For physicians who see patients for commercial driver certifications, May 21, 2014, is going to be an important day for you.  Beginning that day, patients who need to have a commercial driver examination and license will need to be seen by a Certified Medical Examiner (CME) who is registered and certified through the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners.  See the FMCSA regulations.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is a division of the Department of Transportation, has made safety a prime focus for ongoing commercial driver certifications and, in doing so, created the national registry so that high-quality medical examiners are making the final determination about who gets to drive these commercial vehicles.  The balance in question is an individual’s desire to work/drive versus public safety and the on-road risk of commercial drivers who may not be medically safe to operate these vehicles.  In essence, the patient evaluation is a Driver Medical Fitness for Duty exam.

How do you go about becoming certified in the next six weeks?  There are three main steps:

1.       You must register online with the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners.  Realize that you are NOT certified at this point, just registered.

2.       You must take a training course on commercial driver/Department of Transportation safety rules and regulations.  Find a list of courses here.  The NHMS sponsored course is listed on page 10 or find it here.

3.       You must take, and pass, the certification examination.  Find testing locations here.

The important issue to understand about becoming a Certified Medical Examiner is that if the patient/driver you are seeing is not medically appropriate for driving a commercial vehicle, you will likely not be able to certify that person.  This will impact the person’s ability to perform the job and earn income, but your obligation to enhancing public safety will be the more important concern.  That may not be a situation in which many physicians will feel comfortable.  Even if you don’t end up becoming a CME, understanding the issues that your patients may encounter can be helpful for all involved.


Stuart J. Glassman, MD

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