New Rules Open Door for More Doctors in Nevada

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More out-of-state doctors are qualifying to practice in Nevada under new regulations adopted by the state Board of Medical Examiners.

The examiners board, at meetings Friday and Saturday, granted 24 licenses - 16 of them under the new regulation. Tony Clark, the panel's assistant executive director, said the latest licenses are in addition to 200 doctors admitted during the last six months.

"It looks like there are plenty of physicians coming to Nevada," Clark added.

Under the old rules, to be admitted in Nevada a doctor had to have passed the state's Special Purpose Examination within the past 10 years. That's the basic test a new doctor takes when completing his training.

Because the test covers a broad range of medical knowledge, many veteran doctors who have been specialists in their field for a long time believed it would be difficult for them to pass the test, board officials said.

The board amended its regulations Friday to allow licenses for doctors who have been recertified or have passed examinations in their medical specialties in the last seven to 10 years. Or doctors could be admitted if they were examined by specialists in their fields.

The influx of doctors is good news because the state needs more physicians, said Larry Matheis, executive director of the Nevada State Medical Association, an organization of physicians.

Nevada is the fastest growing state in the nation, Matheis said, adding that the state ranked 48th among the states in 2001 for its ratio of physicians to population.

The 2003 Legislature, in efforts to help attract new doctors, changed the law to allow the board to waive its requirements to admit new doctors if they were licensed in other states.

The board's records show there were 3,546 active physicians in Nevada at the end of 2002 compared with 3,523 at the close of 2001.