​Drug Testing Policy For Clinical Students

Background and Rationale

Columbia University Irving Medical Center is committed to assisting members of its community in facing the challenges associated with alcohol abuse and illicit drug use. The drug testing policy provides an opportunity for early identification and intervention before the consequences of such abuse adversely impacts a student’s health, professional growth, and patient care. Early intervention also provides for successful treatment without the involvement of formal disciplinary action or other sanctioning.

  1. Health care providers are entrusted with the health, safety, and welfare of patients; have access to confidential and sensitive information; and operate in settings that require the exercise of good judgment and ethical behavior. Thus, assessment of a student’s suitability to function in a clinical setting is imperative to promote integrity in health care services.
  2. Clinical facilities are increasingly required by the accreditation agency, Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (TJC), to provide a drug screening for security purposes on individuals who supervise care, render treatment, and provide services within the facility.
  3. Clinical rotations are an essential element in certain degree programs’ curricula. Increasingly these rotations require drug screening for student participation at their site. Students with a positive drug screen may be barred from certain rotations and thus are unable to fulfill degree program requirements. Identification of such students prior to clinical rotations will enable appropriate assessment and indicated treatment and follow-up.
  4. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and CUIMC require drug screening of all employees. It is appropriate for clinical students to meet the same standards for the reasons stated above.


Preclinical drug testing is required of all students in the clinical schools at CUIMC.


Learn more about drug testing for clinical students.