Preparing for Your DOT Physical

May 12, 2023
Preparing for Your DOT Physical
Whether you’re just starting out or have decades of experience under your belt, DOT physicals play a crucial part in your career as a commercial driver. Keep reading to see how to prepare for this federal licensing requirement.

If you plan on pursuing or maintaining a career that involves operating a commercial vehicle, you should also expect to undergo a routine DOT physical

These required exams — shorthand for a “Department of Transportation physical” — are comprehensive checkups to ensure you’re in good physical, emotional, and mental health, so you won’t endanger anyone while driving.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires DOT physicals for anyone who:

  • Receives pay to operate vehicles carrying more than eight people
  • Operates vehicles that carry more than 15 people, such as a bus
  • Transports hazardous materials requiring a placard
  • Drives a vehicle between states with a gross combined weight of more than 10,000 pounds

Fortunately, DOT physicals are painless and straightforward. And, once you successfully complete the requirements, you’re usually set for two years. 

If you’re a commercial driver, our providers at AZZ Medical Associates have you covered, because we have FMCSA-certified medical examiners at each of our New Jersey locations. If you need a DOT physical, here’s how you can prepare for your appointment.

Get organized

DOT physicals are like most routine checkups or annual wellness exams. And, just like those visits, you can start getting organized before you even set foot in our office.

Before coming to your appointment, plan on pulling together the following items:

  • Your current (valid) driver’s license
  • Your DOT card (also known as the Medical Examiner’s Certificate (MEC)
  • A list of any allergies, medical conditions, or past surgeries
  • A list of specialists you see, if applicable
  • Lab results for existing conditions, such as diabetes
  • Any medical records, including documentation for sleep apnea or substance use treatment, past crashes, or rehabilitation programs
  • A list of medications or supplements you take, along with names and doses
  • Corrective devices for hearing or vision disorders

You can also fill out your DOT Physical medical examination report form before you arrive. Having these items ready in advance can help keep you relaxed and stress-free during your exam.

Last but not least, make sure you’re ready to urinate when you arrive, because you need to provide a urine sample.

What to expect during your DOT physical

DOT exams usually take around 45 minutes. 

During your appointment, we perform a comprehensive health review, including:

  • Recording your health and lifestyle history
  • Taking your blood pressure, pulse, height, and weight
  • Checking your chest and lungs for respiratory function
  • Listening to your heart for signs of a murmur or other issues
  • Assessing your limbs for impairments
  • Looking for symptoms of a hernia
  • Evaluating your throat and mouth for swallowing or breathing issues
  • Checking your spine and muscles for range of motion
  • Testing your vision and hearing

We also do blood work and a urinalysis to look for underlying medical issues, such as high cholesterol and high blood sugar. Depending on your health, medical history, and age, we may order additional tests, such as an electrocardiogram (EKG). 

Finally, a DOT drug test is often required by the Department of Transportation, so we could suggest doing this during your appointment. This step typically takes an additional 10-15 minutes.

After completing your DOT physical, your provider fills out your form, and you receive your DOT medical card or MEC immediately. You need a valid MEC to keep and renew a commercial driver’s license. In most cases, your medical card lasts two years. However, your provider can issue a card for less time if you have an existing condition that requires monitoring, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

Do you need a DOT exam? We can give you the help you need. To learn more, call 609-890-1050 or book an appointment online with AZZ Medical Associates today. We have locations in Old Bridge, Brick Township, Hamilton Township, and Ewing, New Jersey.