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OPPAGA text logo with graphic of FL historic capitol

Review of the Licensing and Disciplinary Practices of the Board of Medicine

Report 95-14, December 1995

Report Summary

  • There are approximately 37,500 active licensed physicians in Florida. Sixty-six percent of these doctors are domestic-trained, and 34% are foreign-trained. Requirements for licensure differ for domestic-trained and foreign-trained physicians. Foreign-trained graduates, both nationwide and in Florida, have a higher failure rate on the licensure examination than domestic-trained graduates. The differences in passing rates may be influenced by several factors, including the length of time since graduation from medical school; variations in the quality and scope of education in foreign medical schools; and language difficulties.
  • Approximately 12,000 physicians, or 34% of all active licensed physicians in Florida, are foreign-trained and have obtained licensure through the regular certification and examination process for foreign graduates. We conclude that current licensing provisions do not appear to be inhibiting qualified graduates from obtaining licensure.
  • To assist foreign-trained physicians in obtaining licensure, the Legislature and the Board of Medicine may wish to consider the following options, which meet nationally accepted standards:
  • Initiate fee-based voluntary preparatory courses at Florida medical schools for ECFMG certification and for USMLE Step 3 (state licensing); and
  • Set aside a number of residency slots to accommodate foreign-trained physicians who have been out of school for a period of time but who have been unable to practice.
  • We also reviewed the Board's disciplinary process. During 1994, 3,054 physicians had complaints against them resolved: complaints against 2,855 physicians were dismissed and complaints against 199 physicians were decided by final order. The Board took action against less than 1% of all foreign-trained and less than 1% of all domestic-trained active licensed physicians in Florida. All sanctions were within the statutory guidelines.
  • There was a small difference in the administration of some sanctions. Foreign-trained physicians received suspensions more frequently than domestic-trained physicians, and domestic-trained physicians received probation more frequently. However, 80% of these sanctions were administered through consent agreements approved by the physician. All other sanctions were applied similarly. Based on these facts, we do not detect any compelling indicators of differential treatment between foreign-trained and domestic-trained physicians by the Board of Medicine.

Related Reports
  1. Follow-Up Report on the Legal Issues Concerning Florida Board of Medicine Disciplinary Practices
    Report 98-11 August 1998
  2. Follow-Up Review of the Licensing and Disciplinary Practices of the Board of Medicine
    Report 97-72 April 1998
Copies of this report in print or alternate accessible format may be obtained by email OPPAGA@oppaga.fl.gov, telephone (850) 488-0021, or mail 111 W. Madison St., Room 312 Tallahassee, FL 32399-1475.
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