California Medical License

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Ann Dohn, MA

Director, Graduate Medical Education
Designated Institutional Official (DIO), ACGME
Training Program Liaison, ECFMG
Special Programs Coordinator, Medical Board of California
Institutional Official, NRMP 

650-723-5948 (office)

Marcy Kulakow, BA


650-723-5948 (office)


  • There is no training or temporary license in California.
  • Years of residency refers to actual years of training rather than PGY.
  • Trainees entering non-ACGME programs must possess a valid CA Medical License before starting training. There is no period of "grace" to obtain a CA MD License.
  • Please allow at least 6 months to obtain a Postgraduate Training Authorization Letter or a CA MD License. The application process can not be expedited.
  • Visiting residents from outside California may participate in ACMGE residencies as "visitors" for up to 90 days without a CA MD License.
  • Trainees leaving after their intern year will not receive reimbursement.

U.S./Canadian Medical School Graduates

California requires that graduates of United States medical schools pass USMLE I, II, and III and complete one year of ACGME residency training that meets the general medicine requirements. U.S. graduates must be licensed by the first day of their third year of ACGME training.

Canadian medical school graduates are treated the same as U.S. graduates and must be licensed by the first day of their third year of ACGME training. However, it is not necessary to take the USMLE examinations. Canadian licensing examinations are recognized in California. Therefore, graduates of Canadian medical schools that have completed the Canadian license examinations and one year of ACGME residency are eligible to obtain a CA MD License. Canadians do not need an ECFMG certificate.

Medical Board of California Forms and Links:

International Medical School Graduates (IMGs)

Graduates of international medical schools must possess a valid ECFMG certificate, pass USMLE III, and complete two years of ACGME residency. They must be licensed by the first day of their fourth year of residency.

IMGs seeking ACGME training at levels prior to their 4th year must provide a valid Postgraduate Training Authorization Letter from the Medical Board of California. IMGs must hold a valid ECFMG certificate to qualify for the Authorization Training Letter and a CA MD License.

Applying for Initial Licensure

All Forms

Maintaining Licensure: Continuing Medical Education Requirement

Please check here for full description of requirements. 

In summary:

  1. All licensees, regardless of status as a resident or a "real" doctor in the "real" world, must complete at least 50 hours of approved CME during each biennial (2-year) renewal cycle. They do not provide proof at renewal, they just sign the statement. But if audited later, they have to provide the paperwork for verification. The Board conducts random audits throughout the year.

  2. Residents and fellows are allowed six hours of Category 1 credit for each month of residency or fellowship, with a maximum of 72 hours each year. (So, in reality, a resident who does one year of training meets the whole 50 hour/2 year requirement)

  3. For general internists and family physicians who have 25% of their patients aged 65 or old ... they must complete at least 20% of the required CME in geriatric medicine or the care of the elderly. And don't forget about the Pain Management and End of Life Care (PM/ELC) requirements --- also CME, but separate from the above requirements. The legislation that enacted this mandate was specific - the PM/ELC hours must be a separate class specific to those topics. PG training does not count towards this requirement.

  4. PM/ELC CME is required of all licensees, regardless of status as a resident or a "real" doctor in the "real" world, and is required within the time frames listed below:
    Physicians with an active license before January 1, 2002, will have until December 31, 2006, to obtain the 12 hours. 
    Physicians licensed on or after January 1, 2002, must complete the 12 hours by their second license renewal date or within four years, whichever comes first. 
    The 12 hours can be all in one subject, or split 11/1, 10/2, 9/3, etc. 
    Radiologist and pathologists are exempt 
    The 12 hours for PM/ELC can be used towards the total 50 hours/2 year requirement.

Reporting Misdemeanors and Felonies to Licensing Board

The reporting requirement is pursuant to Business and Professions Code (B&P) Section 802.1 which states:

802.1. (a) (1) A physician and surgeon, osteopathic physician and surgeon, and a doctor of podiatric medicineshall report either of the following to the entity that issued his or her license: (A) The bringing of an indictment or information charging a felony against the licensee. (B) The conviction of the licensee, including any verdict of guilty, or plea of guilty or no contest, of any felony or misdemeanor. (2) The report required by this subdivision shall be made in writing within 30 days of the date of the bringing of the indictment or information or of the conviction. (b) Failure to make a report required by this section shall be a public offense punishable by a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000).

Please use the following reporting form from the Medical Board of California: