This is the first time I’ve applied for a new job since having my medical license was suspended by the Oregon and California medical boards. Credentialing after medical license suspension is a huge pain in the ass and requires a lot of juggling.
Filling out the credentialing application was unnerving, to say the least. Unfortunately the eventual outcome was an unfavorable “ineligible for credentials”. Credentialing after a medical license suspension can be a nightmare so let’s go through it.
My Medical Board Investigation Timeline:
- May 2017 – inciting event which led to investigation
- June 2017 – my employer investigated the matter
- August 2017 – my employer reported me to the medical board
- October 2017 – subpoenaed by Oregon Medical Board
- October 2017 – got a lawyer
- January 2018 – first interview before gang of investigators
- April 2018 – hearing before medical board members
- July 2018 – stipulated order signed with Oregon
- August 2018 – served 30-day medical license suspension
- September 2018 – terminated by all telemedicine companies
- November 2018 – starting everything over with California Medical Board
- Eventual California license suspension
- Investigation by Washington Medical Commission
- The ABFM (ABMS) suspended me for 30 days??
- Medical Board Hearing in front of a judge in CA
- Public reprimand by California
- Public reprimand by WA + fines
- $500 fine by CA for “false advertising”
- much, much, more
I applied to this particular telemedicine company for whom I had worked in the past, American Well. It’s been a long time since I worked for them, so in order to restart I needed to get recredentialed.
I filled out the credentialing application and included all the relevant information regarding my medical board investigation. At the time of applying, I hadn’t yet been terminated from any positions. Though I later was, by Teladoc, Roman and Doctor on Demand.
On one page of the credentialing application alone I checked off yes to nearly 10 different questions:
- have you ever been investigated by a medical board? yes
- have you ever been investigated by an employer? yes
- have you ever resigned during an ongoing investigation? naturally
- do you have anything reported on you in any national database? proudly
- have you ever had a license suspension? yes
- have you ever lost any privileges? yeap
- have you been forced to pay a fine for any fault of your own? yes
- have you ever been found to be guilty of any dishonest conduct by a licensing or credentialing body? yeap
- have you ever been reprimanded by a medical board or licensing body? of course
- have you ever lost or had your board specialty designation suspended or terminated? yes
Felt like a criminal answering yes to all of these. But that’s the nature and purpose of an investigation and public reprimand – punitive and demeaning. It’s supposed to make credentialing after suspension much harder for a medical professional.
My first thought was “Shit, I wouldn’t even hire this guy!”
Credentialing committee response
The email response I got from the credentialing committee was quite professional. But I had no idea that Doctor on Demand had reported me to the National Practitioner Data Bank when terminating me.
The response above essentially says that I don’t meet the “eligibility criteria” because of my “privilege revocation by Doctor on Demand”. They listed the source as the NPDB.
It’s a tough situation for all parties. DoD is required to report any termination – no hard feelings there. But I was a per diem and didn’t need to be terminated.
But consider this, if I really was some kind of white coat criminal and DoD didn’t officially terminate me then they might catch a lot of heat. They are just protecting themselves, I get it. And I have since taken steps to protect myself.
The credentialing correspondent goes on to explain that the “eligibility standards” have been imposed upon this particular company by their “clients”.
Unfortunately, even this credentialing rejection is reportable to the National Practitioner Data Bank, separate from everything else I have to report already. American Well must now report this to the NPDB.
It’s like I can see the toilet water swirl with my medical career floating against the bowl.
These are shitty consequences for someone like myself. But it makes sense when you think about the different safety nets to catch criminal doctors. It doesn’t feel good to be one of them but, hey, at least it’s an elite club.
One of the toughest things I recognize is keeping track of all the shit that has taken place. Each of these events is reportable and needs to be explained on your credentialing application. Whatever you leave out whether intentionally or unintentionally is considered perjury.
National Practitioner Data Bank
Who the hell is the NPDB? I had never heard of them until I went to the Professional Boundaries Course in San Diego. The NPDB was all the talk there. Now, it’s November 2019 and NPDB report is 18 pages long – 18 fucking pages.
When we were all sharing our stories, someone would eventually ask cautiously and quietly: “was it reported to the NPDB?”. Say yes and heads would shake like you were done for. Now I know.
The NPDB is a government run agency which requires that physicians and other white coats be reported for any potentially damaging information about them.
In fact, just last month, the NPDB updated their reporting guidelines and it’s now even stricter.
Much like your credit report, you can request a self-query of the information included in your NPDB.
In order to verify you they will need access to your credit report. But since I have my credit reports frozen, they are unable to verify me online. I had to mail in a notarized letter to prove my identity.
Here is a good infographic for those of you interested in completing a self-query. If you’ve ever changed jobs or credentialed for new jobs, it’s a good idea to complete a self-query.
All sorts of events are now reportable under the new guidelines. You can review the lengthy guidebook on their website.
- leave of absence while under investigation
- withdrawal/resignation during a reappointment process
- resignation while under a “quality improvement plan”
- a broader definition of an “investigation”
- medical malpractice payment
- clinical privilege actions
- adverse professional society actions
- voluntary surrender of license
- peer review organization negative actions
- private accreditations negative actions
- exclusions from health care programs
- change in privilege with health plans related to fraud or competency
Credentialing after Medical License Suspension
Before you go slitting your wrists, remember that the National Practitioner Data Bank isn’t the final word when it comes to your career. There is still a lot that you can do for credentialing after a medical license suspension.
Yes, anything in the NPDB is likely going to be damaging.
Yes, it’ll make it more expensive and harder for you to get malpractice. Getting a job with a large medical group will be damn near impossible. You might lose insurance contracts or some insurers may refuse to credential you.
But there is always the street corner off of the freeway exit. Just kidding, panhandling is illegal. You can always open your own urgent care, or family medicine clinic, or pain medicine clinic, or start your own telemedicine company.
This kind of bullshit is expected in any profession, unfortunately. To capture the true criminals, there will always be a few unnecessary casualties. Get into wartime medicine mode and don’t give up.
You can also apply to smaller, private urgent cares and clinics. Ideally, start working for a friend or someone in your network. Having at least some employment history after your criminal acts will help improve your chances of future employment.
If I can make money without an active medical license then so can you. I earn a solid income doing healthcare consulting, selling products on my website, and consulting for other doctors who’ve gotten fucked by medical boards. Make it rain!
If you are freaking out, email me and let’s chat.
Finding Your First Job
I wrote this post back in November 2018. Now it’s November 2019 and I’m adding to this lovely post to let you know that it is possible to find work.
#1. Find a Recruiter
Recruiters are wonderful people. I know they can be annoying but they actually are all about building relationship and making connections.
Find a good one. Be honest. And let them hustle for you.
#2. Apply a Lot
Apply to a few jobs a week. No joke. And don’t give up. Keep applying.
Eventually you’ll ping someone who might be desperate enough or willing enough to work with you.
#3. Figure out Your Narrative
This is insanely important. I can’t even stress this enough. It’s too much to get into on this post. But you must know exactly what to say, how to describe it, and how to word it in your application.
You will need a lot of help with this. Be ready to shell out good money to have someone do this with you.
#4. Make Connections
Reach out to any doctor you know, even the ones from your past. Someone might be in a leadership role and be able to offer you a position.
#5. Reach out to Your Program Director
Your old residency program director will know all about these problems. Reach out to them and see what connections or suggestion they might have for you.
#6. Start Volunteering
You will meet great people volunteering. And you will make connections – you might find a lead.
Many healthcare volunteer organizations also hire physicians full-time or part-time. Maybe you can land a job through your volunteer gig.
#7. Start Your Own Practice
You need someone with whom you can strategize. Whether it’d be a lawyer or a doctor like myself who’s an OG in this game. Don’t go at it alone. Repeating someone else’s mistake is idiotic.
#9 Pull on the Thread
One connection begets another. Like an STD, your first employment or volunteer gig will lead to another and another. Once you have whored yourself out there enough, everyone will have forgotten about your past.
#10. Be Honest
Don’t waste your own time by trying to hide your medical board investigation or malpractice history. Lead with it. It’ll be unexpected and yet refreshing.
If you don’t address it and they find it out on your application or from your NPDB, it’ll look worse.