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5 Things to Remember When Hiring NEMT Drivers

Non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) is much more than traditional passenger transportation.  

In this industry, your company provides vital services for individuals who can’t reach medical appointments independently, usually because they don’t have a reliable way to get there. 

While many essential jobs exist within your company, drivers can be your most important employees. They are the representatives of your brand and what it stands for. For most NEMT providers, drivers are the main point of contact with customers. 

As crucial as drivers are to your operation, finding the right people to fill these critical roles can be challenging. It’s vital to hire qualified NEMT drivers who understand the unique responsibilities that come with the job.  

Let’s review some important factors to consider when hiring valuable team members. 

Licensing and Certification 

The best way to start your process is to familiarize yourself with the specific requirements set by your state for NEMT drivers. These requirements can vary significantly from state to state, so it’s crucial to understand what’s expected in your area.  

For instance, certain states might mandate specific training programs or courses tailored to NEMT drivers—such as PASS training. These programs often cover patient safety, wheelchair security, and defensive driving techniques.  

Check your state’s regulations to ensure your drivers are fully compliant. 

While a driver’s license is essential, you want to know your NEMT drivers will be prepared for whatever might happen. Look for candidates with certifications in CPR and First Aid, as these are invaluable in emergencies, allowing drivers to provide immediate assistance to patients in need. 

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Consider other relevant certifications, such as Defensive Driving or Passenger Assistance Training. These certifications demonstrate a commitment to safety and preparedness, qualities that are essential for NEMT drivers. 

If candidates don’t have some of these certifications or programs, don’t worry. If you find someone reliable and caring, training them as they go is worth your time and money.  

Don’t let good people go just because they don’t check every box—especially if you can help them grow professionally. 

Driving Record and Experience 

Safety is the top priority when transporting individuals with medical needs. 

A clean driving record isn’t just a nice-to-have—it’s a must-have for NEMT transportation. 

An excellent driving record demonstrates responsibility, reliability, and a commitment to safety. It reflects the driver’s ability to navigate the roads safely and responsibly, which is essential when transporting individuals who may be medically fragile or vulnerable. 

When screening potential hires, thoroughly review their driving records. Look for any red flags, such as major traffic violations or accidents, that could indicate a disregard for safety.  

Driving experience is essential, but when it comes to NEMT, it’s about providing compassionate, patient-centered care to individuals with unique medical needs. 

That’s why experience in transporting individuals with medical needs is invaluable. Look for candidates who have previous experience working in healthcare or caregiving roles. These individuals are familiar with the challenges and specific needs of transporting patients safely and comfortably. 

Ask candidates about their experience working with individuals with disabilities, seniors, or those with chronic medical conditions. The more experience they have in this realm, the better equipped they’ll be to handle the diverse needs of your passengers. 

Successful drivers care more about helping others than simply punching a clock. 

Compassion and Empathy 

Providing comfort, support, and understanding are essential aspects of NEMT service

Each passenger has their own set of challenges and requirements. Some may have mobility limitations and require assistance with boarding and disembarking vehicles. Others may have complex medical conditions requiring specialized equipment or transport accommodations. 

NEMT drivers must take the time to understand and accommodate these unique needs. Whether adjusting the vehicle for optimal comfort or providing emotional support during the journey, every action should be driven by a deep understanding of the passenger’s circumstances. 

Look for people who genuinely care about forming meaningful connections with passengers, making them feel valued and respected. Ask candidates what empathy means to them or describe a time they put themselves in someone else’s shoes to understand their perspective.  

Patience is equally important. Some passengers may require extra time and assistance due to their medical conditions or mobility limitations. It’s essential to approach each interaction patiently without rushing or becoming frustrated. 

Compassion and empathy set exceptional NEMT drivers apart. They go above and beyond to ensure passengers feel safe, comfortable, and cared for.  

Reliability and Punctuality 

Regarding medical appointments, timing is everything, and patients rely on NEMT drivers to get them to their destinations safely and on time. 

Many patients have tight schedules, with carefully coordinated appointments to fit their medical needs. That’s why dependability is a non-negotiable trait for NEMT drivers. 

When hiring NEMT drivers, look for candidates with a track record of reliability and punctuality. Ask about their previous work experience and how they’ve demonstrated their commitment to timeliness and dependability. After all, when it comes to NEMT, there’s no room for excuses—patients’ health and well-being depend on it. 

Still, unexpected situations arise. Whether it’s a traffic jam, a vehicle breakdown, or bad weather, NEMT drivers must be prepared to handle sudden challenges professionally and gracefully. 

This means staying calm under pressure and keeping passengers informed every step of the way.  

When interviewing potential hires, ask them when they faced a challenging situation while transporting passengers. How did they handle it? What steps did they take to ensure the safety and well-being of their passengers? Their responses will give you valuable insight into their ability to handle the unexpected professionally and with poise. 

Hiring drivers who value reliability and punctuality gives you confidence that your passengers will receive the timely, dependable transportation they need to access the care they deserve. 

Communication Skills 

Effective communication is essential for ensuring smooth and efficient transportation for passengers with medical needs. 

Clear communication ensures everyone is on the same page, whether conveying important information to passengers or coordinating logistics with dispatchers. 

NEMT drivers must communicate with passengers concisely and respectfully. Effective communication with dispatchers helps ensure that routes are planned efficiently and that any changes or updates are communicated promptly.  

Ask candidates about their experience working in customer service or roles requiring frequent interaction with others. Look for candidates who demonstrate strong verbal and written communication skills and can remain calm and composed under pressure. 

Handling Conflicts and Emergencies 

Unfortunately, NEMT drivers deal with their fair share of conflicts and emergencies.  

Whether it’s a passenger experiencing a medical emergency or a disagreement between passengers, NEMT drivers must be prepared to handle these situations with professionalism and tact. 

NEMT drivers should be skilled at diffusing tense situations, listening actively to all parties involved, and finding mutually agreeable solutions. 

They must be able to communicate calmly and effectively with dispatchers, emergency services, and passengers, providing vital information and instructions while remaining focused on ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone involved. 

Look for candidates with strong interpersonal skills and the ability to communicate effectively in various situations. By prioritizing communication skills during the hiring process, you can ensure that your NEMT drivers are equipped to provide the highest service to passengers with medical needs. 

Vetting Drivers is Crucial 

In the NEMT industry, drivers are the lifeblood of your company. 

By thoroughly vetting candidates during the hiring process, you can build a team of professionals with the skills, experience, and qualities necessary to excel in their roles.  

Take the time to assess each candidate carefully, considering their qualifications, experience, character, and dedication to serving others. 

By doing so, you’ll build a team of exceptional NEMT drivers and ensure that your passengers receive the highest level of care and support during their journeys. After all, when it comes to NEMT, the safety and well-being of passengers always come first.