Arizona to recognize out-of-state licenses for veterinarians

Regulators work to implement universal licensing law for all professionals

July 25, 2019 (published)
By Jennifer Fiala

Arizona has eased the licensing process for out-of-state professionals, veterinarians included, under a new law that takes effect Aug. 27.

The Universal Licensing Recognition Law — the first of its kind in the country — directs Arizona regulators to recognize the occupational licenses of new residents who've been licensed by agencies in other states for at least a year, so long as they are in good professional standing with no pending investigations or infractions.

The law affects any industry that requires a license to operate, from cosmetologists and real estate agents to dentists and physicians. The change doesn't mean professionals from outside Arizona automatically can work in the state, but there will be fewer requirements to do so. The goal is to eliminate duplicative training and paperwork needed to obtain a state license, Gov. Doug Ducey explained when he signed the bill in April.

“You don't lose your skills simply because you pack up a U-Haul truck and make the decision to move to Arizona,” Ducey said, according to local media.

In order to qualify for a license under the new law, veterinarians still must apply to the Arizona State Veterinary Medical Examining Board and pass a state-mandated licensing exam. The board is in the process of interpreting the new law's impact on other licensing criteria and streamlining application requirements, Executive Director Victoria Whitmore said by email.  

“We, like most agencies, are still working out the details of how the law will be implemented,” she said. “… It is important to note that the new law does not recognize other states' occupational licenses automatically! However, the process will involve fewer requirements for most applicants who establish Arizona residency.”

Changes to the regulations, she said, most likely would benefit those who apply for licensure by endorsement. Those are applicants whose score on the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination is more than five years old. Passing the exam is required of all veterinarians seeking a license in the U.S. or Canada.

"Now, such applicants must show proof of being actively engaged in the practice of veterinary medicine for at least three of the preceding five years, or six of the preceding 10 years, in one of more states or Canada before submitting an application," Whitmore explained. "When the law becomes effective, those people only have to have been licensed by another state for at least one year; therefore, that lessens the time needed [to] be licensed in another state."

Whitmore said she does not anticipate changes to the Arizona Veterinary Practice Act. Asked whether out-of-state veterinarians are moving to Arizona in large numbers, she stated that the board does not track applicants by their home state.

Emily Kane, executive director of the Arizona Veterinary Medical Association, declined to comment on the licensing change or say whether many veterinarians are moving to the state. Nearly 2,600 veterinarians are licensed to practice in Arizona.

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