Health Workers,
Employee Medical Testing and Training Requirements.

This guide will help you navigate medical exams, CPR/BLS, fingerprinting and drug testing requirements for hiring health workers in Pennsylvania.  Let’s get started!

Are health workers required to have a medical exam before being hired?

Pennsylvania doesn’t have specific state laws requiring medical examination as a condition for hiring health workers, such as doctors, nurses and paramedics.  However, each medical profession has their own licensing board in Pennsylvania, such as the State Board of Medicine.  To learn about the different types of medical exams, keep reading!

Why health workers should take a physical exam

The physical exam should have full details that indicate the employee is free of disease to perform their duties A physical exam would also confirm that your health workers don’t have any health conditions that would create a hazard for themselves, fellow employees or patients.  A physical examination makes sure that health workers are capable of physically assisting patients, such as helping them on and off the bed, or assisting them in the bathroom.

What does a physical exam include?

A physical exam, also known as a wellness check, is generally composed of the following tests:

  • Evaluation of patient’s medical history
  • Check weight
  • Check blood pressure
  • Check temperature
  • EKG or ECG (electrocardiogram), which records the electrical signal from the heart to check for different heart conditions
  • Check your ears, nose, lungs, throat, and eyes.

Remember that you can only request your employees to undergo a physical exam and other medical tests after you’ve offered them employment. Meaning, you cannot use medical exams as part of the pre-employment process. Doing so would be a violation of federal laws.

Why health workers should take TB tests

Health workers have a higher risk of contracting TB compared to other types of occupations due to their frequent contact with various patients.  Health workers should take TB skin tests whenever they report symptoms of the disease, or after they’ve had contact with patients or co-workers who tested positive for TB.  If your health worker tests positive for TB, they will most likely need a Chest X-Ray as well.

Do health workers need to submit fingerprinting and background checks for employment?

Health workers are required by state licensing boards to provide a recent Criminal History Records Check (CHRC) from the state police or other state agency for every state in which you have lived, worked, or completed professional training/studies for the past 10 years.  The Pennsylvania State Police will run a criminal history check on the applicant’s fingerprints as part of this application. The report must be dated within 90 days of the date the application is submitted.  For prospective employees living or working outside of Pennsylvania during the past 10 years, instead of obtaining individual state background checks, you may elect to provide both a state CHRC from the state in which you currently reside and your FBI Identity History Summary Check.

The benefits of fingerprinting and background checks

Fingerprinting and background checks for your new employees are beneficial for your medical facility.

  • Patients will feel safer and more secure during their visits when you ensure that your health professionals are properly screened.
  • Live Scan fingerprinting protects healthcare professionals from other people stealing and using their identities.
  • Live Scan fingerprinting can be seamlessly integrated with existing healthcare systems, which makes the process more streamlined and efficient.
Is drug testing required in Pennsylvania for health workers?

There’s no Pennsylvania state law that requires drug testing for doctors, nurses, and other health workers.  However, management has the choice to implement drug testing as part of your hiring policy. You can also make drug testing of current medical staff recurring and random.

Why you should require drug testing for health workers

Remember, the lives of patients are in the hands of health workers. Therefore, having a clear sober mind and sound judgment is of the utmost importance.  Let’s take a look at some benefits of drug testing, whether as part of the hiring process or as a recurring program after they’re hired.

  • Illicit drugs can impair one’s physical and mental capabilities.
  • Drugs can impair one’s judgment and decision-making.
  • Reduces the chance of on-the-job accidents and injuries.
  • Drug testing provides both employers and employees with the ability to make the workplace a more productive environment.
  • Reduces absenteeism from your staff.
  • Reduce employee turnover rates.
  • Protect your company from lawsuits and liabilities.
What you should know about Philadelphia’s laws for marijuana testing

A Philadelphia law prohibits pre-employment drug tests for marijuana as a condition of employment. This law pertains to most employees, including teachers, however there are a few exceptions:

  • Law enforcement agencies.
  • Positions that provide the supervision or care of children, medical patients, those with disabilities, or other vulnerable adults.
  • Jobs that require commercial driver’s licenses.
Are CPR and BLS certifications required for health workers in Pennsylvania?

CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) and BLS (Basic Life Support) certification requirements can vary between various professional licensing boards and company policies.  Employer guidelines determine if the course needs to include a practical skills component or not. Your company policy will also decide if online-only courses are sufficient enough. Having said that, it is typically required or highly-recommended that all health workers are trained in at least CPR techniques, as well as know how to operate an AED (Automated External Defibrillator).  OSHA recommends, but does not require, that every workplace include one or more employees who are trained and certified in first aid, including CPR.  In fact, Pennsylvania regulations typically require certain medical and rehabilitation facilities to have at least one person trained and certified in CPR and first aid present at all times.

What’s the difference between CPR and BLS?

BLS and CPR courses cover the same fundamentals, but BLS certification programs cover a few more advanced techniques.  CPR/BLS courses for license renewals are dependent on your employee’s job role. For instance, one medical profession may not be required to take CPR refresher courses to renew their license, while others are.

Why are CPR or BLS courses required?

It is only natural that healthcare employees and other staff members at a medical facility know basic CPR or BLS procedures. After all, your employees play a critical role in the health and safety of patients within your facilities.  Enrolling and completing CPR, AED and/or First Aid courses benefit those around you.

Are Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) courses required?

Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) is not required by Pennsylvania occupational codes. Neither is Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS). However, medical licensing boards may require the completion of ACLS and or PALS certification to gain or renew a license.

What’s the difference between ACLS and BLS?

BLS and ACLS are different in scope as well as complexity.  BLS focuses on basic life-saving techniques, such as CPR and proper use of AED.  ACLS delves deeper into advanced cardiovascular life support, including advanced airway management, pharmacology, and complex resuscitation algorithms. Typically, physicians are required to obtain an ACLS certification, whereas nurses and non-physician health workers can simply take BLS or CPR courses.

Your next steps

Now that you know what the pre-employment medical exam requirements are in Pennsylvania, the next step is to help your prospective health workers to schedule appointments for tests.  WellnessMart specializes in pre-employment testing for working in the medical field. With over 50 locations to serve you, Wellnessmart allows employers to order tests, receive and store results, and get single consolidated billing – all at It’s quick, friendly, accurate testing for schools and companies, and requires no out of pocket payments for your applicants.

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