What to Doctors do After Losing Their License?

Say a doctor loses her license to practice. Are there still jobs she can find which her medical training gives her special qualifications for? Or does she have to pretty much just start at the bottom as though she just had a college degree or something?

In other words, if you lose your medical license, just how screwed are you?



There are certainly quite a few “desk jobs” that require MD’s that don’t require board certification, which is what I believe people typically refer to as a doctor’s “license.”

However, most pulled licenses aren’t for somple incompetence but typically some major ethical lapses, the type which would make someone really not want to hire you.

Some, like a particular Dr Patel move to another country after being deregistered in the US, only to continue their less-than-exemplary medical practices abroad.


When I worked at a restaraunt, the health inspector was an MD who didn’t have his liscense (don’t know the reason why).

I know that for nurses at least, a license can be lost for a very innocent mistake (not having to do with ethics), as well as the license of the nurse in charge (who is supposed to be supervising), or at least thats the sound of it over at allnurses.com. I have no idea what one could do after this happened.

Pharmaceutical Supply firms would like you for a salesman, I dare say.


Sorry, but I thought that this was a very interesting question. I had some general idea on the subject, but if anyone has some more specific comments or stories I’d be interested.

By the way, could we also expand the op to include JD’s that actually get disbarred (as opposed to the many that don’t take the bar)?

Hopefully this is related. When I was in the Marines, a lot of servicemember’s hated seeing the military doctors for surgery and the like, stating “they are just doctors who lost their license in the civilian world” or “they have been sued so many times for malpractice they can not afford medical insurance”.

If anyone can verify this, perhaps this is what some doctors do when they lose their license.

Sam Sheppard took up pro wrestling.
His superior knowledge of anatomy made his nerve hold very effective.

Not a human doctor, but a vet down where I used to live lost his license for animal abuse but was able to continue his practice by being a homeopathic/acupuncture vet :stuck_out_tongue:

I can give two examples. My first cousin, an anasthesiologist, had his licence suspended for being addicted to something. He practiced under supervision for two years and then his licence was restored. I think that addiction is a relatively common hazard for anasthesiologists and his experience is probably typical. He was not accused of any medical malfeasance, of course.

Another example I know of is a woman who could not take the rigors of being a resident and just walked out after 6 weeks. She now works for an insurance company as a claims adjustor, where her medical knowledge is important.

Actually, physicians’ licenses are issued by the state (once you’ve passed your US Medical License Examinations parts 1, 2, and 3), and are distinct from Board certification, which are issued (following one or more additional heinous exams) by subspecialty organizations.

You technically don’t need to be Board-certified to practice in your specialty, but it generally makes life a lot easier, since many (most?) practices only hire “Board-certified” or at least “Board-eligible” people.

This is true.

If you are talking about the 1960s or 1970s, I can believe it, having served in the army and having seen a lot of mismanagement and unethical behavior. However, in recent years I have met a lot of army and navy docs and they seem to me to be just as good as civilian docs any day and it has been a long time since I’ve read about any scandals caused by the poor performance of a military doc. I think that the military docs are probably better than the civilian docs working for the military.

I would be very surprised if the military did not recquire its docs to maintain a valid medical license in at least one state.

At my first job after college, I worked for a nonprofit that did job placement for Soviet refugees. Our office had some 200 Soviet doctors as clients, most of whom were never going to pass boards, much less survive a residency in the U.S. to get relicensed. We found a bunch of them jobs as dialysis technicians - at the time, in Illinois at least, no further training or licensing was required for foreign M.D.s.

A scary number of doctors who lose their licenses in one state keep them in other states, and resume practice.

We have a real estate agent who is a disbarred attorney (lost his license for messing with his escrow account).

Just curious if the OP was brought about by Sunday night’s Family Guy?

Move to a small town in Nevada or Arizona and proceed to drink themselves to death, until a late night knock on the door reveals a mysterious stranger, with even more mysterious injuries. After the NSA gets involved, it turns out the stranger isn’t even human…

Why not? Was it because they weren’t fluent enough in English? Or was their medical training insufficient by American standards? Or did they just not want to bother going through the relicensing process?

This wasn’t a doctor but a lawyer… I knew a woman in Miami who had a law degree from Spain. In order to turn it into a viable US law degree, she basically had to get an American Bachelor’s and then go to Law School. That is, her “bachelor’s” in Law wasn’t considered equal to even several credits of US college. While the legal systems of Spain and the US are very different, you kind of think 5 years of Spanish Law School should count as something - but they didn’t.

When I went to Grad School in the US, my GREs were all in the top 10%. We were given additional Chemistry exams (prepared by the American Chemical Society) and if you did badly in those, you had to take undergrad-level courses. Those among us who scored 98% (me) and 99% (a Korean guy) could still not use that to get waivers from graduate courses that we were, in fact, qualified to teach. I could have provided sillabi for my undergrad courses showing that they covered more than several of my grad courses, but this was simply Not Considered.

One of the stupidest problems the EU is facing right now, and has faced for quite a while, is getting all the different degrees homologated, so that a company in, say, Austria, can look at a degree from Portugal and have an idea what level it’s at. Some governments are not helping this by inventing new degrees.