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Licensure compacts: A way to increase licensure portability

Where do you see yourself living in five years? How about 10 or 20 years?

As a dentist, the answer to this question could be impacted by your ability to get licensed.

If you choose to move to a different licensing jurisdiction from the one in which you were initially licensed, you will need to apply for a new license. Many states do have a licensure-by-credentials process by which currently licensed professionals can apply for a new license. Although many states have a similar list of core requirements that must be met, there are nuances, and the process can be lengthy and expensive.

Why does this matter to you?

Unless you have the next 30-40 years of your professional and personal life planned out, you may end up moving and be required to get a new license in a different jurisdiction in order to keep practicing.

We live in an increasingly mobile society. According to the ADA’s Health Policy Institute, about one in 13 dentists moved to a different state between 2015 and 2020. Among dentists aged 40 or younger, about one in six migrated across state lines during the same period. Dentists who are civilian spouses of those serving in the military move frequently and may be forced to pursue and maintain multiple licenses, which can put undue stress on the support system of our military. Academia is a highly mobile profession and, often, dentist faculty cross state lines to pursue employment. Sometimes, volunteer efforts can be restricted based on the ability of dental professionals to get licensure by credentials.

A new opportunity

The U.S. Department of Defense is providing funding to the Council of State Governments (CSG) to assist professionals in the development of new interstate compacts for occupational licensure portability.  Because the ADA’s Comprehensive Policy on Dental Licensure calls for state dental boards to consider participating in licensure compacts and establishing a common core of credentials for granting licensure,  the ADA’s Council on Dental Education and Licensure submitted an application for assistance from CSG. This application was supported by many dental communities of interest, including ASDA, American Dental Education Association, American Dental Hygienists’ Association, the Coalition for Modernizing Dental Licensure, Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations and the Association of Dental Support Organizations.

We are proud to announce that the Department of Defense selected the professions of dentistry and dental hygiene to receive technical assistance from CSG to develop model interstate compact legislation. CSG hosted a webinar in August 2021 that provided a more in-depth discussion of compacts and an overview of the development process, which will take place over the next few years. Click here to watch the recording.

Looking forward

Back to the question — where do you see yourself in five, 10, 20 years? Although professional mobility may not be your priority right now, consider the positive impact a licensure compact could have on your career over the next few decades. I encourage you to stay involved in organized dentistry and get involved in licensure reform. It’s your future!


Dr. Jacqueline Plemons is the chair of the ADA Council on Dental Education and Licensure and past president of the Texas Dental Association. A graduate of the Baylor College of Dentistry, she completed a periodontal residency earning a Master of Science in oral biology and a certificate in periodontics. Dr. Plemons also has completed a fellowship in oral medicine. 

This blog post was sponsored by the American Dental Association.

American Dental Association

The American Dental Association (ADA) powers the profession of dentistry to advance the overall oral health of the public. Our vision is to empower the dental profession to achieve optimal health for all. Members of ASDA are also student members of the ADA. Learn more at ADA.org/student.

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