The Medical Board of California’s physician license application asks about "unusual circumstances" in both medical school and during residency.  These questions can be a trap for the unwary.  First off, the applicant sends forms to the medical school and residency program(s) which have identical "unusual circumstances" questions.  The program or school responds directly to the Medical Board.  Expect the program to be thorough, honest and candid. Therefore, any type of investigation, discipline, probation or leave of absence must be disclosed and explained on the physician’s license application to match the program’s answers.  The only exception would be if some sort of incident was disposed of in an entirely informal way without any break in study/work or effect upon study/work, and only then if the applicant is 100% sure that the school or program would never disclose the event in any circumstances.  If your program checks "yes" and you check "no", the Board assumes applicant dishonesty until they are persuaded, or a judge finds otherwise.

Another issue is that even if the "yes" answers acknowledging "unusual circumstances" match on both the application and the L2 returned from the medical school or the L3 returned from the residency program, the school or program director must send a letter explaining the "unusual circumstances".   The applicant must also send in an explanation of the "unusual circumstances" with the application.  If the applicant’s explanation is inaccurate or misleading because it significantly fails to match the program’s explanation, the Board may view that as dishonesty, the same as if the applicant failed to answer "yes" acknowledging an adverse event.

It is a good idea for medical students or residents who have suffered from an adverse action or have taken a leave of absence to ask their program for the program’s records of the action.  At the time of license application, this information can be used to draft an accurate disclosure.  If the program’s disclosure differs, the source documents can be cited.

California has a well-earned reputation as a tough state for professional licensing.  The questions posed on the application are far more detailed and thorough than most other states.  The best course of action is to seek legal counsel experienced with the application to ensure that full, accurate disclosures are made.