I decided to interview for the Oregon Department Of Transportation (ODOT) who were looking to hire a physician (Medical Determination Officer) to review medical cases of driver’s license suspensions. The interview process was quite intense so I thought it would be fun to share it here. I didn’t even know DMV physician jobs existed until I came across it in an online posting.
DMV Physician Jobs
Since individuals can have their driver’s licenses suspended for medical problems, it would make sense that the DMV would hire a Medical Determination Officer, either MD’s or DO’s, to review such cases.
I came across this job posting where the DMV was looking for Medical Determination Officers to review the cases of at-risk drivers. The DMV receives approximately 5,000 such cases a year by either the patient’s doctor, family members, police officers, or concerned citizens.
There is a team that works with this Medical Determination Officer to collect all the necessary reports, request medical information from the patient’s PCP, and follow-up with the patient to get their side of the story.
Scheduling The Interview For The Medical Determination Officer Role
I applied several months ago for this position and got word that I made it through the first cut and that if the team thought that I was a good candidate then they would reach out to me.
2 weeks later, I received a call asking me if I was available on very short notice to attend the interview. The woman on the phone apologized for it being such a short notice and understood if I was too busy to attend or no longer interested in DMV physician jobs.
The interview was in the middle of the week at 3pm. I have a feeling this was intentional to weed out those MD/DO’s whose schedules are just too busy or inflexible.
I wasn’t told anything on the phone except that I needed to arrive 15 minutes early to pick up a packet. I didn’t even know what the position was about exactly; would I see patients? Would I just review charts? Could I do it from home in PJ’s?
The Interview Day
I went to the main DMV office which seemed like the FBI headquarters with plenty of security measures. I checked in and got a badge and even though I was 30 minutes early, the front desk person told me that I can’t have the packet until 15 minutes before the interview.
I asked her if she knew anything about these DMV physician jobs and she shook her head.
2:45pm and she calls me up. “Here you go, please go have a seat.”
I knew it! It was a test to see how I would deal with a specific scenario.
The packet had 5 interview questions, a sample physician report of a patient, the patient’s reply, and some other tidbits of information.
This thing was detailed! It was a 60’s man with DM2, syncope, OSA, and hx of methamphetamine use. All the forms regarding this were filled out so it was really hard to figure out who reported who and what information the patient provided versus their PCP.
A 4-Panel Interview
I was escorted by a woman to the interview room and I walk in with 4 interviewers sitting down across a big old desk with paperwork in their hands.
Uhm… did I get the job and is this my orientation??
Nope, they just thought that the physician hired for this Medical Determination Officer role should be interviewed by an entire panel. Makes sense since DMV physician jobs are probably rare and sort of important.
Everyone goes around introducing themselves to me and shakes my hand. I was told that this will be a 45-minute process.
To my right was the head physician, really nice guy. To his right was the head of the Oregon DMV, intimidating for sure but kind. And then there was a woman and another man who are the heads of their respective departments and facilitate the reports which the physician will then review.
1. Tell us what makes you a good candidate for this job.
So I mentioned that I used to do a lot of workman’s comp work and review charts as a medical director. But that I wasn’t familiar with the responsibilities of the Medical Determination Officer.
It was important for them to hear that I also have experience dealing with non-MD personnel to resolve clinical review cases and that I was able to communicate well enough to create reports and make independent non-clinical judgements.
Being able to “dumb down” medical jargon was important from the non-verbal cues that I got.
2. What would be clinical factors that could impede a person from safely operating a vehicle?
I’m making these questions seem easy but they were written quite verbose and I had to sit there and read them out loud before answering them – like 3rd grade. Even though I had a chance to review them in the waiting room, I was end-stage anxious in front of these people.
I don’t think I did too well on this but mentioned that frailty, lack of reaction time, memory, attention, and ability to take responsibility were important factors.
Seriously, I felt the medical doctor scoff – or maybe it was just my imagination.
3. What steps would you take to make sure that your clinical decision is unbiased by pressures from DMV staff and patient or their doctor?
Look, I know, the answer is supposed to be “base my decisions on clinical data and no emotional factors” but it’s not that easy with 4 people staring at you – waiting for you to mumble/read the question.
I even said something vague to that effect and the head honcho rephrased the question to help me out a little.
While I was soaking my dress shirt under the 7 layers of clothing that I decided to wear on this 33 degree Portland weather, I managed to give a possibly more convincing answer by saying “I would follow the guidelines outlined for me through the DMV to determine who is or isn’t qualified and I would base my decisions on clinical facts so as to not be swayed by emotional pressures.” Curtsey.
They might have as well asked me “Why did you want to be a doctor?” – I … like helping people…?
4. Please discuss with us the sample case we outlined and give us your impression. What decision would you have made? What problems do you see? Do you agree with the final decision?
This packet was intimidated and I had reviewed it but it was really tough making heads or tails out of it. I puppy-eyed the crusty doctor to my right to see if he’d throw me a bone. He must have smelled me soiling myself because he gave me a quick overview of the case file and broke each section down for me. MD high-five!
I discussed the response from the patient which was vague and didn’t address her multiple MVA’s and possible syncope’s. I also talked about the information that was received from the PCP which didn’t really address her drug addiction, nor her OSA.
Silence. Some nodding. Someone jotted something down. Sweating resumed.
5. Why are you interested in DMV physician jobs when you have other options?
“I believe in the DMV. I believe in ODOT and MDO’s!”
How are you supposed to answer this questions?!
“I’m done with clinical medicine and if I don’t deal with another URI until I die then I might be the happiest man on earth! Oh, and I need money because I got this medical board investigation thing which requires a lawyer…”
What I actually answered was that this was a bit of detective work and an interesting puzzle to solve. And that some patients with drug addiction may take their license suspension as a critical time in their lives to try once again to undergo treatment for their addiction. And I may have said something about public safety – I don’t remember, I was drowning.
The head of the DMV seemed pleased with this answer or he just wanted the interview to be over.
I’ll find out next week since they have done all their interviews of potential candidates.
The Pay, The Hours, The Perks
DMV physician jobs like this Medical Determination Officer role is per diem work which is great – I don’t intend to do this permanently.
It’s completely flexible but I would have to drive a bit to get to their headquarters to access the files. I was hoping it would be a remote gig but no luck.
The pay is about $60/hour and includes no benefits. They told me that it’s an honor system and that I would just go to the office, review the cases, do the work, log my time, and get paid as a standard Medical Determination Officer.
If I get this role it would be a really nice change of pace. I am curious to learn about such non-clinical roles in medicine and I am sure that I will eventually come across a gig which captures my interest.