According to South Carolina statutes, a person is entitled to practice medicine only after attaining twenty-one years of age[i]. Licensed osteopathic physicians and surgeons are entitled to the same rights and privileges as physicians and surgeons of other schools of medicine with respect to the treatment of cases, hospital privileges, and the holding of health offices or offices of public institutions.
Licensed physicians and surgeons are entitled “to practice medicine in all its branches regardless of whether the physician holds an M.D. or D.O. degree and has passed the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX–USA) examination sequence, or graduated from a college accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) or the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA), or successfully completed post-graduate training from the American Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) approved or AOA-approved programs, or obtained American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) or AOA board certification, or on the basis of his or her race, color, creed, religion, sex, or national origin[ii].”
The board may issue limited licenses to applicants for the purpose of postgraduate medical residency training or for employment with a state agency, as approved by the board[iii]. A limited license entitles the licensee to apply for individual controlled substance registration through the Department of Health and Environmental Control. A limited license is valid for one year or part of one year and can be renewed.
The board may also issue a special limited license to a physician licensed in another state for up to fourteen days not more than four times a year in order to authorize practice under supervision for training involving direct patient care or to explore potential employment relationships[iv].
In order to obtain a permanent license to practice medicine, an applicant shall fulfill certain mandatory requirements. The applicant must have graduated from a medical school or school of osteopathic medicine located in the United States or Canada that is accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical or Osteopathic Education or other accrediting body, as the case may be, approved by the board[v]. In cases where the applicant has graduated from a medical school located outside of the United States, such applicant shall possess a permanent Standard Certificate from the Education Commission on Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) and document a minimum of three years of progressive postgraduate medical residency training in the United States approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), American Osteopathic Association (AOA), or postgraduate training in Canada approved by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons. This requirement may be waived if the applicant has been actively licensed in another state for the preceding five years or more without significant disciplinary action. In such a case, the applicant need only document one year of postgraduate residency training approved by the board or completion of a Fifth Pathway program and a minimum of three years progressive postgraduate medical residency training in the United States approved by the ACGME or AOA or postgraduate training in Canada approved by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons or be certified by a specialty board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), the AOA, or another organization approved by the board. It is to be noted that the the board may waive the ECFMG or Fifth Pathway requirement if the applicant is to have a full-time academic faculty appointment at the rank of assistant professor or greater at a medical school in South Carolina.
The board may require a criminal history background check of each applicant for an authorization to practice[vi]. Each applicant may be required to furnish a full set of fingerprints and additional information required to enable a criminal history background check to be conducted by the State Law Enforcement Division or the State Identification Bureau of another state and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, if no disqualifying record is identified at the state level[vii]. Costs of conducting a criminal history background check must be borne by the applicant.
[i] S.C. Code Ann. § 40-47-30.
[ii] S.C. Code Ann. § 40-47-25.
[iii] S.C. Code Ann. § 40-47-31.
[v] S.C. Code Ann. § 40-47-32.
[vi] S.C. Code Ann. § 40-47-36.