Training and certification required to perform commercial driver exams

Truck drivers will soon be required to obtain required physical examinations from medical professionals who are listed on a National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (NRCME).

The long-awaited Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requirement is intended to improve transportation safety by verifying a high level of competency among examiners who are willing to take the steps necessary to become registered.

After almost a year-and-a-half wait, the Final Rule was published in the Federal Register on April 20, 2012. Once the May 21, 2014, compliance date is reached, all commercial motor vehicle operators who are required to meet FMCSA medical standards must be examined by a medical professional listed on the registry.

Training and testing organizations will soon be able to register on the NRCME site. The first exams will be offered later this summer, possibly as soon as Aug. 20. Examiners may be physicians or other health care providers licensed by their state practice act to perform examinations. The law does not change who is eligible to perform the examinations, and there are no exemptions from the training and testing requirements for examiners with professional certifications and/or extensive experience in CMV driver exams.

The FMCSA will not approve training organizations. However, it will dictate the specific core curriculum. Training organizations must be accredited by a nationally recognized medical profession accrediting organization to provide continuing education units. Training can be provided through traditional classroom methods, self-paced learning or a combination of modalities.

Testing organization will need to apply and be approved by the FMCSA and will need to follow very specific criteria for test administration. The examination will be provided by the FMCSA. Testing will be completed in person at designated locations or online, with online testing subject to specific security and privacy requirements. Examinees who fail the test will only be allowed to re-take the examination once every 30 days and must take it no more than three years after completing the training.

Examiners will be required to take refresher training every five years (offered at no cost through the FMCSA) and to re-certify every 10 years. Training and testing will be required for each examiner in a clinic or office. There is no requirement for training of ancillary staff but no prohibition against having them trained.

After the NRCME is implemented, examiners will be required to submit the name of the examinee and other information to the FMCSA Chief Medical Examiner on a monthly basis. This information would be submitted regardless of whether the driver passes the medical examination. Examiners will be required to provide copies of requested Medical Examination Reports and medical examiner certificates to FMCSA or to authorized federal, state and local enforcement agency personnel within 48 hours of the request.

A new Medical Examiners Certificate published in the Final Rule must be used by May 21, 2014. The new certificate includes information such as the examiner’s NRCME number and whether the driver is exclusively involved in intrastate operations.

For examiners who do not comply with the requirements of the NRCME, there is an involuntary process for removal from the registry. There is also a process to voluntarily be removed.

The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) will offer an expanded version of its Commercial Driver Medical Examiner course to meet the NRCME requirements. The live one-day course will be supplemented by pre- and post-read material and extensive supplemental resources. The first course will be held in Chicago July 20, with subsequent courses to be held in Philadelphia, Atlanta and Los Angeles. Course dates and locations for 2013 are pending. Online training will be available beginning in August. ACOEM also will provide training to non-examiners who would like to familiarize themselves with the requirements

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