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Feb 26 2019

From ineligible for licensure to Madam President

 Categories:  President’s Message Comments:   3 comments  Print Friendly Version  |   Share this item
Image for From ineligible for licensure to Madam President In November, I had the honor of being sworn in as the 120th President of the North Carolina Medical Board. As I vowed to lead this body to the best of my abilities, I could not help but reflect on a time more than 25 years ago when the institution I now preside over informed me that my osteopathic medical credentials were insufficient to qualify for a North Carolina license. I have related the story of how I won licensure in NC many times, and it is best told on the house-top deck of my home in Kure Beach with the beverage of your choice, but I thought it fitting to formally introduce myself as NCMB President by sharing it here.

I first came to NC to complete a residency in family medicine. I was active duty military at the time, stationed at Ft. Bragg, and had already qualified for licensure in California in 1985, based on my National Board of Osteopathic Examiners licensing boards. As is still the case today, a NC medical license was not required to practice on base. But my husband and I decided North Carolina was a good place to put down roots, which led me to apply to NCMB in 1990. Soon after, I received word that my application was not complete (specifically because I had taken the NBOE in 1985 and the Board only accepted scores issued after 1990) and directing me to take the FLEX exam to be considered. That struck me as unreasonable, not to mention expensive, so I contacted the Board for the opportunity to defend my credentials.

I’ll spare you the details, except to say that the road to a NC medical license was fraught with delays, not the least of which was my deployment to Iraq to serve in Desert Shield. The Board of that time made little effort to accommodate me even as I tried to coordinate an appearance before NCMB around a trip stateside to complete my American Board of Osteopathic Family Medicine boards, in the midst of my deployment to Saudi Arabia.

I finally received my North Carolina license in 1991, based on successful completion of my MD boards – an “exception” granted by the Board. As I left NCMB’s offices in Raleigh, I thought, “OK, gentlemen (and it was all men) now I am one of you and I can fight you from the inside!” I lost no time advising every DO I knew who had MD boards to appeal to NCMB for their licenses by reciprocity. Less than a year later NCMB amended its rules to allow licensure by reciprocity based on ABMS board certification or re-certification within the prior 5 years. I like to think I helped drive change in an organization that, at the time, seemed rigid and outdated.

I tell this tale not out of bitterness but with a true sense of wonder at how very far NCMB has come, both with regard to osteopathic medicine and as a regulator. The osteopathic community in NC has grown and we now have an osteopathic medical school at Campbell University. One of my first official duties as the first female osteopathic physician to serve as NCMB President was to swear in the newest Board Member – Dr. Christine Khandelwal – who is also a DO. Her appointment marks another milestone – for the first time in NCMB history there are two osteopathic physicians on the Board.

The founder of osteopathic medicine, Andrew Taylor Still, MD, DO, said, “It is the physician’s responsibility to find health in the patient. Anyone can find disease.” These are wise words, especially today when there are so many challenges in the medical profession and it is so easy to focus on the problems. I believe when we “seek the health” – in our patients, in the profession, and in ourselves – we find the fortitude to address the challenges as well.

Here is what I have found in approaching six years of service with NCMB: the modern medical Board is diverse in every sense of the word (race, sex, specialty area of practice, NC region) and willing to listen, learn and question the status quo in the pursuit of better regulation. I am grateful for the opportunity to lead.

 Comments on this article:

Excellent take on what persistence can achieve.  As an International Medical Graduate with over 25 years of experience, I can certainly relate to the additional and cumbersome requirements I had to overcome to achieve licensure, now in three states.  Congratulations on your success in achieving change!

By Marcelo Perez-Montes, MD, MPH on Feb 28, 2019 at 4:32pm

Welcome to the NCBoard leadership position.  I certainly hope the Board is moving forward.  I have a few stories of my own I could share on a deck overlooking the ocean.  It would be worth your while to hear about some former workings of the oversight system.

May your tenure be productive.

By Karolen Bowman,MD on Mar 01, 2019 at 10:05pm

As a practicing osteopathic OBGYN in NC, I want to say congratulations and thank you!
Wishing you a successful tenure

By Cecilia Banga on Mar 10, 2019 at 5:01pm
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