Virginia Regulation of Physicians

Va. Code Ann. § 54.1-2929 provides that no person shall practice medicine, osteopathy, chiropractic medicine, or podiatry without obtaining a license from the Board of Medicine.

The mandatory requirements for examination and admission for licensure to practice medicine are that the applicant must have completed eighteen years of age and of good moral character, must have successfully completed the concerned medical educational course of study of the concerned branch of the healing arts and has completed one year of satisfactory postgraduate training in a hospital approved by an accrediting agency recognized by the Board for internships or residency training[i]. The postgraduate training requirement may be waived at the discretion of the Board if an applicant in podiatry has been in active practice for four continuous years while serving in the military and is a diplomat of the American Board of Podiatric Surgery.  Applicants for licensure in chiropractic medicine need not fulfill this requirement.

The Board may also issue a temporary license to certain foreign graduates to obtain training[ii].  Va. Code Ann. § 54.1-2962 prohibits the division of fees between physicians and surgeons charged for a surgical operation or medical services.  However, the prohibition is not applicable to members of any regularly organized partnership of such surgeons or physicians from making any division of their total fees among themselves as they may determine or a group of duly licensed practitioners of any branch or branches of the healing arts from using their joint fees to defray their joint operating costs[iii].

Moreover, medical practitioners are prohibited from knowingly and willfully soliciting or receiving any remuneration directly or indirectly, in cash or in kind, in return for referring an individual or individuals to a facility or institution as defined in Va. Code Ann. § 37.2-100 or a hospital as defined in  Va. Code Ann. § 32.1-123[iv].

The Board has discretion to refuse admission to a candidate to any examination; refuse to issue a certificate or license to any applicant; reprimand any person; place any person on probation for such time as it may designate; suspend any license for a stated period of time or indefinitely; or revoke any license for any acts of unprofessional conduct.  An act of unprofessional conduct includes the following:

  • Making false statements or representations or fraud or deceit in obtaining admission to the practice, or in the actual practice of any branch of the healing arts.
  • Intentional or negligent conduct in the practice that causes or is likely to cause injury to patients.
  • Mental or physical incapacity or incompetence to practice the profession in a safe manner to the practitioner’s patients and the public.
  • Perform or aid or abet in procuring or performing a criminal abortion.
  • Engaging in the medical practice under a false or assumed name, or impersonating another practitioner of a like, similar, or different name.
  • Prescribing or dispensing any controlled substance with the intent or knowledge that it will be used otherwise than medicinally, or for accepted therapeutic purposes, or with the intent to evade any law with respect to the sale, use, or disposition of such a drug.
  • Knowingly and willfully committing a felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude in any territory of the United States.
  • Aiding or abetting, having professional connection with, or lending his/her name to any person known to him/her to be practicing illegally any of the healing arts.
  • Inability to practice with reasonable skill or safety because of illness or substance abuse.
  • Advertising the professional practice using a claim of superiority.
  • Violating any provision of statute or regulation, state or federal, relating to the manufacture, distribution, dispensing, or administration of drugs, or
  • Engaging in prohibited sexual contact with a patient that a reasonable patient would consider lewd and offensive.

Upon receipt of documentation from any court or state or federal agency of revocation or suspension of a physician’s license to practice, the Board shall immediately suspend or revoke, without a hearing, the certificate or license of any person so disciplined, convicted or adjudged[v].  Such person may apply to the Board for reinstatement of his certificate or license and shall be entitled to a hearing not later than the next regular meeting of the Board after the expiration of thirty days from the receipt of such application, and shall have the right to be represented by counsel and to summon witnesses to testify in his/her behalf.  The reinstatement of the applicant’s certificate or license shall require the affirmative vote of three-fourths of the members at the hearing and the Board may order the reinstatement without further examination[vi].

The Board is authorized to use experts’ services in disciplinary proceedings.  The executive director of the Board may contract with an expert or a panel of experts in the various specialties to provide assistance in investigating and evaluating practitioners who may be subject to punitive action[vii].

A practitioner whose license is suspended or revoked by the Board is prohibited from practicing any healing arts in the Commonwealth pending his/her appeal.  In the event of a license suspension or revocation becoming final, the practitioner shall forthwith give notice of that action, by certified mail, to all patients to whom he/she is currently providing services[viii].

[i] Va. Code Ann. § 54.1-2930.

[ii] Va. Code Ann. § 54.1-2933.1.

[iii] Id.

[iv] Va. Code Ann. § 54.1-2962.1.

[v] Va. Code Ann. § 54.1-2917.

[vi] Id.

[vii] Va. Code Ann. § 54.1-2925.

[viii] Va. Code Ann. § 54.1-2920.


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