Substance Use & Misuse Policies


New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing (NYU Meyers) is committed to promoting health and a professional environment in which to learn and practice. When professional practice by healthcare professionals and students is impaired by the harmful and/or excessive use of substances, including alcohol, the delivery of safe and effective patient care is compromised.  Because hospitals and healthcare agencies have professional, legal, moral and ethical responsibilities to protect patients and employees from potential harm, many institutions have implemented drug-screening policies for health care professionals, student learners, and volunteers who provide care or interact with patients. Mandatory drug testing is a common and standard policy for all hospitals and healthcare agencies to which students must adhere. NYU Meyers College of Nursing’s Office of Clinical Affairs is responsible for ensuring that all students comply with hospital/healthcare agencies’ policies and regulatory requirements prior to commencing clinical rotations.  Additionally, all students must comply with the New York University Policies on Substance Use and Alcoholic Beverages: New York University Policies on Substance Use and Alcoholic Beverages


Rationale for Drug Testing Procedure

NYU Meyers recognizes its ethical responsibility in providing treatment options to a nursing student who may have substance use problems. Nursing students and the estimates of nurses who have problematic alcohol and other substance use disorders vary depending on the source but reach 15 percent, which is higher than the general population (National Council State Boards of Nursing [NCSBN], 2011). Nurses and nursing students also have unique addiction risk factors (Smith, 2013). Nursing students are specifically at-risk due to a lack of education regarding substance use, inconsistent policies, and lack of early intervention (McCulloh, Nemeth, Sommers, & Newman, 2015; McCulloh, Nemeth, Williams, Newman, & Sommers, 2015).

Most states now have alternative to discipline (ATD) programs which are intended to return the nurse to safe practice in a non-punitive fashion (NCBSN, 2011).  ATD programs show success in that nurses who complete these programs have lower recidivism (relapse) rates than the general population (NCBSN, 2011; Smith, 2013). The NCBSN (2011) supports and advocates for nursing schools to adopt the ATD model. The American Nurses Association endorses a joint position statement made by the Emergency Nurses Association and the International Nurses Society on Addiction that addresses the necessity for prevention, treatment, and recovery of nurses and nursing students with substance use problems (Strobbe & Crowley, 2016).


FEES: Students are responsible for all fees associated with drug screening tests. The average fee for drug testing is $45.00.



A 10-panel drug screen includes testing for the presence of amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cannabinoids, cocaine, opiates, Percocet, and phencyclidine.



  1. All students are required to complete drug testing at a facility designated by the American DataBank Company prior to their first off-campus clinical rotation.  Additional drug screens may be required during enrollment at NYU Meyers, as mandated by hospital and healthcare agencies. Students are responsible for all related additional fees.
  2. Students are required to disclose the use of any prescribed medications, which may result in a positive drug screen. If a student is not certain which prescribed medications can interfere with drug testing, the student should consult his/her healthcare provider or the Director of the Meyers College of Nursing’s Office of Clinical Affairs. All findings and related information on issues related to drug screening are confidential.
  3. Students are not permitted to attend off-campus clinical rotations until drug tests are completed and cleared by the NYU Meyers Office of Clinical Affairs.
  4. POSITIVE DRUG SCREEN: If the results of a positive drug screen are disputed by the student, the student may request a retest. The student is responsible for any costs associated with additional screening.  The retest must be discussed with the Director of Academic Clinical Affairs.  The results of the repeat drug screen must be “negative” in order for the student to be cleared to be in the clinical area.
    1. A “negative dilute” result is considered to be an inadequate specimen.
    2. If results of a drug screening are positive on a second test or determined to be “negative dilute”, after two successive screens, the student will not be permitted to attend any clinical rotations or any classes.
  5. Students who test positive for any of the drugs identified on the panel are required to be seen by the NYU Wellness Exchange for counseling. Follow up with the Director of Academic Clinical Affairs is required.
  6. The NYU Meyers Committee on Substance Use will review each student’s situation on a case-by-case basis.
  7. The NYU Meyers Committee on Substance Use Disorders, in collaboration with the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Programs, will determine future action for all nursing students whose drug screenings remain positive in subsequent testing.
  8. For those nursing students whose drug screenings remain positive, actions may include, but are not limited to:
    1. mandatory leave of absence, or,
    2. dismissal from the program.



Smith, J. 2013. Monitoring nurses with substance use disorders in New Jersey. Nursing Clinics of North America, 48(3), 465-468.

University of Michigan. (2017, May1). American Nurses Association endorses position statement on substance use among nurses and nursing students.

American Nurses Association (ANA). (2015). Code of ethics for nurses with interpretive statements. Silver Springs, MD: Author.

McCulloh Nair, J., Nemeth, L.S., Sommers, M., & Newman, S. (2015). Substance abuse policy among nursing students. Journal of Addictions Nursing, 26(4), 166-174

McCulloh Nair, J., Nemeth, L.S., Williams, P.H., Newman, S.D., & Sommers, M.S. (2015). Alcohol misuse among nursing students. Journal of Addictions Nursing, 26(2), 71-80

Strobbe, S., & Crowley, M.  (2016, September). Joint position statement: Substance use among nurses and nursing students. Retrieved from

National Council of State Boards of Nursing. (2011). Substance use disorder in nursing: a resource manual and guidelines for alternative and disciplinary monitoring programs. Retrieved from