The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires training and testing on the physical qualification standards and guidelines to become a Department of Transportation (DOT) certified medical examiner (ME.) You must complete a free course every five years through the FMCSA, which you can access through your National Registry Account. Additionally, you need to recertify every ten years. Because of delays with the five-year and ten-year training, the recertification process didn’t open on schedule. There are a lot of questions about the recertification process this year. Here are the main things you should know:
1. Your Medical License Needs To Be Up To Date
Before you start the recertification process, you must still be licensed, certified, or registered in accordance with applicable state laws and regulations to perform physical examinations. The FMCSA will verify this with the appropriate state licensing board for your specific license. Check your account with your state board to ensure you don’t need to renew your professional license before starting the DOT recertification process.
Suppose you have had any changes to your license or scope of practice that could affect your DOT ME certification. In that case, you must report it within 30 days to the FMCSA, or they could suspend you from performing certification examinations.
2. Recertifying Is Nearly The Same As Your Initial Certification
While your initial certification is a distant memory from 10 years ago, your recertification is almost identical. Here’s a quick refresher: You must complete online or live recertification training first. A nationally-recognized medical profession accrediting organization must accredit the course to provide continuing education units and meet the FMCSA core curriculum. An online or live training course will fulfill your training, but you will not be able to submit the certificate until January 1, 2023.
Next, login into your National Registry Account to upload your proof of training completion. Once that is processed, you can contact Prometric or PSI, the two FMCSA-approved testing organizations, to schedule your recertification test.
3. You Can Begin Recertification Training and Testing in 2023
If your DOT medical examiner certification has expired or you will be in your ninth year as a certified examiner, you are eligible for recertification training and testing. Training courses and testing dates will be available starting on January 1, 2023. Because FMCSA did not make the recertification process available this year, there will be many medical examiners seeking recertification in 2023. We recommend starting this process as early as possible to avoid scheduling conflicts. Starting early will also allow you plenty of time to take or retake the test.
4. You Can Recertify When You Reach The Nine-Year Mark
While recertification training starts in January 2023, not all medical examiners will be eligible for training in January. You can begin the process as soon as you enter your ninth year as a certified examiner. For example, if your certification expires in March of 2024, you can start training and register for an exam as early as March 2023. Those whose certification expired in 2022 will also be able to take part in the recertification process beginning in 2023.
5. You Have A Full Year To Complete Your Recertification
Because you can start your recertification training and schedule an exam as soon as you enter your ninth year of certification, you will have a full year to complete the requirements. This ensures you have plenty of time to register for a training course, get an exam date, and retake the test, if needed, before your certification expires. It does take time, though, so don’t wait until the last minute to start this process.
6. Expired Certifications Are Good Until 2024
Because of the delay in periodic training, the FMCSA is providing a grace period during which they will not take action against your certification for not completing the required training and passing your certification test within the allotted ten years. They will not consider you in noncompliance until after December 31, 2023. However, if you have not completed the recertification requirements and your certification expires at the end of 2023, the FMCSA will remove you from the national registry.
You may have already received notice that your certification has expired, or you will see that warning when you log in to your National Registry user profile. This won’t prevent you from using the National Registry system or performing physical qualification examinations. The FMCSA wants to ensure you still have a full year to complete your recertification. Take advantage of the opening date of January 1, 2023, to have the entire year to comply.
7. You Don’t Have To Wait 30 Days To Retake If You Fail
Unlike your initial certification, if you fail your exam, you can retake the test the next day if you choose. If your certificate hasn’t expired, the FMCSA won’t remove you from the National Registry. You will also be allowed to perform DOT physicals until you pass your exam or your certification expires. If you don’t complete your recertification requirements before it expires, except those expiring in 2023, you will lose your certification status, and the FMCSA will remove you from the registry.
Whether your DOT ME certification has expired or expires in 2023, the key takeaway is that you have time to get everything in order. You have until the end of 2023 to complete everything to comply. However, we recommend beginning the process as soon as possible after you ring in the new year. With many other practitioners needing to recertify next year, classes are likely to be in high demand. Plus, the sooner you finish the training and take the examination, the more time you have to retest if needed.