Two female nursing student using a tablet to discuss drug testing in nursing school.

Do You Get Drug Tested in Nursing School?

Yes, drug testing is commonly conducted in nursing schools to ensure the safety and well-being of patients, as well as to uphold professional standards. As a Nursing students you are required to undergo regular scheduled testing as well as random unscheduled testing. The tests typically screen for common illicit drugs and prescription medications. If a test comes back positive, there can be serious consequences for the student. Therefore, it is crucial for you to understand their school’s policies and maintain a drug-free lifestyle.

When Drug Tests are Conducted

Regular Scheduled Testing

Nursing schools often have a policy of conducting regular scheduled drug testing throughout the duration of the program. These tests are typically conducted at specific intervals, such as at the beginning of each semester or on a monthly basis.

Regular testing helps to deter substance abuse and provides an ongoing assurance that students are maintaining a drug-free lifestyle. It also allows schools to identify students who may be struggling with substance abuse and provide them with the necessary support and resources to overcome their challenges.

Random Unscheduled Testing

In addition to regular scheduled testing, nursing schools may also conduct random unscheduled drug testing. These tests are conducted without prior notice, which helps to prevent students from manipulating the results by abstaining from drug use leading up to a scheduled test.

Random testing ensures that students are consistently adhering to a drug-free lifestyle and provides a more accurate assessment of their commitment to patient safety and professional standards.

What Substances are Tested For

Common Illicit Drugs

Drug tests in nursing schools typically screen for common illicit drugs, including but not limited to:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
  • Opioids
  • Methamphetamines
  • Ecstasy

The purpose of testing for these substances is to identify any potential substance abuse issues that could compromise patient safety and professional standards.

Prescription Medications

You may also be tested for prescription medications, especially those that have the potential for abuse or impair cognitive and physical function. These may include:

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Opioid pain medications
  • Stimulants

Testing for prescription medications helps to ensure that students are not misusing or diverting these drugs, which could have serious consequences for patient care.

What Happens if a Test is Positive

Initial Response from the School

If a drug test comes back positive, the nursing school will typically conduct further investigations to verify the results. This may involve retesting the sample or requesting additional information from the student. It is important to note that false positives can occur, so the school will take appropriate steps to confirm the accuracy of the test.

Potential Consequences for Students

If a positive test result is confirmed, the nursing school may impose disciplinary actions against the student. The severity of the consequences will depend on various factors, including the school’s policies, the nature of the substance abuse, and the student’s history. Possible consequences may include:

  • Mandatory counseling or rehabilitation programs
  • Temporary suspension from the nursing program
  • Probationary status
  • Expulsion from the program

Understanding the School’s Policies

Before starting nursing school, it is crucial for students to familiarize themselves with the school’s drug testing policies. This includes knowing the frequency of tests, the substances that are screened for, and the potential consequences of a positive result.

Remember that a positive test result can have serious consequences, so it is in their best interest to maintain a drug-free lifestyle and seek help if they are struggling with substance abuse. By doing so, you can increase their chances of success in your education and future careers in nursing.


Q: Are nursing students required to pay for their own drug tests?
Yes, nursing students are typically responsible for covering the cost of their own drug tests. The cost can vary depending on the testing facility and the type of test being conducted.

Q: Can prescription medications with a valid prescription result in a positive drug test?
It is possible for certain prescription medications to result in a positive drug test, even with a valid prescription. Disclose any medications they are taking to the testing facility to avoid any potential misunderstandings.

Q: Are nursing students required to disclose their prescription medications to the school?
Some nursing schools may require students to disclose their prescription medications to ensure transparency and prevent any potential conflicts of interest. Familiarize yourself with your school’s policies regarding the disclosure of prescription medications.

Q: Can nursing students be tested for alcohol during drug testing?
While alcohol is not typically included in routine drug testing for nursing students, some schools may conduct separate alcohol testing if there are concerns about substance abuse. Adhere to a drug-free lifestyle, which includes responsible alcohol consumption.

Q: Can nursing students be drug tested outside of the school setting?
Yes, nursing students may be subject to drug testing outside of the school setting, such as during clinical placements or when applying for licensure. Be aware of the drug testing policies of the institutions they are affiliated with and to comply with any testing requirements.

Q: Can a positive drug test result affect a nursing student’s future career opportunities?
Yes, a positive drug test result can have long-term consequences for a nursing student’s future career opportunities. It may impact their ability to secure employment and obtain a nursing license. Prioritize a drug-free lifestyle to protect their professional reputation and opportunities.

Q: What resources are available to nursing students struggling with substance abuse?
Nursing schools often have resources available for students struggling with substance abuse, such as counseling services, support groups, and referrals to rehabilitation programs. Reach out for help if they are facing challenges with substance abuse.

Q: Can nursing students be retested after a positive drug test?
Yes, nursing students may be retested after a positive drug test to verify the accuracy of the initial result. Cooperate with any retesting procedures and provide any additional information requested by the school.

Q: Can nursing students be subject to drug testing after graduation?
While drug testing requirements may vary after graduation, nursing students should be aware that some healthcare facilities and employers may require drug testing as part of the hiring process. Maintain a drug-free lifestyle throughout their careers to ensure patient safety and maintain professional standards.