Updated August 4, 2021

This American Medical Association (AMA) guide includes information for physicians and health care professionals who want to support communities severely impacted by COVID-19. It tells how and where to volunteer—and things to consider before registering.

For state agencies and institutions, the guide includes information on third-party organizations that can identify and match volunteers accordingly as well as resources for credentialing in an emergency.

Featured updates: COVID-19

Track the evolving situation with the AMA's library of the most up-to-date resources from JAMA, CDC and WHO.


In addition to state volunteer opportunities, there are also opportunities to volunteer at a nonprofit or free clinic, such as The MAVEN Project and Volunteers in Medicine.

This nonprofit organization specializes in connecting volunteer physicians to underserved clinics and frontline providers via telehealth to enhance local care capacity. The MAVEN Project aggregates physician volunteers for deployment in areas of greatest need—including at the state level—to support COVID-19 response efforts.

With 91 free clinics in 30 states Volunteers in Medicine is working diligently during the pandemic crisis to provide care, in-person and via telemedicine, to more than 100,00 patients. These nonprofit clinics are modeled after the original Volunteers in Medicine Clinic in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Many states have temporarily relaxed licensure requirements related to physicians who are licensed in another state, retired or clinically inactive. This includes waiving licensure requirements or offering a temporary expedited license for out-of-state or retired physicians. Many, but not all, of these measures apply to physicians providing telemedicine across state lines.

The Federation of State Medical Boards is tracking executive orders related to licensure and providing details on licensing inactive or retired physicians who wish to become active during the pandemic. Please contact your state board of medicine or department of health for up-to-the minute information.

The AMA is extending access to its Physician Profile service to all state medical licensing boards and eligible state and federal agencies verifying physician credentials in response to COVID-19. If you are a medical licensing board, learn how to set up your account (PDF). If you are a state or federal agency, contact the AMA at [email protected].

As state leaders call for additional health care personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to have an up-to-date view of the student and physician workforce landscape. Leveraging the AMA Physician Masterfile and other authoritative data sources, we have created a snapshot of the national workforce picture (PDF).

Senior/retired physicians

The AMA has curated a selection of resources to provide guidance to senior and retired physicians who may wish to return to work or are called upon to do so during the COVID-19 outbreak. This resource includes guidance on licensing, providing assistance that does not involve direct patient care, re-entering practice, managing professional liability and consideration of retirement status.

Medical students

Medical students who are considering volunteer roles should review the guiding principles developed by the AMA Council on Medical Education. These guiding principles were created to support and protect learners responding to COVID-19.

Medical staff

Under Joint Commission Standard MS.02.02.13, “The organization may grant disaster privileges to volunteers eligible to be licensed independent practitioners.” The Elements of Performance for MS.02.02.13 call for the medical staff to describe in writing the responsibilities of the individuals responsible for granting disaster privileges, and permit disaster privileges to be granted on the presentation of a valid government-issued picture identification issued by a state or federal agency in all cases with at least one other credential. While these requirements may appear minimal, the standard provides that verification of credentials is to be pursued on a priority basis as soon as possible. The Joint Commission website includes sample language covering what is required to grant privileges to volunteer licensing independent practitioners in an emergency or disaster situation.

The National Association for Medical Staff Services (NAMSS) is monitoring the evolving COVID-19 pandemic and is committed to serving the medical services profession. The NAMSS guide for medical staff professionals includes topics such as the emergency system for advanced registration of volunteer health professionals and more.

The AMA has curated a series of articles the offer foundational guidance in medical ethics for health care professionals and institutions responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Measures created to address the rapidly evolving pubic emergency caused by COVID-19 have raised concern about the potential liability of physicians and other health care professionals. Review the list of liability protections for health care professionals that are currently in effect, as well as other activities underway.


Disclaimer: The information and guidance provided in this document is believed to be current and accurate at the time of posting. This information is not intended to be, and should not be construed to be or relied upon as, legal or medical advice. References and links to third parties do not constitute an endorsement, sponsorship or warranty by the AMA, and the AMA hereby disclaims all express and implied warranties of any kind.

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