Kimberly Morgan had to reapply for her dental license when she moved to a new state. Her experience was nothing short of a nightmare, and she wants to share what she learned with her fellow dental professionals.This article originally appeared in Dental Assisting & Office Manager Digest. Subscribe to the monthly e-newsletter here.
Why in the world do dental professionals have to apply for an out-of-state dental license when they move to a new state? I understand the need for taking a jurisprudence exam for a state, because each state can vary in the laws that govern dentistry. But the standard of care and knowledge we’ve acquired in one state doesn’t change from state to state. So, why do we have to dig up all our past credentials, exam scores, transcripts, background checks, continuing education, CPR certificate, and so on, so we can prove ourselves to the new state dental board?
Licensed dental professionals are clearly shown on each state’s dental board website. This should be sufficient, right? Those in many other professions can easily move to a new state and begin working right away. But unfortunately, if you’re a dental professional moving to a new state, you will need to apply for an out-of-state dental license. If this is the case for you, then you should start applying for your out-of-state dental license months before your move. It took me four months to get my new dental license. State dental boards have different criteria for obtaining a license and some may be easier than others, but it’s a good idea to be prepared for a long and tedious process. Hopefully, your scenario will be smoother and faster than mine.
I started my process by going to the dental board website for the state where I was moving. I printed off the application form and started the 18-page process. I had to request the necessary transcripts, national board scores, state board scores, and state and national background checks, and it was difficult to find the right websites and addresses. It was tough trying to find out how to get my national board and state board exam scores from more than 20 years ago. Talk about a lot of Googling this keyword and that keyword, but bam! I found it!
I started requesting my scores and documentation all at once. That was my first mistake; trying to request too much at one time. I now advise tackling only a few things at a time. When the dental board didn’t receive certain forms, I was angry and frustrated. When I mailed forms myself and the dental board said they never received them, I had to repeat the process and resubmit. I was so upset!
I paid for certain documents and scores to be sent directly to the state dental board, and when the board didn’t receive them, and I had to go into detective mode and follow the email and paper trail to figure out what was forgotten. For example, when requesting my national board exam score from over 20 years ago on the website, I accidently requested a dental exam score instead of a dental hygiene exam score. That minor mistake cost me four weeks. I finally figured out I’d checked the wrong box when I called customer service. They had seen my error but didn’t try to contact me or refund my money. Crazy! They simply waited for me to contact them.
Some of these dental website forms aren’t very clear and things can be overlooked. Mistakes like this probably happen often, so why won’t their staff notify applicants quickly? I also had to resubmit for my state criminal background check twice and pay twice because the board wanted it mailed, not faxed to them. Ugh! Talk about an expensive process! The fees added up quickly. I had already spent over $600.
My college faxed my dental board transcript, and again, the board rejected it and want it mailed. My current state dental board had to verify my license by filling out a form, again for a fee, and mailing it to the new state dental board. This was repeated and paid for three times. The new state dental board claimed they never received it, and my current state board claimed they had sent all the information three times. Again, why can’t the new state board where one is applying simply go to your current state dental board’s website to learn that you are licensed there? Most states have all dental professionals’ license numbers and expiration dates on their websites. It’s like they don’t even recognize each other’s sites as being factual. Why is this the case, I wonder.
After many calls, messages, emails to and from the dental board, heartache, fees, and perseverance, I am proud to say, “I did it, I GOT MY LICENSE!” What an accomplishment, and I will never again let an existing license expire because I do not want to travel that road again.
There were many times when I just wanted to give up on my dental license application completely! I could see myself working at Starbucks and being less stressed than during this whole process. I called the state dental board to request the status of my application every other week to find out what had come in and what forms were still missing. Dental board staff tend to be overloaded and not very dedicated to each person’s file. They don’t make the process smooth and fast, because after all, they get paid whether an application is approved or not. They work at their own speed. I just wish they would understand that we’re all on the same team and just want to work in our profession as quickly as possible. Nobody wants to be unemployed for a long time.
After my rigorous journey, here are my five tips for obtaining an out-of-state dental license.
- Go to the new state’s dental board website and print the application.
- Make copies of everything that you send to the dental board, just in case you have to resubmit.
- Request a copy of scores, transcripts, background checks, etc., to be sent to you as well.
- Allow three to six months to get your license. Record the dates and people you talk with each time you deal with the board.
- When you receive your official dental license, reward yourself! What do you like? A spa visit? A big margarita? A mani-pedi? Whatever it is, do it. You’ve earned it!