if you’re a foreign applicant)
  • The ability to write, read, and speak English fluently
  • To be in good standing in other states where you’re licensed

If you meet all of the requirements in this section, you’re officially ready to start your application in the online portal.


How to Apply for a Kentucky Medical License

Hands typing on laptop

With each of Kentucky’s prerequisites accounted for, the next step is completing the medical license application.

This process requires two digital steps:

Create an FCVS Profile

As of 2021, nearly every medical board in the country either accepts or requires FCVS — the Federation Credentials Verification Service.

This FSMB (Federation of State Medical Boards) service allows physician applicants to upload and store their credentials in an online portfolio.

FCVS is a popular choice and mandatory in Kentucky for two reasons:

1. Time

Most medical and osteopathic boards ask you to submit the same credentialing documents (postgraduate verification, photo identification, and a copy of your degree).

Instead of mailing or uploading the same documents for each board, you can select several as “recipients” and simply forward the files.

2. Convenience

Some postgraduate programs no longer exist.

Others will close their doors in the future without much warning, which can complicate postgrad verification if you decide Kentucky isn’t for you.

Or, if you’re a foreign applicant, requesting transcripts from your medical school often involves translation and an endless game of phone tag.

With FCVS, you only need to request these documents once.

Having digital and verified versions of these credentials ready to send will prepare you for the unexpected as your physician career brings you from one state to the next.

What’s Included in the FCVS?

While setting up your FCVS portfolio (or “packet”), you’ll upload documents that verify your credentials, including your:

  • Identity (contact information, photo ID, birth certificate, marriage certificate, or divorce decree)
  • Medical education (an 8 ½” x 11 photocopy of your diploma)
  • Postgraduate training (including residencies and fellowships)
  • Exam history (USMLE, FLEX, NBME, NBOME)
  • ECFMG Certification Status Report (for foreign applicants)
  • Past medical licenses
  • Previous disciplinary or board actions
  • Any ABMS specialties to your name

The FSMB will store these records permanently, simplifying the licensure process if you decide to relocate or hold dual licensure in several states.

Note: Don’t forget to select the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensing as the recipient before submitting the packet.

How to Submit Documents to the FSMB

The FCVS supports digital uploads for most required documents, though it requires others to be printed and notarized before sending it through the mail.

Address all mailed documents to:

Federation Credentials Verification Service

Federation of State Medical Boards

400 Fuller Wiser Road

Suite 300

Euless, TX 76039

After verifying the authenticity of your credentials, the FCVS will forward the documents to the Kentucky Board, a process that could take up to 40 days.

Complete Kentucky’s Online Application on KY.gov

While you’re waiting for the FCVS to process your packet, it’s time to get a headstart on Kentucky’s license application.

That means a visit to Kentucky’s online application portal.

The application process begins with a profile section that includes your demographic information.

From there, you’ll tap “Click Here To Apply For License.”

Special Issues

During your electronic application, you’ll come across questions labeled either “category I” or “category II.”

These yes/no questions will help the Board gauge whether you’re a qualified candidate by Kentucky’s standards.

Topics covered in these questions include:

  • Disciplinary action, license suspensions, or limited privileges
  • Forced removal or expulsion from previous medical facilities
  • Felonies or misdemeanors (either pending or convicted)
  • Malpractice settlements within the last decade
  • Conditions that may impact your ability to provide healthcare
  • Previous or current substance abuse (including failed drug tests)

If you answer “yes” to any of the questions, the Board will request a typewritten and signed explanation as well as legal documents for proof.

For example, you might provide a copy of the settlement agreement from a malpractice suit.

Add as much detail as possible, including relevant names, dates, and locations.

This is your one chance to convince the Board that, despite your record, you’re still fit to practice medicine.

Paying for Your Application

The final step is paying the non-refundable $300 fee via debit or credit card.

After the Board receives your application, you can finally check on the status of your license to learn which documents you still need to submit.


Supporting Documents and Proof

Along with an FCVS profile and the official online application, the KBML requires a few additional forms.

The state has since digitized these forms and converted them into editable PDFs (although you can still print it, fill it out by hand, and mail it in if you prefer).

Let’s take a closer look at the forms you’re expected to complete.

Application Appendix (Page 6)

The Application Appendix looks like a mini-application.

It asks for your name, the names and attendance dates of your medical schools, and any medical licenses you’ve held in the U.S. or Canada.

About a third of the way down, there’s a field titled “Original (Full Unrestricted) Licensing State.”

If this will be your first medical license, write “NONE” in this box.

Affidavit & Release (Page 7)

The Affidavit & Release form asks you to verify that all information in your application is accurate to your knowledge.

It also authorizes the release of your documents to the Board.

Don’t forget to tape or glue a 2”x2” color passport-style photo to the box before scheduling an appointment with a notary public.

Sign this document in front of a notary before mailing it to the Board.

Licensure Verification (Page 9)

If you’ve held medical licenses in other states, visit the official websites for each to learn how to send proof to Kentucky.

Some states will accept Kentucky’s paper request and forward the verification to the Board on your behalf.

Hospital Affiliation List (Page 10)

The Hospital, Clinic, Facility Affiliation List is where you’ll detail the last five years of your medical practice (if applicable).

Be sure to list and describe any medical work you’ve done:

Make sure you sign the bottom of the sheet with a pen before sealing the envelope — it’s easy to miss.

CME Form (Page 11)

Kentucky requires its physicians to earn 60 continuing medical education (CME) credits every three years, 30 of which must be AMA Category I.

The CME form is where you’ll list any credits you’ve earned within the last three years (or attach a print-out listing your CME).

If you’re still in your residency program, simply write “In Training” instead.

Sign and date the form before sending it off to the Board.

NPDB & HIPDB Self-Query Report

The NPDB Self-Query Report comes standard with an FCVS profile.

This $3 service compares your responses to the database, uncovering any instances of disciplinary action, malpractice payments, or convictions.

Background Check and Fingerprinting

In late 2020, the Kentucky Medical Board adjusted its background check guidelines to require pre-scheduled fingerprinting appointments.

To register for an appointment:

  1. Visit the IdentoGO website.
  2. Enter the service code 27GJVJ into the search bar.
  3. Pay the $51.25 fingerprinting and background check fee.
  4. Bring a photo ID to your appointment.

Keep in mind that the KBML cannot share your background screening results with anyone else — including you — under Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS).

You can check on the status of your fingerprint card and background check on your KBML profile.

Where to Mail Completed Forms

The Kentucky Medical Board accepts most forms via snail mail.

You can send documents directly to the Board at:

Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure

310 Whittington Parkway

Suite 1B

Louisville, KY 40222


How Much Does a Kentucky Medical License Cost?

A physician license from the Kentucky Medical Board costs about $729.25, not including postage to mail your documents.

Kentucky’s initial licensure fees include:

  • License Application Fee: $300
  • FBI, Kentucky Background Check, and Fingerprinting Fees: $51.25
  • FCVS Profile: $375
  • NPDB Self-Query Report: $3

Maintaining your Kentucky license costs money, too.

For one, the Kentucky Board requires annual license renewals at $150.

The Board also mandates 60 CME hours every three-year cycle, racking up $400–$1,000 per year in continuing education credits.


How Long Does It Take to Get a Kentucky Medical License?

Two doctors walking down hallway in hospital

Kentucky’s medical licensure process lasts about 6–8 weeks.

Yet, this timeline could extend further with disciplinary action on your record (30–60 days) and after initial FCVS packet processing (up to 40 days).

Unlike other state medical boards, the KBML requires all applicants to receive Board approval at one of its quarterly meetings.

Meetings are held every year in the following month≈s:

  • March
  • June
  • September
  • December

The deadline for submission is usually 3-4 weeks before the meeting, so state updated with the Meeting Dates page on their website to ensure you turn your application in on time.

Our advice is to submit your application and documents ASAP and begin gathering the paperwork before completing postgraduate training.

Getting your license in any state takes a lot of work. Learn how to protect your investment in our Disability Insurance Guide.

Conclusion

Still not set on a Kentucky state medical license?

Fortunately, Kentucky is one of the 29 states participating in the IMLCC (Interstate Medical Licensure Compact).

If you’re licensed in another participating state or plan to expand your practice past Kentucky’s borders, the compact allows you to do that.

Now, you can split your practice between Kentucky and other neighboring states, like Tennessee, West Virginia, and Illinois!

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