I am a veterinarian and Army wife who read with interest the recent VIN News Service article about licensing ("AVMA mulls license portability, membership for non-veterinarians," Jan. 11).
At one point or another, I have been licensed to practice in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Georgia, Connecticut and Massachusetts. I'm about to add Alabama to the list. There's a saying, "Home is where the Army sends us," because as a military spouse, I get little to no choice when it comes to relocating. I've had to follow my husband around for his career, and for me, that's meant needing to transfer my license.
This is not a quick or inexpensive task. It costs $90 to transfer North American Veterinary Licensing Examination scores. On top of that are individual state license application costs and the effort it takes to get letters of good standing from regulators in every state where I've held a license to practice. This can make license transfer cost around $500, if you are lucky. It is often not expedient either, although some states (Massachusetts) are very quick because they deal with a lot of military spouses.
I would wholly support implementing a program like the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, which is an agreement among participating states to streamline the licensing process for physicians. It offers a fast pathway to physician licensure because the process is digitized. If implemented in veterinary medicine, it could make the process of license transfer more cost effective and less stressful.
The skill set required of a veterinarian does not change with one's geographical location. There are minute differences from state to state, such as rabies vaccine laws, but overall, our function and skills are unchanged. There is enough stress and financial strain in this industry. It would be beneficial to have a program that makes licensing portability easy and quick, and that makes financial sense for applicants.
Dr. Erin Kilbane is pursuing board certification in clinical pathology and interning at Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine.