“The File” 1

As a doctor, you have now firmly ingrained yourself in an honorable profession… with a ton of red tape.

Somewhere in the mess that is your life during and after residency you will hear the term “credentialing”. This is the bane of all physicians everywhere, which becomes exponentially harder the more jobs you have, and more places you have been or are currently credentialed at. Now, what exactly is “credentialing”? At its core, it’s a doctor background check. The place at which you need to be credentialed wants to know about all your prior work history, previous places you were credentialed at, etc. This new place where you will be working needs to make sure that you aren’t Frank Abagnale, Jr. and that you are, in fact, the doctor that you say you are.

What does this mean for you?

In short, it’s a headache. A big one.

Every time you change jobs, or your current job adds another site to its list, you will need to undergo credentialing (again). This is such a hassle because you are heavy reliant on other people obtaining your information for you.

The normal list for being credentialed at a new place is:

medical school diploma
ECFMG certificate (if applicable)
GME certificate from any uncompleted residency/fellowship
GME certificate from any completed residency/fellowship
all medical licenses (active and inactive)
all board certifications (active and inactive)
list of current places you are credentialed with and its current contact information
copy of malpractice insurance policies for the last few years (this includes residency and fellowship)
explanation of any prior malpractice suit against you
demonstration of being up-to-date with CME

*also, some places will require that these items be notarized
**some places are more conservative than others and will require 5 years of past history (if applicable)

This all seems relatively easy to obtain, but life happens.

Things get misplaced or lost. Or, more commonly, you know you still have it somewhere, but you have no idea where. Let’s face it, keeping these documents after you got them wasn’t a huge priority when you were doing 80 hour weeks in residency, 100 hour weeks in fellowship, moving to a new place, and starting a new job…

And of course you graduated from medical school and residency… you’ve already been out and working! But if you think about it, where are your diplomas right now? Are they hanging on your wall at your house? Your parent’s house? Are they stuffed in some box in storage somewhere? These are not the things you want to deal with when trying to get credentialed at a new job or site. Especially if there is a deadline, which there usually is. Lucky for you, if you’re reading this post right now while still in medical school, or even during residency, you will be much better prepared.

You need to resolve yourself to have “The File” easily accessible at all time and

Here are the basics for what you need to do, in chronological order:

Get ECFMG Certificate (if applicable) = scan certificate
Graduate medical school = scan diploma
Graduate internship, residency, fellowship = scan GME cert (for each one)
Before leaving internship, residency, fellowship = get a copy of your malpractice coverage information and scan it, also get contact information of the point of contact, keep all together.
Get medical license = scan medical license (for each one) and scan the licensing application as well (for each one)
Get board certified = scan board certification (for each one)
Collect CME = use whatever system your board uses, log your CME, and make sure it is always up-to-date
Get credentialed at a new, or different place = scan all that documentation and get the contact information of the point of contact, keep all together
Get new malpractice carrier = scan all new documentation

Now keep all these pdfs easily accessible.

You will want to keep them securely in an online storage site, like Dropbox or Amazon Drive, etc. and just continually update it. However, the easier, but less organized way to do this is to email these pdfs to yourself on gmail and throw them in a folder named “!Doctor” or something. Ideally, you should do both, just in case. The first one for security, and the second for ease of access.

This file also has the added benefit in that a lot of these documents will overlap with acquiring a medical license in a new state as well.

Perhaps to you, this was simply common knowledge, and you had planned to do this anyway.

However, I must caution you that also I had planned to do this after finishing medical school and keep it up to date during residency… and I failed at it miserably. Then when getting credentialed for my 1st job (and my 2nd), I was really kicking myself as I had to acquire all this information again.

It is especially difficult to acquire information from your former residency program because at any given time there is you and a million other prior residents trying to get a copy of their GME cert and malpractice information. Knowing who to contact and what information they need will speed up the process significantly. I have since created “The File” for both my wife and myself. I wish we had both kept our information up-to-date as it would have saved us a lot of headache. Hindsight is 20/20.


Credentialing (and licensing) is painful.
Keep “The File” in an easily accessible format.
Thank me later.



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