By Divya Sriharan
On June 11, 2021, the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approved proposed amendments to sections 1320 and 1321, Title 16 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR), to implement SB 798 (Hill) (Chapter 775, Statutes of 2017), which became operative on January 1, 2020 and made revisions to postgraduate training and licensing requirements for physicians and surgeons to streamline the process for recognizing international medical schools, as well as modified the licensing exemption period to make it uniform for both domestic and international medical schools. SB 798 also specified the amount of postgraduate training necessary for a license. MBC sought to take regulatory action to amend sections 1320 and 1321 in order to conform to the new changes in law as a result of this bill, as explained in the Board’s initial statement of reasons. The Board originally commenced the rulemaking process on these proposed regulations on June 19, 2020 through its published notice. [See 26:1 CRLR 43–45]
Through these regulatory changes, the Board standardized the license exemption period. Prior to SB 798, the license exemption period was one to two years depending on where the applicant went to school. These changes amend section 1320(a) to make the license exemption period 39 months for all applications, regardless of whether their school is domestic or international. The amendment also requires applicants to demonstrate that they have successfully completed at least 36 months of approved postgraduate training to qualify for a physician’s and surgeon’s license. The proposed amendment clarifies that all approved postgraduate training for which an applicant received credit is counted towards the 39-month exemption period, regardless of whether the postgraduate training program was successfully completed. These regulatory changes amend section 1320(b) to clarify that a person must have graduated from an approved medical school to participate in a guest rotation in an approved postgraduate training program in California.
The Board also amended sections 1321(a) through (c), regarding approved postgraduate training. New section 1321(a) clarifies that postgraduate programs in the United States, its territories, and in Canada that are accredited by specified associations shall be approved for postgraduate training. The proposed amendment also strikes unnecessary language and makes non-substantive changes to language for clarity. The amendment to section 1321(c) strikes the requirement for postgraduate training programs to be completed prior to qualifying for a physician’s or surgeon’s license, and clarifies that an applicant who has been formally admitted to any approved postgraduate training program qualifies for licensure. Last, the proposal re-letters sections 1321(d) to 1321(c) and eliminates the distinction between graduates of domestic and international medical schools, again to conform to the changes made by SB 798.
The Board did not schedule a public hearing for this action, as it received no written request during the public comment period. The new regulations went into effect on June 11, 2021.