The ACRONYM physical exam: DOT for FMCSA by NRCME

Are you a truck driver with a CDL (commercial driver license)? One necessary step is to get a DOT medical exam.

Why do I need a special exam?

Several years ago, the Department of Transportation (DOT) decided that drivers should meet certain physical requirements to drive. Then the DOT determined that not all DOT/CDL exams are equal. 

This decision eventually morphed into a government entity that determines who gets to perform these exams. The name of this group is the NRCME (National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners). The NRCME: 1) developed a training; 2) certified trainers for this training; 3) developed a really intense exam for these examiners to pass; and 4) developed a website listing all the providers who have successfully completed the credentialed examiners.

This ended up making it harder for the CDL (or potential) holder to get or renew their medical certificate. They had to search for providers and wait a bit longer for appointments.

All of Worker Care’s medical providers are listed on the NRCME registry as certified medical examiners, which means we can get you in for an exam quickly. 

What are you looking at?

DOT exams look at the following: height, weight, hearing, vision, pulse, blood pressure, urine (looking for certain markers like protein, sugar, etc.), medical history, current medications, and overall health.

Do I need to have a primary care provider? 

We can perform the DOT medical exam even if you don’t have regular checkups with a primary care provider (PCP). However, we always recommend that you have a PCP to help keep you healthy and deal with any chronic conditions before they become uncontrolled.

How do I prepare for the exam?

If you have any current medical issues–recent surgeries, prescribed medications, or things that require regular medical checkups–explain to the specialist and/or PCP that you are going to a DOT exam and need a note clearing you to drive. 

If you have diabetes, there is special paperwork that needs to be filled out BEFORE the exam. What’s the difference between the Federal and State certificates?

Sometimes CDL holders only drive their hauls (people or cargo) within the borders of Washington state. This may mean they only require an intrastate certification.

Intrastate drivers will still need the same exam performed by examiners listed on the NRCME website. Intrastate is more restrictive than an interstate medical certificate, so if the driver is qualified, we use the least restrictive certificate unless: 1) the driver does not qualify to drive as an interstate driver; and/or 2) the driver specifically requests in intrastate medical certificate only.

Why didn’t I get 2 year certificate? 

Each time you have a CDL/DOT physical exam, the maximum length of certification is 2 years. You may be medically certified to drive for 2 years if you have no current or emerging health issues and pass the minimum vision and hearing requirements.

Unfortunately, there are several reasons for which the medical certificate may be granted for less time or even denied completely. Some common reasons for not being certified for 2 years include heart issues, vision issues, diabetes and diabetes-related issues, and emerging medical problems.  If the medical examiner has detected a medical issue but feels the driver is safe to drive with more frequent check-ups (for example, every 6 months), then she or he will issue a certificate for less than two years. This means the driver will need to repeat the exam before the certificate is expired. 

If, however, there is a known issue and the examiner requires a bit more documentation from a specialist or the driver’s regular medical provider, the driver may be issued an extension for the driver to gather the requested paperwork. Once the medical examiner has the paperwork (provided it is returned before the extension expires), the driver will either be issued a medical certificate or disqualified.

I don’t like the results of my exam. Can I get a refund?

These medical exams are measures of your current health. Just as with any other medical exam, no matter how much (or little) you pay us, we cannot change your current health status. Likewise, we can’t guarantee you will get the results you want.

Driving is tough. It’s even harder if you are unhealthy. 

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