As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, the mental health of the healthcare workforce is widely reported as worsening. Despite increased attention, barriers to seeking mental health care remain high. Physicians, for example, are often required to divulge details about their mental health history on medical license applications ostensibly in service of patient safety. While there is no published evidence that these questions improve patient safety, there is ample evidence that asking such questions on medical license applications can deter physicians from seeking care due to risks to their privacy, reputation and employment.
As a result, the Federation of State Medical Boards, a national organization that advises state medical boards, developed detailed recommendations regarding how medical boards should and should not ask questions about mental health on medical licensing applications. Despite widespread agreement with these recommendations, few states and territories have meaningfully adopted them. Further, unlike state medical boards—which receive guidance