Legislature(1999 - 2000)
05/14/1999 03:24 PM L&C
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CSSB 29(RLS) - REQUIREMENTS FOR PHYSICIAN'S LICENSE Number 0161 CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG announced the committee's first order of business is CSSB 29(RLS), "An Act relating to licensure of physicians; and providing for an effective date." He invited Dr. Isto forward. Number 0222 SARAH ISTO, MD, Chair, State Medical Board, Division of Occupational Licensing, Department of Commerce and Economic Development, came forward to testify in support of SB 29. She stated the board is very eager to see this legislation pass. She referred to her supporting letter previously provided to the committee because of her absence at the Wednesday [May 12] hearing. As a brief overview, Dr. Isto explained that these are changes desired by the state medical board and were requested by some of Senator Jerry Ward's [the bill sponsor] constituents. These areas were identified as problems by both groups. This legislation deals with the citizenship of applicants for new licenses, and the qualifications for graduates of non-United States or non-Canadian accredited medical schools. These schools are known as either international or foreign medical schools. Dr. Isto explained the two basic changes SB 29 makes. Section 1 deletes the requirement that an applicant [for licensure] be a U.S. citizen; there are many well-qualified physicians who are in this country on various visas, not always permanent resident visas. These physicians are seeing federal patients in Alaska but are not allowed to see non-federal Alaskan patients. The State Medical Board would like to make the services of these physicians available to Alaskan patients. Number 0361 DR. ISTO pointed out the second important change is that new physician applicants who have graduated from foreign medical schools would be required to have three postgraduate years of training. Three years is currently a standard requirement and international medical schools vary widely. Dr. Isto noted the "London School of Medicine" is wonderful, but some schools in the Caribbean operate out of a "store front." The board is confident that foreign medical school graduates who complete three years of U.S. postgraduate training will have received good training and will have been monitored. However, if these foreign graduates enter a three-year program and quit after one year, the board is very nervous about their qualifications because they have quit or may have been dismissed. Dr. Isto indicated that it is unusual for the board to receive applications from people with only one year of postgraduate training. The State Medical Board would like Alaska to join the 43 other states that require three years because currently Alaska attracts people who did not complete their three years, since it is one of seven states which allow that [from Dr. Isto's previously mentioned letter: "Alaska and the six other states which require only one year are currently at risk for attracting inadequately trained students who quit or were dismissed at the end of their first post-graduate year."]. Dr. Isto informed the committee that the other parts of SB 29 are simply items necessary to make that work. She indicated permits which can be renewed to last for three years would be needed for a foreign medical school graduate doing the "Alaska family practice residency" before that person can be licensed. If a person is an osteopath, he/she would also have to meet these requirements. Dr. Isto commented she was trying to keep her explanation brief because she thinks the committee is probably familiar with this; she asked if there are any questions. Number 0485 CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG confirmed there were no questions for Dr. Isto or further witnesses on SB 29. There being none, he stated the public hearing was closed. Number 0520 REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO made a motion to move CSSB 29(RLS) out of committee with individual recommendations and the attached zero fiscal note. There being no objection, CSSB 29(RLS) moved out of the House Labor and Commerce Standing Committee.