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DOT Medical Examiner Services: Introducing The Community To Everything The Chiropractic Profession Offers

DOT Medical Examiner Services: Introducing The Community To Everything The Chiropractic Profession Offers

By: Christopher Murray, DC, ND, DABCI, CME

[Editor’s Note: Dr. Murray is teaching a DOT Certification and Re-Certification DOT Certified Medical Examiners course for the ICS in June. Check out the details here.]

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The chiropractic profession has been included since the early 1990’s in federal law as a provider type approved to perform Department of Transportation (DOT) medical exams.  In 2012, additional federal regulations created the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (NRCME).  The NRCME includes a formal list of examiners of multiple provider types approved to perform these same commercial driver’s license examinations.  Once again, the chiropractic profession was included as an approved profession that may become DOT-approved Certified Medical Examiners (CME). 

The question is, why would a doctor in the field desire to become a CME? Well, there is no doubt about it. Providing these services can substantially support an existing patient base and potentially boost it as well. However, becoming a CME can also improve a doctor’s standing in the community by serving as another practitioner who provides a portal to a needed healthcare service.

If you have been in practice for a while, it is very likely that you’ve had a patient or two ask whether you perform DOT medical examinations.  And, if you haven’t had anyone directly inquire, it is close to impossible that you have a patient base that doesn’t include those who need a CDL examination prior to driving a commercial motor vehicle.  For this purpose alone, becoming a CME can be an appealing opportunity.   

An often-overlooked perk of performing these exams is the ability to expand a doctor’s patient base.  We have had so many CDL drivers present for exams who would have never otherwise entered a chiropractic physician’s office had it not been for the CDL exam.  Drivers have come back to my office for chiropractic, physical therapy, nutrition-related services, and more, as a result of providing these exams.  This form of “soft advertising” is a non-invasive way of showing our communities who we are and what we do, and most certainly is a great way of building a practice.  

Providing these services also sets doctors apart in the community as providers who are qualified to be integrated components of the greater healthcare system.  There are times when CMEs need to collaborate with allopathic medical treatment providers to ensure that certain conditions are controlled.  This interdisciplinary cooperation enhances relationships in the community.  I personally have had referrals from other medical offices to our office for these examinations, chiropractic, and nutrition services, because other medical providers see that we do things the right way and are willing to be a part of the greater healthcare community. 

The process for becoming certified is not difficult.  First, a certification class is necessary to ensure that CME’s have all the requisite information so they can certify according to DOT guidelines.  I always say in training, “You are not being trained here to be an examiner per se.  According to your training and licensure you already are.  You are being trained to be a certified medical examiner.  This means you must examine and certify according to certification standards.”  Second, there is a certification test that is necessary to pass.  This test is taken electronically at an approved testing facility.  After passing the test, the doctor is placed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners.  All CDL drivers must use an examiner who is listed on the NRCME website.

A CME’s certification is good for 10 years.  CDL examination standards and forms  do change  over time. Therefore, it should also be noted that once you have been certified, there is a requirement to take a recertification course and test every 10 years as well. 

Quite frankly, DOT medical exams are an excellent service to add to an already existing practice, and also to a practice that’s just starting.  In most cases. the time the doctor spends on each exam is relatively brief, since properly trained staff can obtain vitals and other intake information.  And an added benefit is that once an employer starts sending CDL drivers to your office, they often continue to do so, meaning there is a constant flow of exams without the need for additional marketing. There are just so many good things to be said about expanding your practice to include DOT medical examination.  Our patients need these services.  Our community needs these services.  And, honestly, those who become CMEs are a reminder to our profession and beyond that chiropractic physicians are an integral component of the greater healthcare community.

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