Although most healthcare organizations have some storage space, many use just-in-time supply systems that require daily shipments to replace the items used for patient care. Supplies are typically delivered by medical supply delivery drivers, who may also deliver directly to patients. Drivers who deliver medical supplies may need to know how to handle specialized items, such as oxygen tanks or medicines that require refrigeration.
On the Road
Medical delivery drivers are required for a variety of situations. They bring essential supplies, such as oxygen, to home-bound patients. They help pharmacies deliver medications or supplies to their customers. They work for local distributors that send supplies to hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices and outpatient care centers. Deliveries are made in heavy tractor-trailer trucks, vans, pick-up trucks or cars, each of which requires a driver. Long-haul medical delivery truckers move supplies hundreds or thousands of miles from manufacturers to warehouses or end users.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that delivery truck drivers usually have a high school diploma or GED, and most companies provide on-the-job training. In addition to learning their delivery routes, drivers must know how to handle damaged or returned goods and complete necessary paperwork. In the medical field, drivers may need to know how to set up equipment, such as oxygen tanks, hospital beds or other equipment. The job can be physically demanding, as the driver is responsible for loading and unloading supplies. Drivers need good customer service skills, eye-hand coordination, patience and driving skills. A driver’s license is always required, but a commercial driver's license is not necessary.
The Long Haul
Long-haul truckers drive vehicles with gross weights greater than 26,000 pounds, according to the BLS. A post-secondary certificate is typically required, as is a commercial driver’s license. Long-haul truckers must submit to regular drug tests and may be away from home for a week or more, traveling through multiple states. They must know how to negotiate city streets as well as interstate highways, and be skilled at maneuvering their trucks in tight quarters, such as a hospital parking lot. Some truckers also perform loading and unloading duties. A medical delivery long-haul driver might need hazardous materials certification to haul some supplies, such as medical gases.
Job Outlook and Salaries
The projected growth rate for local delivery drivers in general is 5 percent from 2012 to 2022, about half the average growth rate projected for all occupations, according to the BLS. The growth rate for long-haul truckers is expected to be about 11 percent for the same period. The average annual salary for local delivery drivers was $22,760 in 2012. Long-haul truckers earned an average of $38,200 a year. The Indeed job site reports an average annual salary of $30,000 for medical supply delivery drivers in 2014.