The rule of thumb used to be that doctors and medical professionals could only practice in the state where they were licensed. There were exceptions sometimes for emergency situations, but most doctors had no authority to cross state lines without a new license.

That’s not always true these days. In 2015, seven states joined the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC). This agreement allows doctors who are properly licensed in one participating state to practice in other participating states.

The program has expanded since then. Recent reports show that 22 states are now part of it. Others are working to join, getting the legislation started. The IMLC continues to grow and allows doctors to have more options than they did previously.

What is the goal? What does the IMLC hope to accomplish? It’s not just about giving doctors options. It also helps those who live in rural America, an area that is often underserved by medical professionals. They can get the help and treatment that they need.

That said, doctors and nurses must remember that this new trend does not yet apply to the majority of states. Ohio is one of the states that has not joined the IMLC, along with Texas, California, New Jersey, Florida and others. Practicing across borders without a proper license is still illegal and can have serious ramifications.

Those who face allegations of breaking these certification rules need to know what legal options they have. The same is true for others who face criminal charges and could lose that all-important medical license that allows them to practice at all.