The Department of Transportation (DOT), a division of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), requires all job applicants to complete and pass a medical examination before an employer can formally offer them a job. All drivers must schedule a new exam with a medical examiner every 24 months as a condition of their ongoing employment. The doctor completing the exam can issue the medical certificate for less than 24 months if he or she feels it necessary to monitor a specific health condition.
Who can perform the required medical exam?
The DOT requires that current drivers and driver applicants visit a medical doctor (MD), doctor of chiropractic (DC), advanced practice nurse (APN), physician assistant (PA), or doctor of osteopathy (DO). All drivers must select a doctor from a medical examiner listed on the FMCSA National Registry. The doctor completing the exam will complete a Medical Examiner’s Certificate and provide copies to the driver and to the FMCSA.
How to locate a medical examiner to meet FMCSA requirements
In May 2014, the FMCSA passed a regulation that requires drivers to obtain their medical examination from a provider listed on its National Registry. The purpose of the requirement is to improve public safety by ensuring that drivers receive a medical exam consistent with its stringent guidelines.
What to expect with a DOT medical exam
It can be stressful for new drivers and those with a chronic medical condition to go to the doctor because this person determines if they qualify for a commercial driver’s license (CDL). However, most of the stress comes from not knowing what to expect.
As with all medical appointments, the doctor begins by asking several questions about past and current health history. It’s critical for drivers to be honest here to protect both themselves and the public. If a driver later causes an accident due to a medical condition he or she tried to hide, the other party may file a personal injury lawsuit against both driver and employer. Other things to expect during the DOT medical exam include:
- Doctor to check for indications of specific medical issues
- Providing a urine sample to check for signs of disease, not drug use
- A vision test
- A hernia test
- A hearing test that requires the examiner to use the whisper method. This involves the doctor standing approximately five feet away, the patient covering one ear and turning the other towards the examiner, and the examiner stating random words or numbers in a whispered tone. Drivers who fail this portion of the exam typically take an audiometric hearing test instead.
Not passing one portion of the exam doesn’t automatically mean the patient is ineligible for a CDL. He or she may need to take a skills test pertaining to that specific area before receiving clearance to drive commercially.
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