In order to obtain a commercial driver’s license, which allows you to operate certain vehicles such as big trucks or busses, you must first pass a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical exam. The professionals on our staff at Apex Medical Center are happy to offer DOT exams.
If you’ve never had a DOT physical or it’s been a long time since your last one, you may be wondering what to expect. This post explains what to expect, as well as who is qualified to perform the exam and why it’s necessary.
Who performs DOT physicals?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) maintains a national registry of medical professionals who are licensed to perform DOT exams. Those professionals must be medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, physician assistants, advanced practice registered nurses, or doctors of chiropractic.
Why is the physical necessary?
Commercial driver’s licenses are for specialized vehicles, including those that weigh more than 10,000 pounds, carry hazardous materials, or carry more than five passengers. To obtain a CDL, you’re required to undergo training in addition to having a DOT physical exam.
The exam is to make sure that you’re physically capable of meeting the demands of operating a commercial vehicle safely. Professional drivers often face challenges such as intense schedules, long periods of sitting in one position, as well as emotional stressors.
What happens during the exam?
First, you fill out a detailed medical history. There are questions about any medications you take, surgeries you’ve had, whether you smoke, drink, or use other substances, any symptoms or conditions you currently have, as well as other questions.
During the physical exam itself, we’ll check your hearing and vision, take your blood pressure, and check additional vital signs and indicators of your overall health. After that, we’ll take a urine sample to check your blood sugar levels and to make sure you don’t use illegal drugs.
We may also draw blood or perform other tests such as an electrocardiogram. All of these tests are to make sure that you’re physically fit enough to drive a commercial vehicle safely.
How often do you need a DOT physical?
Most of the time, your physical exam results are good for two years. In some circumstances, you may need to have a physical exam more frequently.
For example, if you have certain conditions like diabetes or hypertension, you may need to have an annual physical exam. If you’re undergoing certain types of treatments, you may need to have a DOT physical exam every few months.
What to bring to your appointment
Although you complete a detailed medical history, you may still need to bring some records with you to your appointment. For example, if you’ve recently had medical tests or you have lab results, you should bring those. You should bring a list of all of the medications you take, along with the dosage and how often you take them. If you wear glasses or contacts or you use hearing aids, you should bring them to use during your exam.
A DOT physical exam is an important part of making sure you and the other people on the roads are safe while you operate a commercial vehicle. It’s not an invasive or scary exam, and you shouldn’t be nervous about it.
If you need a DOT physical exam, book an appointment at the Apex Medical Center location most convenient for you. You can book online or call the facility you prefer to schedule, and we’ll look forward to seeing you.