FMCSA says National Registry for medical examiners 'on track'

By Sandi Soendker, Land Line editor-in-chief | 8/13/2013

FMCSA’s goal to have medical examiners doing DOT physicals to be trained, tested, certified and listed on a National Registry is moving along slowly, but the agency says it’s on track. The rule is now in effect with a compliance date of May 21, 2014. 

Elaine M. Papp is division chief of the FMCSA’s medical programs. This week, she spoke to Land Line about the progress being made.

“When they did the rulemaking, they said they needed 40,000 medical examiners to meet the needs of the 4 million drivers,” she said. “And that’s by the time the whole thing is up and running and everybody needs to get their cards.”

According to Papp, the National Registry currently has 10,474 enrollees signed up but not trained or tested.

“Of those, 1,573 have sat for the exam and passed it, so that’s how many we have who are actually certified,” she says.

Papp expects that number to start growing as the availability of training and testing expands.

“We now have only one testing organization up and running. We have two more that should be up and running by September and a fourth that is just now applying.”

Papp notes that it’s not unusual for people to wait until the last minute to take the test but she thinks the Registry is “pretty well on its way.”

“We want to make sure we have medical examiners across the whole nation – rural areas, the remote areas like Alaska; we want to make sure there are examiners everywhere,” said Papp. “So we are working really hard right now doing outreach to all of those areas – to urgent care centers and all kinds of folks to make sure we have enough.”

Papp said some organizations are looking at setting up clinics at truck stops and using other means to serve driver needs.

“One examiner in Alaska for instance, told us he wants to get a mobile van and move around,” she says. “There are a lot of interesting options going on.”

“I’m just hoping that we can get them dispersed across the nation evenly so they meet all the drivers’ needs.”

Papp also said she would like drivers to help out, too, by saying to the person who does their physical exam – “I’d like to keep using you but I can’t unless you take the training and get certified.”

Papp emphasized that not every driver will need a new card on May 21, 2014. Drivers need to go to an examiner on the Registry only when their card expires. If a driver has a card that does not expire until June 2015, that driver doesn’t have to go to someone on the National Registry until June 2015.

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