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POL 02.05.03 - chemical substance and impairment testing Policy for nursing students

Authority: Chancellor

History:

  • First issued: January 24, 2012

Related Policies:

Additional References:

Contact Information: Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, (910) 521-6211

1. POLICY STATEMENT

1.1 The Department of Nursing at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP) is committed to providing a safe, healthy, and productive academic environment for its students, faculty, and staff, as well as providing a safe clinical setting for students, clients, and employees of affiliated clinical agencies. UNCP’s goal for maintaining a drug-free workplace and academic environment is in compliance with the federal Drug Free Workplace Act of 1988, and in accordance with the UNCP Drug and Alcohol Policyand University of North Carolina Policy 1300.1 - Illegal Drugs. Therefore, students must remain free from the use, sale, distribution or possession of any illegal drug and must also remain free of impairment related to the use of drugs or alcohol.

1.2 For obvious health and safety concerns, all students enrolled in programs offered by the Department of Nursing must participate in clinical education activities in full control of their manual dexterity and skills, mental faculties, and judgment. The presence of alcohol and/or drugs, lawfully prescribed or otherwise, which interfere with the student’s judgment or motor coordination in a healthcare setting poses an unacceptable risk to clients, faculty, other students, the university, and affiliated clinical agencies (i.e., hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, health systems, and other healthcare organizations involved with student education and with which the university has a clinical affiliation agreement in place).  To ensure client safety, and comply with clinical agency policies as well as 21 NC Administrative Code 36.0320, the Department of Nursing has adopted a chemical substance abuse and impairment testing policy.

2.  DEFINITIONS

2.1 Nursing student. Any full-time or part-time student admitted to the Department of Nursing which includes all degree programs.

2.2 Chemical substance abuse. The use of illegal/non-prescribed substances or alcohol that impairs performance when engaging in any learning activity including classes, laboratory, and/or delivery of client care in a clinical setting.

2.3 Chemical substance abuse testing. The scientific analysis of urine, blood, breath, saliva, hair, tissue, and other specimens of the human body for the purpose of detecting a drug or alcohol.  For the purposes of this policy, two types of testing may occur:

2.3.a. Pre-clinical testing. Chemical substance abuse testing conducted on all students prior to engaging in a clinical experience and/or providing direct client care at an affiliated clinical agency. 

2.3.b. Reasonable suspicion testing. Chemical substance abuse testing conducted on a student because individualized and objective evidence exists to support the conclusion that a student (1) has engaged in the use of alcohol and/or illegal drugs in violation of applicable policies, laws, and regulations; or (2) appears to be impaired. Facts that could give rise to reasonable suspicion include, without limitation: observed possession or use of illegal drugs or alcohol; the odor of alcohol or drugs; impaired behavior such as slurred speech; decreased motor coordination; difficulty in maintaining balance; marked changes in personality or academic performance or behavior; reports of observed drug or alcohol use; an arrest or conviction for a drug or alcohol related offense; positive pre-clinical or other drug tests; or newly discovered evidence of drug test tampering.

2.4 Impaired. A person’s mental or physical capabilities are reduced below their normal levels (with or without any reasonable accommodation for disability). An impaired student, by virtue of his/her use of alcohol or illegal drugs, exhibits deteriorated motor/psychomotor function, reduced conceptual/integrative/synthetic thought processes, and/or diminished judgment and attentiveness compared with previous observations of the student’s conduct and performance. For the purposes of this policy, the term impaired shall also mean addiction and/or physical or mental dependence upon alcohol, as well as legal or illegal drugs.

2.5 Illegal drug. For the purposes of this policy means:

2.5.a. any drug which is not legally obtainable;

2.5.b. any drug which is legally obtainable, but has not been legally obtained;

2.5.c. any prescribed drug not being used for the prescribed purpose, in the prescribed dosage and manner, or by the person for whom it was prescribed;

2.5.d. any over-the-counter drug being used at a dosage other than the recommended dosage, or being used for a purpose other than the purpose intended by the manufacturer; and

2.5.e. any drug being used in a manner that is not consistent with established medical practice standards.

2.5.1 Specific drugs screened for abuse include: alcohol, amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cocaine, marijuana (THC), methadone, methamphetamines, opiates, oxycodone, phencyclidine (PCP).

3. PROCEDURE

3.1 Agreement to Submit to Chemical Substance Abuse Testing

3.1.1 A student participating in a Department of Nursing degree program must agree to submit to pre-clinical testing and reasonable suspicion testing when circumstances warrant such testing. The student shall sign an acknowledgment and consent form (Attachment A) that evidences the student’s consent to:

3.1.1.a. comply with the Department of Nursing policies pertaining to alcohol and illegal drugs;

3.1.1.b. comply with all policies and regulations of affiliated clinical agencies pertaining to alcohol and illegal drugs;

3.1.1.c. submit to pre-clinical testing, reasonable suspicion drug testing under this policy, and in the event an affiliated clinical agency requires random drug testing pursuant to its policies, to submit to random drug testing; and

3.1.1.d. authorize the disclosure of drug testing results to the chair of the Department of Nursing.

3.1.2 The Department of Nursing will maintain on file a signed acknowledgment and consent to chemical substance screening from each student. Refusal to sign the acknowledgment and consent form shall be grounds for non-placement in clinical experiences and subsequent dismissal from the nursing degree program. A clear chemical substance screen is required to begin or continue in the nursing program. If the student leaves the program for any reason, a new chemical substance screen will be required before readmission into any classes.

3.2 Pre-Clinical Chemical Substance Screening

3.2.1 Students will be notified about the chemical substance screening in their admission letter.

3.2.2 Students in the pre-licensure BSN program will be required to complete a pre-clinical chemical substance screening during the first semester of the program, again prior to the senior year, and/or as required by an affiliated clinical agency.

3.2.3 Students in the RN-BSN completion and MSN programs will be required to complete a pre-clinical chemical substance screening prior to enrolling in the first clinical course.

3.2.4 Pre-clinical chemical substance testing will be coordinated through the office of the chair of the Department of Nursing, and will be conducted by a qualified vendor approved by the university. The cost of drug testing shall be borne by the student. The student shall be provided with a list of drugs for testing as may be required by either the nursing program or an affiliated clinical agency.

3.2.5 Positive pre-clinical chemical substance tests will be confirmed by a second screen from the original sample.

3.2.6 The chair of the Department of Nursing will notify a student of a confirmed positive chemical substance test.

3.2.7 A student having a confirmed positive chemical substance screen will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from the nursing program, in accordance with established Department of Nursing disciplinary policies and procedures. Positive chemical substance tests will also be referred to the Office of Student Conduct for investigation and university discipline if warranted.

3.2.8 A student’s failure to submit to pre-clinical chemical substance testing, or any attempt to tamper with, contaminate or switch a sample will result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from the nursing program.

3.3 Reasonable Suspicion Chemical Substance Abuse Screening

3.3.1 Reasonable suspicion substance abuse screening may be conducted when individualized and objective evidence exists to support the conclusion that a student: (1) has engaged in the use of alcohol and/or illegal drugs in violation of applicable policies, laws, and regulations; or (2) appears to be impaired.

3.3.2 Evidence of a student’s use of alcohol and/or illegal drugs or impairment may be provided to a Department of Nursing faculty member by any individual, including employees of affiliated clinical agencies.

3.3.3 When individualized reasonable suspicion is found to exist, the faculty member begins the documentation process by completing the Faculty Report of Reasonable Suspicion of Chemical Substance Abuse by a Nursing Student Form (Attachment B).

3.3.4 Once reasonable suspicion is determined by a faculty member and the student has been confronted by the faculty member who documents the suspected conduct, the student will be removed from the learning environment. The faculty member shall notify the chair of the Department of Nursing or, in the absence of the chair, a designee, and submit the Faculty Report of Reasonable Suspicion of Chemical Substance Abuse by a Nursing Student Form to the chair or designee.

3.3.5 The faculty member who reported the reasonable suspicion will coordinate the screening procedure with the chair of the Department of Nursing or, in the absence of the chair, a designee. Determination of whether drug testing is warranted under the facts and circumstances shall be made by the chair or designee of the Department of Nursing and the general counsel. Upon determination the student shall receive a Notice of Chemical Substance Abuse Screening (Attachment C). The cost of chemical substance testing shall be borne by the student. No advance notice to the student is required for reasonable suspicion testing.

3.3.6 The student shall be provided with a list of drugs for testing as may be required by either the nursing program or an affiliated clinical agency.

3.3.7 Positive reasonable suspicion drug tests will be confirmed by a second screen from the original sample.

3.3.8 The chair of the Department of Nursing will notify a student of a confirmed positive chemical substance test.

3.3.9 A student having a confirmed positive chemical substance screen will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from the nursing program, in accordance with established Department of Nursing disciplinary policies and procedures. Positive chemical substance tests will also be referred to Office of Student Conduct for investigation and university discipline if warranted.

3.3.10 A student’s failure to submit to reasonable suspicion drug testing, or any attempt to tamper with, contaminate or switch a sample will result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from the nursing program.

3.4 Voluntary Admission of Substance Abuse

3.4.1 A student, who voluntarily reports to the Department of Nursing faculty or administrators that he/she has a substance abuse problem, will be assisted by the chair of the Department of Nursing to obtain services through the university Student Health Services and/or Counseling and Psychological Services.

3.4.2 Continued participation in the nursing program will be at the discretion of the chair of the Department of Nursing.

3.5 Readmission after a Positive Chemical Substance Screen

3.5.1 Any student who is unable to complete the clinical component of required courses due to a positive chemical substance screen may apply for readmission to the nursing program. To be considered for readmission, the following conditions must be met:

3.5.1.a. complete a substance abuse treatment program approved by the UNCP Department of Nursing;

3.5.1.b. have the approved treatment agency submit a letter to the chair of the Department of Nursing verifying completion of a substance abuse treatment program;

3.5.1.c. submit to an unannounced chemical substance screen at the student’s expense prior to readmission (a positive screen will result in ineligibility for readmission); and

3.5.1.d. submit to random chemical substance screens as required by the Department of Nursing while enrolled in the nursing program. A positive screen, at any time, will result in permanent dismissal from the Department of Nursing.

3.5.2 Any student seeking readmission must reapply in accordance with the readmission procedure in the UNCP Department of Nursing Student Handbook.

4. CONFIDENTIALITY

4.1 Individual test results of the chemical substance screen will not be provided to clinical facilities. No release of information will be made without the student’s written consent, unless in response to appropriate judicial process such as a subpoena or court order. There will be a group list of those qualified to attend a clinical course as a result of the pre-clinical screening process.

5. APPEALS

5.1 A student may avail him/herself of any appeal procedure relating to any Department of Nursing action taken under this policy, as outlined in the UNCP Department of Nursing Student Handbook and the UNCP Student Handbook.

6. CONSEQUENCES OF PERMISSABLE DRUG USE

6.1 Some of the classes of drugs for which screening will be conducted are available by prescription from health care practitioners. Prescription drugs prescribed to a student by an appropriate health care practitioner may nevertheless be subject to abuse. The fact that a student has a prescription for one or more of the classes of drugs which are legally prescribed by a health care practitioner does not necessarily, in and of itself, excuse the student from the effect of this policy.

6.2 When a student is prescribed medications that may impair cognitive and/or motor functions, the Department of Nursing expects the student not to attend clinical or laboratory courses while impaired by the prescribed medication. If the faculty observes changes in appearance or behavior that is reasonably interpretable as being caused by properly used prescribed medications, if in the clinical setting, the student will negotiate transportation from the clinical facility and not return until the cognitive and/or motor impairment is resolved. The student will continue to be held to the course attendance requirements. The student may be required to have a physician’s written endorsement that he/she is safe to practice nursing while taking prescribed medications before being permitted to return to the clinical or laboratory setting.

 

Updated: Wednesday, August 14, 2013

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