LLR-Board of Medical Examiners

Approved by the Board: January 11, 2022

Subject: Board Position Statement Regarding Academic Licenses Issued Pursuant to South Carolina Code §40-47-331

Faculty members of accredited medical schools in the State, primarily those faculty members trained outside the United States or Canada, who had not heretofore had the opportunity to qualify for permanent licensure were previously permitted pursuant to a 2001 Board policy to receive a temporary limited academic license. In 2006, the South Carolina Legislature passed a law that was primarily based upon this 2001 BME policy. See South Carolina Code §40-47-33.

After reviewing South Carolina Code §40-47-33, the BME seeks to explain the language set forth within this statute in order to provide clarification to applicants, licensees, and medical universities and colleges within the State regarding the appropriate use of academic licenses.

While the Board recognizes the benefits provided by academic licensees, the purpose of the academic license is to provide special or unique academic expertise within the educational setting or training program environment. The purpose of the academic license is not for allowing clinicians who are otherwise ineligible for licensure in South Carolina an alternative pathway to practice medicine outside of their university or college employment. The academic license is "not for independent practice or 'moonlighting' situations."

In order to offer proper understanding for the academic licensee, the Board considers the phrase "educational setting" set forth in South Carolina Code §40-47-33(A)(3) to be the campus of the medical school accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) or Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) to which the academic licensee has been attached through the request by the dean. Likewise, in this same Code section, the Board considers the phrase "training program" to be a post-graduate educational program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and associated with the medical school to which the licensee brings added expertise.

Independent practice or moonlighting, as set forth in South Carolina Code §40-47-33(A)(4), is considered to be the practice of medicine by an academic licensee outside of the medical school's main campus in which there is an absence of residents or fellows performing rotations in the licensee's specialty and in which there is no ability for necessary oversight of practice to the level that is typically expected of a resident in training. The ability to count each year under an academic license toward a year of US postgraduate training noted in the statute implies that the licensee is being monitored by the dean in a fashion commensurate with the licensee's training and abilities in cooperation with the licensee's department chair.

Board appearance is required for all applicants seeking initial academic licensure. The department chair is required to appear with the applicant before the Board. The Board will assess the applicant's credentials and the compelling reason to be invited by the dean, and determine the practice setting or educational setting. Any proposed changes to an approved academic license must be requested by the dean and approved by the Board.

It is expected that physicians with an academic license will apply for a permanent license if and when the criteria for permanent licensure are achieved. For the purpose of licensing, each year at an academic appointment for assistant professor or higher can satisfy a year of United States postgraduate training. See South Carolina Code §40-47-32(G)(3) (allowing such equivalency).

Renewal and Termination

Pursuant to South Carolina Code §40-47-41(A), academic licenses are required to be renewed annually. See South Carolina Code §40-47-41(A) ("A license issued pursuant to this chapter may be renewed biennially or as otherwise provided by the board and department.")

An academic license permits the licensee to practice only within the confines of the instructional program specified in the application and shall automatically terminate whenever the licensee ceases to be involved in that program. The dean should notify the Board when the licensee ceases to be involved in the program so that the academic license can be canceled.

1 In accordance with South Carolina Code Section 40-47-10(I)(1), the State Board of Medical Examiners of South Carolina is authorized to promulgate this statement as guidance for academic licensees under the South Carolina Medical Practice Act.