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Nursing Substance Abuse Policy

Nursing Substance Abuse Policy

Academic and Student Affairs
Date enacted or revised: 
December 29, 2003
Policy Statement Regarding Impaired Nursing Students

The faculty in the College of Nursing (CON) believes that they have a legal, professional, and ethical responsibility to provide a safe teaching and learning environment for students and for patients who receive nursing care from students.  In order to accomplish this, nursing students must not be chemically impaired while participating in any learning experience including those occurring in a classroom, laboratory, or clinical setting.  Students must demonstrate critical thinking, interpersonal communication, and behavorial competencies in caring for individuals, families, groups, and communities as outlined in the McNeese State University College of Nursing Student Handbook (p. 6).

The College of Nursing follows McNeese State University's policy prohibiting the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by students.  Violators will be subject to disciplinary action by the University according to University policy (see current McNeese State University catalog, MSU Code of Student Conduct, and MSU CON Student Handbook).

The nursing faculty defines the chemically impaired student as a person who, while in the academic or clinical setting, is abusing, either separately or in combination:  alcohol, over-the-counter medications, illegal drugs, prescribed medications, inhalants, or synthetic designer drugs.  Abuse of substances includes episodic misuse or chronic use that has produced psychological and/or physical symptoms.

The problem of chemical impairment must be proactively addressed when identified with the nursing student population.  The nurse faculty will internvene with the chemically impaired student as outlined in the Procedure for Faculty Intervention with Impaired Nursing Students.

The faculty in the College of Nursing abides by the Louisiana State Board of Nursing (LSBN) regulations that pertain to chemically dependent students.  These regulations will be communicated to students upon application to clinical nursing courses and prior to licensure as a new graduate.  Students who indicate prior or current substance abuse use will be directed to the LSBN if their usage resulted in a legal arrest and/or court action.  Faculty discovered or student confessed use of chemical substances will be treated as outlined in the Procedure for Faculty Intervention with Impaired Students.

Procedure for Faculty Intervention with Impaired Students

When there is reasonable suspicion or cause to believe that a student is or has recently been under the influence of any drug or alcohol, drug or alcohol testing of students is authorized under this policy allowing the Dean of the College of Nursing, or her designee, to direct a student to undergo testing.

In keeping with the purpose of this drug policy, MSU CON views that discretion must be given to faculty and staff in recognizing the usual signs and symptoms of alcohol and drug use.  In that respect, the following is a listing of what MSU CON deems possible signs and symptoms of drug or alcohol use:

a.  Frequent absences from class, clinical or lab and/or disappearance from such.
b.  Isolation and withdrawal.
c.  Patient care errors particularly medication errors.
d.  Detectable odor of alcohol.
e.  Increasingly poor decision and judgment about patient care.
f.  Illogical or sloppy charting.
g.  Unusual accidents/incidents.
h.  Deteriorating personal appearance.
i.  Changes in motor function/behavioral patterns including personality changes, mood swings, illogical thought patterns, gait
    disturbances, impaired dexterity, slurred speech, drowsiness/sleepiness, and papillary changes.

When such signs and/or symptoms are observed in a student, the faculty member will notify the Dean or designee immediately.  The Dean or designee will go to the  campus/clinical area and direct the student to submit to drug/alcohol testing and sign a consent form agreeing to submit to such testing and witnessed by two University representatives.  Failure to agree to such testing shall be considered as admission of violation to the student's responsibilities as it relates to this policy and shall be sufficient cause to allow action by the Dean as allowed under this policy.  If the student refused the test, he/she shall sign a refusal form.  This information shall be noted on the form and witnessed by two University representatives.  Refusal to sign any of these forms may result in immediate dismissal from the CON.

Within one hour of completion of required consent form, the student shall report to an approved lab, which uses the chain of custody procedure for blood and/or urine testing at the student's expense.  A University representative will verify the student's identity prior to specimen collection.  The student may not drive a motor vehicle to this lab and will be responsible for all transportation costs.

The student may not attend class or clinical activities until the Dean or designee reviews the lab results.

Results of the tests will be kept confidential and will be reported to the Dean or her designee who will then meet with the student to discuss the results and ramifications.

A positive blood alcohol and/or urine drug screen test will subject the student to sanctions, which may include suspension or dismissal  from the CON/University.