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. Since 2019, the board has licensed and regulated genetic counselors.
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, acupuncture and genetic counseling under the authority of Iowa Code chapters 147, 148, 148E, 148H 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, acupuncture and genetic counseling 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 and genetic counseling 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 does not receive a General Fund appropriation. It is funded solely with the fees collected from its licensees. View the current fiscal year spending plan.
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 visit https://talentbank.iowa.gov/.
Check out more information about the current board members.
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.
Check out more information about the responsibilities of an alternate member, see Iowa Code chapter 148.2.
View more information about current alternate board members.
The board safeguards the public health, safety and welfare by:
- Licensing qualified physicians, acupuncturists and genetic counselors;
- Investigating complaints against physicians, acupuncturists and genetic counselors, establishing peer review committees, taking corrective action, and monitoring those under board order;
- Operating a program for physicians, acupuncturists and genetic counselors with an impairment;
- Defining the scope of medical, acupuncture and genetic counseling practices;
- Working cooperatively with certain other agencies, e.g., Board of Physician Assistants, Board of Pharmacy; and
- Operating within specified limitations, e.g., public meetings law, public records law, and the waiver and variance law.
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. View meeting dates. Sign up to be notified of meeting agendas.
Press releases about the board’s administrative and regulatory work are posted on the board’s website. Sign up to be notified by e-mail when new press releases are posted.
Committees comprised of board members are used to facilitate the board’s work at meetings.
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. Check out more information about current members of the Executive 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. Check out more information about current members of the Licensure 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. Check out more information about current members of the Monitoring 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. Check out more information about current members of the Screening Committee.
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. 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. 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. 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. Learn more about the compact.
At the end of the calendar year and the end of the fiscal year, the board gathers statistics on its overall operations. View the latest data on licensure, enforcement, and the Iowa Physician Health Program on our report page under Annual Reports.
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, at (515) 242-3229.
View the Peer Review Manual.
Location and Directions
The map below is a link to Google maps. You can enter your current location and get driving directions to the office.