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If you have recently accepted a new job offer, there is a good chance that your new employer will require you to undergo a pre-employment physical exam before your start date.

A pre-employment physical, also known as a pre-placement physical or new-hire physical, is a medical examination conducted by a healthcare professional to evaluate your health and ability to safely perform the essential functions of the job.

While requirements can vary depending on the job and employer, the main goals of a pre-employment physical are to:

  • Identify any pre-existing medical conditions that could impact your job performance or pose a safety risk
  • Confirm you meet the physical and mental demands of the position
  • Screen for substances like drugs or alcohol that could impair job duties
  • Reduce the employer’s liability and workers’ compensation costs

Certain jobs like commercial drivers, positions involving heavy lifting, first responders, and jobs in healthcare may have more extensive evaluation requirements. In this blog, we will explore what you can typically expect during a standard pre-employment physical exam.

Preparing for Your Exam

Proper preparation is key to ensuring your exam goes smoothly. Be sure to review any paperwork or instructions provided by your employer in advance.

Here are some other tips for preparing for your pre-employment physical exam:

  • Avoiding drugs, marijuana, or excessive alcohol for at least 48 hours prior if drug/alcohol screening is required
  • Getting enough rest the night before
  • Bringing any required documentation like ID, insurance cards, immunization records
  • Making a list of current medications, medical conditions, surgeries
  • Not eating or drinking anything for 8-12 hours if blood work will be drawn

What to Expect During the Pre-Employment Physical Exam?

A standard pre-employment physical will involve:

Medical History & Questionnaire

You’ll be asked to complete paperwork providing details on your medical, family, and social history. Be thorough and honest in your responses.

Physical Exam

The examiner will check your vital signs, listen to your heart and lungs, feel your abdomen, and do a basic physical assessment looking for signs of injury or disease.

Vision & Hearing Tests

Basic vision and hearing tests are routinely included to confirm you meet any requirements for the position.

Drug & Alcohol Screening

If required by the employer, you’ll provide a urine, blood, saliva, or hair sample for analysis of recent drug and alcohol use.

Lab Tests & Immunizations

Additional blood tests or immunization titers may be done depending on your medical history and job role.

Functional Evaluation

Some jobs involve lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, or stamina tests to ensure you can safely perform physical tasks.

Psychological Evaluation

Certain jobs like first responders or pilots may involve basic psychological screening for suitability.

Note: Results are analyzed by an occupational health physician or nurse practitioner. Expect a follow-up if any issues are identified that could impact work safety or ability. Otherwise, you’ll be cleared for duty upon completion.

Coping with Potential Results

While most pass their pre-employment physical with no issues, it’s possible certain conditions could be identified. Try not to worry too much in advance. If minor health issues are found, your doctor will work with your employer’s requirements to determine the next steps.

Failing a drug/alcohol screening or not meeting other key job criteria may, unfortunately, disqualify you from a position initially. Stay positive and view it as an opportunity to address any health concerns before accepting another offer down the road. Your health and safety should always come first.

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