Board of Medicine

Board Overview

The 21st General Assembly created the State Board of Medical Examiners in 1886 to license physicians and regulate the practice of medicine. Initially, the board issued licenses to several classes of physicians, including medical (M.D.), homeopaths, and eclectics. The board did not issue licenses for osteopath physicians until 1902. In 1921, the 39th General Assembly created a separate board to license and regulate osteopathic physicians. In 1963, the 60th General Assembly abolished the osteopathic board and redefined the State Board of Medical Examiners, making it a composite board for licensure of medical physicians (M.D.s) and osteopathic physicians (D.O.s). In 2007 the 81st General Assembly changed the board’s name to the Board of Medicine.

Since 1994, the board has licensed and regulated acupuncturists.

Over the past 125 years, the board has directly or indirectly been responsible for licensure of other health care providers, including nurses, advanced emergency medical technicians, paramedics and physician assistants. All of these professions are now licensed and regulated by their own boards.

In 1996, the legislature authorized the board to establish the Iowa Physician Health Committee, which administers a program for monitoring the recovery and/or rehabilitation of impaired physicians.

The board regulates the practice of medicine and surgery and acupuncture under the authority of Iowa Code chapters 147, 148, 148E and agency No. 653 (Board of Medicine) in the Iowa Administrative Code.  The board has significant authority over licensees, establishing regulations by proposing legislation or adopting administrative rules. Correspondingly, the board is charged with enforcing these rules and laws to protect the public from licensees who do not practice medicine and acupuncture within prevailing and acceptable standards of the practices of medicine and acupuncture. The board also issues cease and desist notices to persons who practice medicine and/or acupuncture without a board-issued license.

The board is an executive branch agency within the Iowa Department of Public Health.  The board’s office and administrative staff are located at 400 SW Eighth Street, Suite C, Des Moines, Iowa 50309. The board’s Executive Committee appoints an executive director to administer the agency.

The board does not receive a General Fund appropriation. It is funded solely with the fees collected from its licensees. Click here to see the current fiscal year spending plan.

Board Members

The board is composed of 10 members:  five practicing M.D.s, two practicing D.O.s, and three members of the public. State law requires that five members be male and five be female. No more than five members may be affiliated with the same political party. Board members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Iowa Senate for a full three-year term or to complete the unexpired term of a member who resigned. Board members may serve up to nine years.

Board members who are appointed to a three-year (full) term begin serving on May 1.  Those who are appointed to complete an unexpired term begin serving at the time of the appointment.

The board elects a chairperson, vice chairperson and a secretary at its last regularly scheduled meeting before May 1. The chairperson assigns board members to committees and selects the chairperson for each committee.

If you would like to serve on the board, please contact the governor’s staff member in charge of appointments at (515) 281-0215, or click here.

Click here for more information about the current board members.

For a list of Board members from 1886-present, click here.

Alternate Board Members

The board may have 10 alternate members, including members licensed to practice medicine in Iowa and public members, to substitute for regular board members who are disqualified or become unavailable for any other reason for contested case hearings. An alternate member is deemed a member of the board only for the hearing panel for which the alternate member serves. The board may recommend, subject to approval by the governor, up to 10 people to serve in a pool of alternate members. The length of time an alternate member may serve in the pool shall not exceed nine years.

For more information about the responsibilities of an alternate member, see Iowa Code chapter 148.2, click here

For information about current alternate board members, click here.

Board Responsibilities

The board safeguards the public health, safety and welfare by:

Board Meetings and Structure

Every eight weeks the board meets for two days at its Des Moines office.  The focus of the meetings is policy making and decision making about licensure and discipline.  Teleconferences are held between regularly scheduled board meetings to discuss timely matters and issues.

Board meetings are open to the public. However, portions of the meetings may be closed pursuant to applicable Iowa law.  Meeting agendas are posted on the board’s website and at the board’s office about two weeks before each regularly scheduled meeting and 24 hours prior to a teleconference call.  Click here for meeting dates. Click here if you would like to be notified of meeting agendas.

Press releases about the board’s administrative and regulatory work are posted on the board’s website.  Click here if you would like to be notified by e-mail when new press releases are posted.

Board Committees

Committees comprised of board members are used to facilitate the board’s work at meetings.

Executive Committee

The board’s elected officers (chairperson, vice chairperson, and secretary) and two members appointed by the chairperson serve on the Executive Committee. The committee guides and supervises the board’s executive director, reviews the budget and makes recommendations to the board, and recommends administrative rules, legislative proposals, and other policy positions.  For information about current members of the Executive Committee, click here.

Licensure Committee

The Licensure Committee recommends to the board appropriate action on completed applications for licensure.  The committee may interview applicants and review licensure examination matters. For information about current members of the Licensure Committee, click here.

Monitoring Committee

The Monitoring Committee oversees the monitoring of physicians and acupuncturists with board disciplinary orders and recommends actions to the full board on these matters. For information about current members of the Monitoring Committee, click here.

Screening Committee

The Screening Committee receives complaints that a staff committee has recommended for review and closure and determines if investigation or case closure should be recommended to the board. For more information about current members of the Screening Committee, click here.

Board Memberships

Administrators in Medicine – The board is a member of Administrators in Medicine (AIM), a nonprofit national organization for executive directors of state medical and osteopathic boards. The mission of AIM is to assist and support administrators for medical licensing and regulatory authorities to achieve administrative excellence and ultimately advance public safety.  Click here to learn more about AIM.

Federation of State Medical Boards – The board is a member of the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), which represents the 70 state medical and osteopathic regulatory boards within the United States, its territories and the District of Columbia. The FSMB, a nonprofit corporation, supports its member boards as they fulfill their mandate of protecting the public’s health, safety and welfare through the proper licensing, disciplining, and regulation of physicians. Click here to learn more about the FSMB.  

Federation of State Physician Health Programs – The board is a member of the Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP). The nonprofit corporation provides a forum for education and exchange of information among state programs addressing physician health and impairment. Click here to learn more about the FSPHP.

Interstate Medical Licensure Compact – The board is a member of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, which expedites the licensing process for qualified physicians and reduces barriers to obtaining licensure in multiple states and jurisdictions. The compact is administered by a commission which has two representatives from each participating state.  Iowa’s commissioners are the board’s executive director and the chair of the licensure committee. Click here to learn more about the compact.

Board Data

At the end of the calendar year and the end of the fiscal year, the board gathers statistics on its overall operations.  Click here for the latest data on licensure, enforcement, and the Iowa Physician Health Program.

Peer Review

The board may establish a peer review committee comprised of one or more physicians to evaluate the professional services rendered by an M.D. or D.O., who is under investigation.  Likewise, the board may establish such a committee of licensed acupuncturists if the professional services of a licensed acupuncturist are being investigated. 

A professional who is interested in serving as a peer reviewer may contact the board's medical advisor, John Olds, M.D., at (515) 242-3229.

Click here to view the Peer Review Manual.

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