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A Better Partnership
August 24, 2015

COA holds there is no right to a limited medical license for individuals denied access to postgraduate residency program

Does an individual who has completed medical school in a foreign country and who has been denied entrance into a domestic residency program have the right to a limited license to practice medicine?  This is the issue the Court of Appeals considered in Murphy-Dubay v. Department of Licensing & Regulatory Affairs, Nos. 321380, 321749.  The Court held that under Michigan’s Public Health Code, MCL § 333.16182, there is no right to a limited license.  The Court further held that the limited license sought by plaintiff did not exist and that therefore he could not be said to have been “denied” a license and was not entitled to a hearing.
Plaintiff Nathan Murphy-Dubay attended Saba University School of Medicine in the Netherland Antilles.  He completed two years of coursework followed by two years of clinical rotations through a Canadian University.  After his clinical rotations, plaintiff returned to Michigan and began seeking entrance into postgraduate clinical training programs but was unable to secure a position.  Plaintiff submitted an application to the defendants, the Department of Licensing & Regulatory Affairs, on a form he himself created, seeking a “limited license” to practice medicine within the State of Michigan pursuant to MCL § 333.16182(1).  After not receiving a response to his application, plaintiff sent defendants a follow-up letter asking for a favorable response, or in the event of a denial, for a hearing on the issue.
Ultimately, plaintiff filed a complaint for a writ of mandamus and declaratory judgment seeking an order directing defendants to take action on his application and entry of a judgment declaring the rights of the parties regarding medical licensure under applicable constitutional, statutory, and administrative law.  The Bureau of Health Care Services sent plaintiff a letter explaining that the board of medicine does not issue limited licenses to individuals upon request and that limited licenses are typically issued for a group of licensees who either have restrictions to the location in which they may physically practice or for disciplinary purposes.  Additionally, the letter explained that MCL § 333.16232 does not authorize a hearing for someone whose education or training does not meet the requirements for licensure as a physician.
Defendants filed a motion for summary disposition, which was granted, and plaintiff appealed.  On appeal, plaintiff brought forth a multitude of statutory and constitutional arguments; however, the Court specifically denied each of these arguments and affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary disposition.  The Court held that the Public Health Code invested in the various medical boards broad discretion with respect to the licensing of applicants to practice medicine and did not, as plaintiff asserts, unambiguously provide that a board grant a limited license to practice medicine to someone in plaintiff’s particular situation.  The Court further held that plaintiff was not the victim of a regulatory taking because he did not have a vested property right.  Because defendants did not actually deny plaintiff a license, but rather informed plaintiff that the limited license he sought did not exist and was not authorized by statute or rules, rejected his self-made application for the non-existent license, and refunded his money, this was not a denial of a license and he had no right to a hearing on the issue.

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