Nursing Student Drug Testing Policy
Revised July 2021
The William Jewell College Department of Nursing is committed to the health, safety and well-being of all students who participate in its programs and represent the college in clinical agencies. Substance abuse is one of the most important issues facing society today. The use of illegal drugs, misuse of legal drugs and dietary supplements, misuse of alcohol and inappropriate use of tobacco products are inconsistent with standards expected of students at William Jewell College. The use of these types of substances can pose risks to the student’s health, negatively affect his or her academic performance, pose risks to the safety of others and diminish clinical performance. It can also compromise the integrity of patient care and the ideals of William Jewell College.
William Jewell College has an institutional drug-testing program consisting of education, testing, rehabilitation, and counseling intended to protect the health and welfare of all students. Amendments to these procedures may be issued with or without notice as deemed appropriate by College personnel. Nothing in these procedures shall be construed to create a contract between students and William Jewell College. However, signed consent and notification forms shall be considered affirmation of the student’s agreement to the terms and conditions contained therein and to this policy and these procedures, and shall be legal contractual obligations of the student.
The Department of Nursing at William Jewell College believes it is our responsibility to do everything possible to protect the health and well-being of our students. It is our desire, therefore to educate our students about the effects (both long and short term) of drugs and over-the-counter dietary supplements on their clinical practice and much more importantly, on their lives. It is our hope that our students will recognize the dangers of drug use, and therefore, practice and live free of all dangerous substances.
The central purpose of the program is to protect students from the detrimental effects of drug use/abuse and meet clinical compliance requirements set forth by the Department of Nursing’s clinical partners. The drug testing program should discourage the use of drugs and illegal substances, and appropriate intervention will take place should drugs or illegal substances be detected during a random drug test. Other specific goals of the comprehensive testing program are as follows:
- Education – to provide educational guidance to students to ensure awareness of the physical, mental, and legal consequences of illegal drug use.
- Prevention – to discourage students from drug experimentation and possible drug abuse and dependency by imposing significant sanctions on offenders.
- Detection of abuse – to detect students who may be involved in substance use or abuse through random testing methods.
- Treatment and Rehabilitation – to assist those students for whom a possible drug problem exists in obtaining rehabilitation through drug counseling programs available through referral for counseling services.
- Promote health and safety of student nursing clinical practice – to provide reasonable safeguards assuring that every student is able to participate in nursing practice unimpaired by illegal or banned drugs.
- Meet clinical compliance requirements – to assure clinical agencies that student nurses have been screened for substances which could negatively impact patient safety in accordance with the requirements of the Joint Commission.
Consent to Participate
As a condition of participation in the nursing program at William Jewell College, each student will be required to sign a consent form agreeing to undergo drug testing and authorizing release of test results in accordance with this policy. A student will not be permitted to participate in clinical activities until completed. Failure or refusal to sign this consent or comply with the requirements of this policy may result in ineligibility to participate in clinicals, and therefore, may result in dismissal from the nursing program at William Jewell College. Students will be given the opportunity to ask any questions regarding the information contained in the policy, the testing program, or other related issues prior to signing the drug-testing consent form. See Appendix A section below.
All William Jewell College students admitted to the nursing program and who have signed the institutional consent form shall be subject to drug testing under the terms of this policy. All admitted nursing students shall be subject to the terms of this policy throughout the calendar year.
William Jewell College students are subject to drug screening policies and procedures of the clinical agency in which they are assigned. Clinical agencies have the right to deny students clinical placement in their facilities.
In accordance with the Joint Commission’s requirement, the William Jewell College drug screening process at a minimum will include screening for amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, opiates, marijuana, codeine and cocaine. Reasonable suspicion and reportable accident testing may include amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, carisoprodol, opiates, fentanyl analogues, methadone, meperidine, marijuana and cocaine. William Jewell College explicitly reserves the right to test for substances not listed above and to test at varied detection levels.
Ignorance of the legality of a substance is no excuse for a positive test.
The William Jewell College Department of Nursing will defer to the Alcohol Policy in the William Jewell College student handbook. Violations of this policy will be handled as outlined in this handbook.
Types of Drug Testing
- Entrance to Nursing Program
Testing will be required for all students admitted to the nursing program in accordance with Jewell’s agreements with clinical agencies. If a student tests positive, he or she will not be admitted to the program. A student with a positive drug test may reapply after one year. Additional testing may occur if deemed appropriate by the Department of Nursing Chair.
- Requirement for Clinical Placement
Testing may be required of any nursing student as part of clinical placement requirements stipulated by the Department of Nursing’s clinical partners.
- Reasonable Suspicion
Any nursing student participating in clinical practice is subject to drug testing upon request if there is reasonable cause to believe that the student may be using illegal drugs, misusing legal drugs and dietary supplements or misusing alcohol or tobacco products. Circumstances which constitute reasonable cause, include but are not limited to, the following: current or past involvement with the criminal justice system for drug related activities, notification from the Department of Student Life of any report that includes the presence of drugs and/or drug paraphernalia, prior treatment for drug problems, admission of a current drug problem, prior positive drug test, physiological signs of possible impairment from drugs or a pattern of abnormal behavior.The possession and/or use of illegal substances may be determined by means other than urinalysis. When an individual is found to be in possession and/or using such substances, he/she will be subject to the same procedures that would be followed in the case of a positive urinalysis. See Appendix B for the Reasonable Suspicion Form.
- Re-entry Testing
Any student testing positive for an illegal substance will be subject to testing prior to release from administrative sanctions. An increase in drug metabolite from the most recent test indicates usage and therefore a subsequent offense.
- Follow-up Testing
Any student testing positive for an illegal substance may be subject to repeated follow-up testing. A test result of negative dilute shall necessitate retesting. Retesting may be at the student’s expense.
Usually, but not always, students will be notified of an impending drug test no more than 24 hours prior to the test session. However, under this policy, no notice testing is permissible. The Nursing Department Clinical Compliance Coordinator or his/her designee will notify the student, in person or by direct telephone communication of the date and time to report to the lab for sample collection. Voice messages and emails are not acceptable forms of notification.
Faculty or clinical instructors may initiate reasonable cause testing for reasonable suspicion during any clinical experience. In the case of reasonable suspicion, a Reasonable Suspicion Report Form (appendix B) must be completed and submitted by the faculty to the Department Chair. Notification for drug testing will be made to the student once the faculty person has notified and gained approval for drug testing from the Nursing Department Chair or his/her designee. The student will read and sign the Nursing Student Notification form acknowledging that he/she has been notified of the drug test and verifying the date and time of the test. (Appendix C) Drug testing for reasonable suspicion may include blood as well as urine. The student also acknowledges that failure or refusal to appear, or tampering with the urine sample will constitute a positive test result and will be subject to disciplinary action. Additionally, tardiness will not be tolerated and failure to appear within the designated testing window will be considered a missed test.
Drug testing will commonly be conducted at an approved lab contracted by the Nursing Department. After registering online with the Department of Nursing’s contracted drug screening partner, students will report to the lab within the testing window outlined on the Nursing Student Notification form. A government-issued photo ID should be brought with the student to the drug testing site. The student is identified and begins the actual testing process.
Maintaining confidentiality and protection of the rights of the student is a critical factor in drug-testing. Every effort will be made to protect the confidentiality of students under this policy, including those who test positive, undergo reasonable suspicion testing or enter treatment programs. Only persons with a “need to know” will be informed of the drug testing results. Under no circumstances will any William Jewell College personnel or anyone else associated with the drug testing program be permitted to discuss publicly any information acquired in their capacity. All infractions will be referred to as “violation of compliance policy” in communication with any persons not directly affected by the infraction.
The Nursing Department Clinical Compliance Coordinator or his/her designee will serve as the site coordinator and liaison between the Nursing Dept. Chair, drug screening contractor and the laboratory conducting the tests. The Department of Nursing Chair will be involved in all cases of positive tests.
Medical Exception Process
William Jewell College recognizes that some banned substances are used for legitimate medical purposes. Documentation from the student’s prescribing physician will be requested by the Medical Review Officer of the drug screening vendor if a positive test occurs. The Medical Review Officer will confirm medical need and render the test negative, as appropriate.
Drug Testing Procedure
The drug testing collection process will be administered by the contracted drug screening vendor and its lab partners.
The Nursing Department Clinical Compliance Coordinator will receive results (positive or negative). All results will be handled using strict confidentiality. The Nursing Department Chair will be notified in the case of a positive or dilute test.
Sanctions for Positive Test Results
Among the sanctions that may result from positive institutional drug tests are:
- Loss of clinical participation privileges
- Clinical course failure
- One-year suspension from the nursing program
- Permanent dismissal from the nursing program
- Financial responsibility for retesting and/or clinical make-up costs
Positive drug test results are cumulative for the student’s nursing career at William Jewell College. Not meeting any or all of the sanction requirements will be considered another violation of this policy and the subsequent sanction shall apply. Additionally, failure to sign the consent to test form, failure to appear for requested testing or any attempt to manipulate test results will be considered a positive test and appropriate sanctions will apply.
- The Nursing Clinical Compliance Coordinator will schedule a confidential meeting with the student, Nursing Clinical Compliance Coordinator and Department of Nursing Chair to inform them of the positive test result.
- The student will be immediately suspended from participation in any clinical rotation. Due to clinical agency policies, the student will be unable to participate in any nursing courses for one year. See re-entry information below.
- The student will be required to attend two counseling sessions with the college’s counselor for the purposes of evaluation, education, and if necessary, treatment, counseling or referral. The counselor will determine if additional sessions are warranted based on his/her initial evaluation of the student. He/she will determine when the student has satisfactorily met counseling requirements and thereby released from required counseling sessions.
- The student will be required to attend one educational session with a staff member from the Department of Student Life. Student Life staff will determine if additional sessions are warranted based on his/her initial evaluation of the student.
- One year from the initial positive drug test date, a student may be eligible for re-entry testing. Re-entry testing with a negative result will be required before a student can be released for return to participation in clinical. Cost of retesting will be the student’s responsibility.
- The Nursing Compliance Coordinator will schedule a confidential meeting with the student, the Compliance Coordinator and Nursing Department Chair to inform them of the positive test result.
- The student may no longer be eligible to participate in clinical rotations resulting in failure of the student’s clinical course. In addition, the student may be permanently dismissed from the nursing program at William Jewell College. The student may not be permitted to reapply to the program.
Referrals to the Counseling Department
When counseling services for the purpose of assessment and/or treatment are required, the referring party will make known to the counseling provider a time frame when the assessment or treatment will be needed by the Nursing Department. This will allow the Counseling Department to schedule interviews in a timely manner. The student will be required to sign a release of information to allow communication between the counselor and the nursing department. Failure by the student to meaningfully participate in the evaluation/counseling process as defined by the counselor will be considered as a second offense.
Students who test positive for a banned substance may contest the finding within 48 hours following receipt of notice. A written request for appeal must be submitted to the Nursing Department Chair within the 48 hour time frame. The Nursing Department Chair or his/her designee will request the laboratory to perform confirmation testing on the student’s specimen. The second test findings will be final. If the second test results are negative, the drug test will be considered negative. If the second test findings are positive, the student will be responsible for any costs incurred with analysis.
William Jewell College Department of Nursing Drug Testing Consent
You must sign this form to participate in the nursing program at William Jewell College, per the requirements set forth by the department’s drug-testing policy. If you have any questions, you should discuss them with the Department of Nursing Clinical Compliance Coordinator or the Nursing Department Chair. This consent form must be signed at the start of each academic year.
By signing this form, you affirm that you are aware of the William Jewell College drug-testing program, which provides:
- A student who tests positive shall be subjected to the sanctions set forth by the departmental drug-testing policy.
- A student who tests positive has an opportunity to appeal the positive drug test.
- The penalty for missing a scheduled drug-test is the same as the penalty for testing positive for the use of a banned substance.
- Students incur the costs of drug screening. Students may petition the costs to be waived for costs associated with reasonable suspicion testing.