Resources & Information

Mar 31 2020

NCMB acts to reduce licensure barriers

As part of NCMB’s ongoing COVID-19 response, the Board has approved several measures to ease barriers to medical licensure. These actions are in response to Gov. Cooper’s call to increase the supply of qualified medical professionals available to help in the state’s response to the pandemic.

Steps taken include:

•  Allowing fully qualified physicians who are completing advanced fellowship training with a North Carolina training institution to apply for a limited emergency license, which provides a temporary full and unrestricted medical license during the declared state of emergency. This action will allow several hundred physicians with proven competence in a primary specialty to take care of patients and ease the potential strain on physicians currently in the health care system. Read the order authorizing this change.

•  Postponing certain medical license examinations (USMLE and COMLEX–USA Step/Level 2) for fourth year medical students who have matched with a North Carolina training institution. This will allow medical students who have otherwise completed the requirements to graduate from medical school and been accepted into a North Carolina residency program to begin their training, which will almost certainly include assisting with the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the order authorizing this change. NOTE: This order has been dissolved and testng requirements are restored as of Aug. 31, 2021. Read the dissolution order.

•  Temporarily suspending criminal background checks for license applications due to lack of availability of fingerprinting services, which is a key element to conducting a background check. NCMB will access secondary sources to check for criminal history as it processes license applications. Applicants granted a license without a background check will be required to complete one once fingerprinting services resume. Read the order authorizing this change. NOTE: This order has been dissolved and brackground checks are required of all applicants who apply on or after Sept. 1, 2021. Read the dissolution order.

Combined, these measures will allow potentially thousands of qualified physicians to enter the health care field in North Carolina as the state ramps up its response efforts. Visit for more information on NCMB’s COVID-19 Response.