Step 3, Medical License, and DEA

Step 3:

How do I register to take the exam?

  • Check out the website for full details
  • You need to have obtained your MD degree and you may only apply after the date of graduation on your diploma in order to register.
  • You need to first submit your application. The FSMB processes USMLE Step 3 applications in the order they are received. If you submit your application online, the FSMB will begin processing your application within 2-3 business days. However, your online application cannot be completed until the FSMB receives the Certification of Identity form and any other required document(s) that you must mail to our offices. Once the document(s) arrive, your application will be completed within approximately 3-5 business days after receiving all documents and meeting all requirements.
  • Once your application is registered and your eligibility status approved, an e-mail will be sent to you indicating your application has been approved. Within 3-5 business days, a subsequent e-mail will be sent to you with instructions on how to obtain and print your electronic scheduling permit.
  • Once you access and print your Scheduling Permit you will be able to contact Prometric to schedule your Step 3 exam.  This is a two-day test, but those may be consecutive or non-consecutive days.  Prometric schedules test dates on a first-come, first-served basis. You are urged to schedule a testing date relatively early in your eligibility period. This will provide the greatest flexibility in the event that you must reschedule your appointment.

When do I take the exam?

  • You may take the exam at any time after you graduate from medical school AND you should take it by the fall of your R2 year as your score is needed for licensing.
  • Given that the exam is on two consecutive days, this can be difficult to do (and perhaps impossible) during inpatient months. Therefore, most residents take the exam while they are on PQJ, VAAC, or block rotation during their intern year or early on in their R2 year.
  • When scheduling, you can only miss clinic if there are no other dates. Please be sure to talk with your elective/clinic/block coordinators in advances.

Preparing for the test:

  • Most people find that their intern year prepares them for the bulk of the USMLE step 3.
  • Often people spend a short amount of time reviewing material from other specialties such as OB/gyn, peds, etc.
  • There is a section of the test which is computer-based case simulation, which is different from the previous USMLE tests. It is worth looking at the tutorial and sample cases to familiarize yourself with these questions, which can be found on the website.

There is a reimbursement for most of the cost of the exam (varies based on budget each year). Please email your permit with the eligibility period, receipt, and your credit card statement showing your name and the payment made for the exam (please black out your credit card number and any other charges) to Vivian Robinson,


Medical License

Some tips:

You MUST HAVE YOUR MEDICAL LICENSE by July 1 of your R3 year to work as a R3 (and get paid!). There is no fudge factor in this; your provider number will be cut off and you will be unable to work/be paid as a resident. The medical board generally advises that you apply 6-9 months before you’ll need your license. HOWEVER, based on experience we ask that you plan to get your application in by OCTOBER 1st. Read below for more information.

The GME office has two licensing fairs each year. They will have the following services (for a charge) available at these fairs: photographer, Live Scan Fingerprinting, and a notary.  Find more information on the GME website:

Regardless of whether you go to a fair, begin the process by going to the California Medical Board website: and printing out the application and reading about the steps you need to take. The L1A-L1E pages of the application should be completed prior to notarizing; please be sure your photo is attached. Sections L3 A and B and L4 need to come to M987 for Harry’s signature in order for the residency office to get the university seal. The university seal is obtained from the GME office, so getting the seal can take a week at times, depending on how busy the GME office is.

The following tips are offered by our GME office

  • Submit the initial licensing application (L1A – L1E) and the application fee ($491) AS SOON AS YOU CAN. This will speed up the processing of your application and documents.
  • All documentation sent to the Medical Board should be done through Fed Ex or UPS for tracking purposes. Do not send things through regular mail.
  • We recommend making both license payments at the same time with a credit card on the Medical Board’s website ( Be sure to attach the receipt to the application (L1A – L1E) when you send it in.
  • Complete all documentation clearly, legibly, and accurately.
  •  Once you have completed your application, send it in immediately. The Board occasionally updates their forms and will not accept old versions of the paperwork.
  • Do not use your home address on the application or other licensing forms. The address you use will be posted on the Medical Board website and can be accessed by patients. Use your program address, 505 Parnassus Ave., San Francisco, CA 94143-0119 is fine to use.
  • Do not send all documents to the Medical Board at the same time…submit them as they are ready. Also, you do not need to have taken the step 3 exam before submitting the application. You can put “pending” down where it asks about that on the application. Please plan to have taken the step 3 exam by the end of October.
  • Have your fingerprints done very early in the process. Any problems with the processing of your fingerprints may delay the issue of your license by several months.
  • Your license is valid for two birthdays and expires on the last day of your birth month. The length of the initial license varies from 13 to 24 months depending upon when the license is granted. Obtaining your license during your birth month gives you a full 24 months before renewal.
  • DO NOT WAIT UNTIL YOUR BIRTH MONTH TO SEND IN YOUR PAPERWORK. If you want your license issued during your birth month, send in everything, including the final licensing fee and include the birth month licensure request form available on the website.
  • To obtain your USMLE transcripts you may either request them by mail or the web. The cost is the same, but if you request by mail you can ask for a copy to be sent to you as well. If you use the web, copies can only be sent to official licensing entities. However, the paper version must be notarized.
  • Do not request your USMLE transcripts until you have taken and passed Step 3. If you request them before you have passed the exam, the Federation of State Medical Boards will send only what they have on record (Step 1 and Step 2).

There is a partial reimbursement program for medical board licensing fees and the Step 3 fees.  Be sure to keep all receipts and send to Vivian, once you have paid your fees.   The reimbursement amounts for 2017-2018 are: $702.79 (license) and $649.81 (step 3).



Getting your DEA license:

Getting your DEA is actually relatively easy. You can either do the online application or you can do it the old-fashioned way and print out the PDF, fill it in and mail it.

One tip:

  • Do not pay the fee! As a resident you are exempt. If you do pay it, you cannot get a refund later. The “certifying official” can be your program director (e.g Harry, Sharad, Kathy).
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