Do Nurses Get Drug Tested?

Amanda Thomas Apr 11, 2024
Nurse Drug Testing Form

A nursing student’s life involves taking many tests and exams, but there’s one test you can’t study for —drug testing.

With the responsibility of caring for clients, nurses need to be free from the influence of drugs while on duty.

So, do nurses get drug tested?

Yes, but let’s dive deeper into this topic.

Jump to Sections

Drug Tests During the Hiring Process

Drug testing is part of the hiring process when applying for nursing positions.

This initial drug screening typically includes tests for common substances like:

  • Amphetamines
  • Opioids
  • THC (found in marijuana)
  • And more

Why Do Nurses Get Drug Tested?

Drug testing serves several purposes in the nursing profession.

It helps keep clients safe by ensuring nurses aren’t impaired while on duty.

Nurses have a critical role in client care. Any impairment, whether from drugs or alcohol, can affect a nurse’s ability to make safe decisions and provide quality care.

It protects the reputation and integrity of the health care facility.

Hospitals and health care facilities want to maintain a positive reputation. Implementing drug testing policies helps make sure staff members are professional, responsible, and drug-free.

Drug testing can also identify any potential substance abuse problems early on.

If a nurse tests positive for drugs, it could be an indicator of a larger substance abuse issue.

By identifying and addressing the problem early on, nurses can get the help they need.

What Happens if a Nurse Tests Positive for Drugs like THC?

With the legalization of marijuana in many states, the question, “Can nurses smoke weed?” might come up.

The short answer is that it depends. If a nurse tests positive for drugs, including THC from marijuana use or the consumption of delta-8 THC products in the form of gummies, consequences can vary depending on the employer’s policies and state regulations.

According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, a positive drug test may result in the following disciplinary actions:

  • A civil penalty or fine
  • A public reprimand or censure
  • A referral to a recovery support program
  • Probation
  • Remediation (educational content or exercise)
  • Revocation or voluntary surrender of license
  • Suspension

Nurses also need to be aware of their workplace’s policies regarding drug use.

Is the Drug Testing Process Very Different for Travel Nurses?

For travel nurses who work in temporary assignments across different health care settings, the drug testing process is similar to that of permanent staff.

Agencies and facilities will still require drug screenings as part of the onboarding process to ensure compliance with safety and regulatory standards.

What Kind of Drug Tests Do Nursing Schools Use?

Students can expect to undergo drug testing during nursing school as part of their clinical placement requirements.

Common methods include:

  • Blood: This test measures drugs and alcohol present in the bloodstream, providing a more accurate indication of recent drug use.
  • Hair: A hair follicle test costs more but can detect drug use over a longer period, up to 90 days.
  • Saliva: A saliva swab can detect drug use within the past 48 hours.
  • Urine: Nursing schools commonly use urine tests that can detect drugs present in the body from a few hours to a few days after use.

How Often Do You Get Drug Tested in Nursing School?

The frequency of drug testing in nursing school can vary based on the program’s policies and clinical placement requirements.

Nursing schools test students at the beginning of their program and periodically throughout clinical rotations. Be aware of your school’s policies and the standards set by your future employers to make sure you’re in compliance.

In short: Stay informed, stay prepared, and prioritize client safety.

Get the Tools To Succeed in Nursing School

Understanding drug testing in nursing school is just one aspect of preparing for a successful health care career.

It’s important to also focus on learning and mastering the necessary skills and knowledge to provide safe, compassionate, and competent care. SimpleNursing offers comprehensive study materials and test prep resources to help you excel in nursing.

Feel confident heading to exams by getting access to our:

  • Animated video content
  • Cheat sheets
  • NCLEX readiness assessments
  • Personalized study plan
  • And more

Start preparing for a successful career by signing up for a free trial of SimpleNursing today!

Want to ace Nursing School Exams & the NCLEX?

Make topics click with easy-to-understand videos & more. We've helped over 1,000,000 students & we can help you too.


Nursing students trust SimpleNursing

Simplenursing student
I cannot express enough gratitude for Nurse Mike and this wonderful platform he has created. I had a subscription to SimpleNursing the entire 2 years of my nursing school career and it was the best resource I had available to me. The visuals, the explanations, the memory tricks, the songs, the study guides, and the test questions are brilliant.
read more
Simplenursing student
Before starting nursing school, I was a C-average student. I didn't think I'd be competent enough and make it through my second semester. I was told about SimpleNursing and purchased it immediately. Long story short, I graduated nursing school with honors and passed all of my classes with As and Bs only. I would have never been able to do that without the help of SimpleNursing. Nurse Mike teaches in the only way that I am able to learn and I cannot thank him enough.
read more