As the first round of this year’s physician licensure renewals approach, a new fingerprinting requirement affecting certain renewals has sparked confusion and concern among Texas physicians. The Texas Medical Board (TMB) is taking steps to clarify the process and continues to update its frequently-asked-questions webpage as concerns arise.
The fingerprinting requirement for physicians is a result of legislation passed during the 2023 session. Similar legislation was previously passed requiring physician assistants and surgical assistants to be fingerprinted.
Physicians who were fingerprinted after Jan. 15, 2018, are exempt from this requirement. According to TMB, those fingerprinted prior to that date must undergo the one-time process beginning with February 2024 renewals.
“We encourage all physicians to visit the TMB website as we have laid out all of the instructions and questions in detail that [may remain],” TMB Director of Registration Rhea Hines told Texas Medicine Today.
TMB began sending out more detailed email instructions in December to physicians affected by the law.
TMB Director of Governmental Affairs and Communication Taurie Sloan told Texas Medicine Today she understands that some physicians have experienced difficulty finding these emails.
Email renewal reminders are sent 60 to 90 days before a license’s expiration date. Those emails will come from email@example.com, and “we recommend that [physicians] add this email address to your contacts list so they will not be lost,” she said. “Please check your junk and spam mail for these notices if you are not receiving them. If you have any questions about the fingerprint requirements or the renewal process, please contact us.”
Another area of confusion for physicians has been the six-digit ID number required for fingerprint submission to TMB.
The agency would have previously issued a five-digit ID number at the time of licensure application submission, and that number will be included in email renewal reminders, Ms. Sloan says.
She explained, however, that “many physicians were not instructed to put a ‘0’ before their previously issued five-digit ID number. This is something we detail on the website.”
TMB officials also note physicians cannot receive fingerprints from any fingerprinting service, and former fingerprints will not be accepted. Physicians must sign up for fingerprinting through IdentoGO.
TMB encourages licensees to begin the fingerprinting process early. While it can be done before the 60- to 90-day window of license renewal, physicians must contact TMB to submit them to the agency earlier than that window.
Ms. Hines also reminds physicians of a $38.25 processing fee, which is due at application time and includes processing fees for the fingerprint vendor, Texas Department of Public Safety, and FBI.
Back in November, TMB President Sherif Zaafran, MD, emphasized that once a licensee submits fingerprints, he or she will not have to do so at subsequent renewals.
Given the volume of licenses impacted by the new process, TMB is “just asking everyone to bear with us through this process,” he told Texas Medicine Today.