The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires commercial drivers to have routine physicals to ensure they are healthy enough to drive without endangering themselves or the public. A variety of healthcare professionals can administer these exams.
However, to become a DOT medical examiner, you must meet specific requirements. Only certain medical professionals can become a medical examiner. Individuals must take a training course, then register with the Federal Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and take the national test. Once you pass, the FMCSA will review your application before issuing your certification. The DOT standardized its physicals to ensure stricter safety guidelines, reducing highway accidents and fatalities.
1. Why Become A Certified DOT Medical Examiner?
Every DOT commercial driver needs a physical every two years at a minimum. According to the FMCSA, that means at least three million drivers need a DOT physical examination annually. Because of the certification process, the pool of providers for DOT exams is relatively small compared to the yearly number of exams needed.
Additionally, DOT physicals are self-pay which means avoiding the nuisance of dealing with insurance companies. You get to set your own fee. If you have your own practice or work independently, the medical examiner certification will increase your client load and practice revenue.
You also have the versatility to establish a separate business providing DOT exams if you wish. More work settings are accessible such as working at a transportation company, occupational health center, or government agency. You have more agency to shape your career according to your goals and preferences.
Beyond career and monetary motivation, you get to promote public health and safety. You gain more fulfillment playing a crucial role in commercial vehicle operations. Your job reduces avoidable accidents and makes the road a safer place for all.
2. Who Is Qualified To Become A Certified Medical Examiner?
You must have medical training and a valid license, certificate, or registration with your state of residence’s licensing board. You’re eligible if you are one of the following:
- Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO), Nurse Practitioner (NP) or Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APN/APRN), Physician Assistant (PA)
- Chiropractor (except in Michigan, New York, and Washington)
- Naturopathic Doctor
- Registered Nurse (only in Colorado)
- Doctor of Oriental Medicine (only in New Mexico)
- Acupuncturists (only in Florida)
- Doctor of Physical Therapy (in Arkansas, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Texas)
3. What’s The Difference Between Medical Practitioners And DOT Examiners?
As a licensed healthcare practitioner, you have a specific scope of practice and role in treating your patients’ overall health. If your medical license includes assessment, diagnosis, and treatments, you are typically eligible to be a DOT examiner. But you must complete additional certification, and the role is different.
Training as a certified medical examiner prepares you to assess commercial drivers’ physical and mental fitness. You review the patient’s medical history and perform physicals to establish if they meet the DOT’s medical standards. This is to maintain safety on the road while operating commercial vehicles.
4. What Training Is Required?
Like other certifications, such as your Basic Life Support card, you must take a training class. You must complete an accredited National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (NRCME) course. It can be an online, in-person, or hybrid learning environment. Search online for a “DOT medical examiner training near me” to find accredited courses in your area.
The program should cover FMCSA regulations, guidelines, and medical standards you must follow. Once you receive a certificate of completion, you can register with the FMCSA. They will issue you a unique 10-digit National Registry number to register for your examination.
Like sitting for your state licensing exams, you will take a standardized test at a testing organization. Current providers are Prometric and PSI. You will have two hours to answer 120 questions on the information outlined in your training. To pass, you must get 71% or higher. If you don’t, you can retake the test the following day if desired.
Once you pass, the FMCSA will review your application and issue your certification status. You cannot perform DOT exams until you receive the official certificate.
5. How Long Does The DOT Medical Examiner’s Certificate Last?
The certificate is valid for ten years. You must take a free online five-year periodic training (refresher) course. The FMCSA expects you to stay updated with its guidelines and regulations between your exams and refresher courses. You must also retake your certification training and exam every ten years. Additionally, you must maintain the medical license, following your state licensing board’s continuing education and renewal guidelines.
If you’re passionate about public safety, becoming a certified DOT examiner can be a rewarding career opportunity. You can utilize your medical knowledge and passion to make a difference in the transportation industry.