Relocating to a new state can be an exciting yet daunting prospect, especially for healthcare providers such as dentists. The process of obtaining a new dental license and establishing oneself in a different region requires careful planning and adherence to specific requirements. Harini Jindal, DMD, a supported doctor at Coal Mountain Dental Care, shared her valuable insights gained from her relocation journey from South Carolina to Georgia. In addition to her remarkable achievement of opening two successful De Novos, she candidly discussed the hurdles she faced during the transition and the assistance she received from Heartland Dental.
What steps did you have to take to move your dental license to the new state?
There are several steps to take when relocating and obtaining your new dental license. At a high-level the steps are:
- Fill out an application: Begin by filling out an application form available on the state board website. The website will provide instructions on the required documents.
- Transfer national board test results: If your national board test results are current, you can request the board to send them directly to the state board of the new state. Ensure that the results are sent officially, as copies may not be accepted.
- Furnish necessary documents: Provide transcripts directly from your dental school, information about any previous licenses held (active, revoked, or lapsed), and details regarding any malpractice actions. Additionally, be prepared to take a jurisprudence exam specific to the state where you are applying.
- Research and plan ahead: Visit the state dental board website for comprehensive information and useful links. You can also reach out to the board directly for any queries. Depending on your experience, you may be eligible for a "licensure by credentials" or be required to retake a state or regional board exam. Early awareness of these requirements is crucial for effective planning.
Were there any particular resources you found helpful in navigating the licensing and relocation process?
I can’t state enough how important it is to rely on information directly from the state dental board rather than social media or non-official websites. Laws and requirements may have changed, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it is essential to stay updated through official channels.
How did Heartland Dental support you throughout the relocation process?
Heartland was very supportive and helped me find another practice. From the onset of my request to move due to family reasons, to the end and the in-office transition, Heartland has provided me world class support that made my transition seamless. I was able to interview at practices in Georgia and determine what was a good fit for me and finally transition into the practice.
I really enjoyed being able to move within the Heartland Dental network without the stress of dealing with finding an office and transitioning. I don't think this would've been possible in private practice.
Were there any specific requirements or challenges that you had to overcome?
The most significant challenges often revolve around obtaining and transferring the necessary records. Delays in record transfers, especially during peak periods, can prolong the application process. It is crucial to stay vigilant and follow up on the progress of record transfers to ensure a timely completion of your application.
Another challenge when relocating is determining whether you need to retake a state board exam. Dentists who have practiced for many years may be eligible for "licensure by credentials," while newer dentists might have to undertake the exam, which can involve acquiring patients, travel, and additional expenses. This is why I advise dentists to gain some experience before considering relocation to make the requirements less strenuous.
What is your advice for any dentist who is looking to relocate?
It is crucial to emphasize the significance of being financially stable and well-prepared for the relocation process, especially during the months ahead. The expenses associated with acquiring records (each record incurring substantial costs along with the new licensure fee) can be quite daunting. The stress mainly arises from having to handle these unforeseen expenses and potentially experiencing a slight delay in building your patient base and production (which, of course, varies for each person). Additionally, there is the challenge of finding a new residence, among other tasks.
Also, you can never start the process too early! Planning ahead, requesting board scores and transcripts early, and having financial stability are crucial factors in preparing for the challenges of relocation.
Learn more about how Heartland Dental supports dentists in a career with interstate flexibility.