Drug testing in nursing school

  1. 0
    Sorry if this is covered somewhere else, but I haven't been able to find an answer for this specific question...

    So, a friend of mine is about to start nursing school, and she wanted to know whether the school can require a drug test without informing her of this requirement before she starts the program. There was nothing in the application documents she had to sign that mentioned anything about a drug test, although she had to sign several documents stating she was aware of various other policies. I really didn't know what to tell her, as while I had to take a drug test when I started my program, they listed it as part of their admissions requirements. I was always under the impression that school/employers must make you aware of their policy before they can drug test you, but I may be wrong.

    I guess my question is, can a nursing school accept you as a student, collect tuition from you, and then require you to take a drug test without previously informing you that it is a possibility?

    Also, if all you have to say is something along the lines of "If she's clean, she has nothing to hide", please don't bother responding, as this is not what I'm asking. My question is about whether a school can legally require a drug test without prior notification [usually at the time of admission]. The school is in California, BTW
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  4. 33 Comments so far...

  5. 0
    "Potential" drug testing is usually in the fine print. Should be next to criminal records check.
  6. 1
    Hate to do it... If she's clean she's got no worries. Only a user would want to get around it.

    This is nursing. Not exactly the best career for users. Usually...


    To answer your question... it's most likely in the fine print.
    GOMER42 likes this.
  7. 1
    Most drugs are undetectable after 90 days anyways (even in the hair). If she wants to balance drugs and nursing, I wouldnt advise it.
    GOMER42 likes this.
  8. 2
    They can. Tell her to stop using.
    GOMER42 and BabyLady like this.
  9. 1
    They can. It is within rights as a student can be tested for any reason, once in. A friend of mine was making drug jokes at clinical, and they made him go to the med center, get tested, and make up the day of clinical. they are serious...which is a good thing.
    Users should not be in the field, too much temptation. just a thought.
    MaryAnn_RN likes this.
  10. 0
    Quote from locolorenzo22
    They can. It is within rights as a student can be tested for any reason, once in. A friend of mine was making drug jokes at clinical, and they made him go to the med center, get tested, and make up the day of clinical. they are serious...which is a good thing.
    Users should not be in the field, too much temptation. just a thought.
    See, that's the thing, I was under the impression that California's right to privacy laws generally prohibit random testing without probable cause. I'm almost certain that employers cannot randomly test their employees without the employees signing a waiver [sometimes required for employment]. Are the rules different for schools? Or are nursing school just an exception?

    I don't know where you get off talking about "temptation", though. Did I say she was addicted to narcotics, or something? It seems that you [like almost everyone else who has responded so far] are pretty quick to make assumptions and pass broad judgments. There are other reasons why people would rather not take a drug test other than hiding a drug problem. For example, there are a number of prescription drugs that show up, and the only way to explain them may be to reveal certain aspects of your private medical history that you might prefer to keep private. But of course, its not like nurses could be expected to know things like that....Also, just for the sake of argument, lets say we're only talking about illegal drugs. Are you honestly telling me that you don't think there's a HUGE difference between someone who likes to smoke some MJ on their off time, and someone who is addicted to oxycontin?

    Seriously, I was just asking a simple question about what school legally can, and cannot do. In case none of you noticed, I never said she was even remotely concerned about whether she would pass a drug test or not. We were just both interested to see how California's right to privacy laws apply here. Surprising though it may be, some people like to ask questions just for the sake of learning something.
    Last edit by OC85 on Jan 4, '09
  11. 1
    I know this isn't the answer you want to hear, in fact, the answer that you don't want to hear, but unless your friend wants to raise a MAJOR red flag with the faculty and staff by seriously questioning the drug test legalities, then she needs to take the test.

    She is going to have to take one before she can get a job as a nurse, so she needs to get used to drug testing now.

    The school has a duty to screen the students and a responsibility to the facility to do so.

    I understand your desire to "learn something", but I have had to take drug tests at every job I have had for better than 15 years. I never asked what test, what company, how they did it, when they did it. On the event when I was tested randomly, I never asked why, I just figured my "number was picked".

    Your friend is questioning the legalities...not you...and just with sheer life experience...people don't usually worry about being tested unless they have reason to worry.

    To educate you on drug testing, usually the drug testing company, in the event of a "fail", will give the individual the opportunity to produce a valid prescription...if they have one...then it is usually reported to the facility as a "pass" and the details of the drug list are not revealed. However, even if you have a valid prescription, if your serum levels for a drug are through the roof, suggesting abuse, then they will report that specific finding...it's not technically a fail, but it lets the facility make that decision.

    Trace amounts are not reported as a fail. So the stories of the poppy seed bagel causing someone to fail a drug test don't happen anymore.
    Last edit by BabyLady on Jan 4, '09
    cardiacRN2006 likes this.
  12. 0
    Quote from OC85
    See, that's the thing, I was under the impression that California's right to privacy laws generally prohibit random testing without probable cause.
    There's your loophole.
  13. 1
    Quote from AragornSkywalker
    There's your loophole.
    Not for a nursing program or employment if it's a pre-admission requirement. That "clause" only keeps an employer from abusing the practice and test just to test after you begin your employment without probable cause.

    Probable cause is a very broad term.

    That can cover anything from excessive absenteeism to sloppy work.

    Our nursing program, per se, does not have a drug testing policy. However, no facility that we do clinicals in will allow us on site without evidence of a clean screen. Therefore, our school does it in lieu of us having to have a pay for a drug test every time we change clinical sites.
    cardiacRN2006 likes this.


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