Montana Regulation of Physician


In Montana, provisions relating to the regulation of physicians are found under Mont. Code Anno., § 37-3-301 through § 37-3-349.  Accordingly, four kinds of licenses are issued under the Montana Board of Medical Examiner’s seal which include a physician’s license, a specialized license, a temporary license, and a telemedicine license[i].  The board will decide on the type of license to be issued.  An applicant is not permitted to engage in the practice of medicine before the license is issued.  Pursuant to the statute, a person is qualified to practice medicine if s/he is of good moral character and is a graduate of an approved medical school.  The applicant should also have successfully completed an approved residency program of at least 2 years.  However, an applicant who graduated from medical school prior to 2000 should have experience or training that in the opinion of the board is at least the equivalent of a 2-year approved residency program.  Additionally, the applicant should submit a completed application and must be able to communicate in the English language.  The board may authorize the medical department to issue the license subject to terms of probation or other conditions or limitations set by the board.  It may refuse a license if the applicant has committed unprofessional conduct or are otherwise unqualified.

Mont. Code Anno., § 37-3-309 (2010) provides that a person desiring a license to practice medicine shall apply to the department on an approved form.  The application must be accompanied by the license fee and documents, affidavits, and certificates necessary to establish that the applicant possesses the qualifications prescribed apart from an examination required by the board.  The burden of proof is on the applicant, but the department may make an independent investigation to determine whether the applicant possesses the qualifications and whether the applicant has committed unprofessional conduct.  The applicant shall provide necessary authorizations for the release of records and information pertinent to the department’s inquiry.  License to practice medicine may be issued on the basis of an examination held by the board.  The applicant shall pay an examination fee as set by the board which will be reasonable and commensurate with the costs of the examination and related costs.  Such examination fee shall be in addition to the application fee.  All applicants, including applicants for a temporary license, shall pay an initial application fee as prescribed by the board.

If the board determines that an applicant possesses the required qualifications, the department shall issue a license to practice medicine.  The license will be signed by the president or vice-president of the board, attested by the secretary, and sealed with the seal of the board.[ii].  The board may authorize the department to issue a physician’s license, license by reciprocity or license by endorsement on the basis of record or examination certification issued by the national board of medical examiners, federation licensing examination committee and the national board of examiners for osteopathic physicians and surgeons.  The board may also authorize the department to issue an applicant a physician’s license, license by reciprocity, or license by endorsement in a situation where a valid, unsuspended and unrevoked license or certificate is issued to the applicant on the basis of an examination an examining board under the laws of another state or territory of the U.S.or of the District of Columbia or of a foreign country.  An applicant who applies for a license but fails the examination may not be granted a license based on credentials from another state, territory, or foreign country or on a certificate issued by the national board of medical examiners or successors, by the federation licensing examination committee or successors, or by the Medical Council of Canada.  The board may adopt reciprocity or endorsement requirements current with changes in standards in the practice of medicine.  The board may require a written or oral examination of the applicant or admission by reciprocity or endorsement.  It may further require that graduates of foreign medical schools pass an examination given by the education council for foreign medical graduates or successors.  A holder of doctor’s degree in osteopathy granted in 1955 or before may not be licensed without taking and passing the examination given by the department[iii].

If the board finds that an applicant for a license to practice medicine does not possess the qualifications or character required or that the applicant has committed unprofessional conduct, it shall refrain from authorizing the department to issue a license.  In such cases the department shall mail to the applicant a written notification of the board’s decision, together with notice of a time and place of a hearing before the board.  If the applicant without cause fails to appear at the hearing or if after the hearing the board determines that the applicant is not entitled to a license, the board shall refuse to grant the license[iv].
Mont. Code Anno., § 37-3-323 deals with the suspension of license.  The department may investigate whenever it suspects that a license applicant or a person having a license to practice medicine in Montana:

  • is mentally or physically unable to safely engage in the practice of medicine;
  • has procured a license to practice medicine by fraud or misrepresentation or through mistake;
  • has been declared incompetent by a court of competent jurisdiction and has not later been lawfully declared competent; or
  • has a condition that impairs the person’s intellect or judgment to the extent that the condition incapacitates the person for the safe performance of professional duties.

License is suspended by the department if the licensee has been guilty of unprofessional conduct or has practiced medicine with a suspended or revoked license.  An investigation is initiated under this section to determine the probability of the existence of the conditions or commissions of these offences.  The board may order the person to submit to a physical examination or a mental examination, or both, by a physician or physicians selected by the board if it appears to be in the best interests of the public that this evaluation be secured.  The board may examine and scrutinize the hospital records and reports of a licensee or license applicant as part of the examination, and copies must be released to the board on written request.

Pursuant to the statute, a person practicing medicine in Montana if found guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction shall be fined to an amount between $250 and $1,000 or be imprisoned in the county jail for a period between 90 days and 1 year, or both.  A person presenting or attempting to file another person’s diploma, license, certificate, or credentials as his/her own is guilty of a felony and on conviction shall be imprisoned in the state penitentiary for a term between 1 year and 10 years.  S/he is liable for the same punishment if s/he provides forged or false evidence to the board, or to the department in connection with an application for a license to practice medicine or who practices medicine under a false or assumed name or who falsely impersonates another licensee[v]

[i] Mont. Code Anno., § 37-3-341, Mont. Code Anno., § 37-3-345, Mont. Code Anno., § 37-3-347, Mont. Code Anno., § 37-3-349.

[ii] Mont. Code Anno., § 37-3-312 (2010).

[iii] Mont. Code Anno., § 37-3-312.

[iv] Mont. Code Anno., § 37-3-321 (2010).

[v] Mont. Code Anno., § 37-3-325 (2010).