NC Medical Board Eases Some Requirements in Response to COVID-19

April 1, 2020

The North Carolina Medical Board (NCMB) held an emergency meeting last Friday during which they took several actions to support the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specific actions include:

• Adopted rules requested by NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH, to reduce the occurrence of reported stockpiling or inappropriate prescribing of chloroquine, azithromycin and other medications, and ensure that these drugs are available to patients who need them.

• Approved an order to postpone USMLE and COMLEX–USA Step/Level 2 testing requirements for medical students prior to beginning a residency program. This will allow medical students who have otherwise completed the requirements to graduate from medical school and been accepted into a North Carolina residency training program to start their residency, which will almost certainly include assisting in battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

• Approved an order to allow hospitals, health systems, or multi-specialty group practices to temporarily reassign a PA to a new practice area to meet a critical need without formally notifying the NCMB of the new supervisory arrangements. The supervising physician and facility administration should ensure the physician assistant:
o Is reassigned to perform only those medical tasks for which they are competent  and qualified to do;
o Has reasonable and immediate access to a physician, either in person or          electronically, should medical issues arise;
o Should comply with all applicable rules including the requirement to confer at least monthly with a physician to ensure meaningful supervision and quality assurance within the new practice setting.

• Approved an order to allow Fellows with a Resident Training License (RTL) to apply for a Limited Emergency License, which provides a temporary unrestricted and full 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.

These actions seek to support Gov. Cooper’s call to increase the supply of qualified medical professionals available to help during this pandemic. In addition to the above, the NCMB offers two different emergency temporary license applications to facilitate quickly getting physicians and PAs to work. There are no fees and typically licenses are issued within 48 business hours. Learn more about those licenses and other steps NCMB has taken to address the COVID-19 crisis at www.ncmedboard.org/covid.

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