Skip to content

Do CNAs Get Drug Tested?

In the article, we’ll cover the most commonly asked questions about drug testing for CNAs. When do CNAs get drug tested? How do CNAs get drug tested? And what substances are CNAs tested for?

With many jobs in the medical field, a drug test at some point is an inevitability and CNAs are no exception. In fact, you’ll usually have to pass a drug test before you can enroll in a CNA program and get your license.

When Do CNAs Get Drug Tested?

When Do CNAs Get Drug Tested?

To become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) you have to enroll in a CNA program. As part of the enrollment process, most schools will ask you to take a drug test. Drug testing usually takes place during orientation when you’ll be given 48 hours to complete the drug test requirement.

Once you’re qualified, many employers will also ask you to take a pre-hire drug test and some employers could also expect you to agree to random drug testing.

You may need to take a drug test after an accident that results in injury to yourself or a patient, this is known as post-accident drug testing.

CNAs are also subject to reasonable cause drug testing. Employers can ask you to take a drug test if they suspect that you’re under the influence of drugs because of the way you’re behaving.

Professionals in the medical field who have access to pharmaceutical drugs can also be required to take a drug test if drugs go missing.

Stealing medications is known as diverting and it’s taken very seriously. You can be caught up in a drug test for diversion even though you haven’t stolen any medications because some institutions will test an entire floor or department if drugs go missing.

How Do CNAs Get Drug Tested?

For your CNA program admission, you’ll have to take a urine drug test.

Most employers that require a drug test, such as hospitals and long-term care facilities, also use urinalysis testing, although you may be given a mouth swab drug test at other work sites.

Some employers won’t ask you to take a drug test at all, but the jobs with the highest pay are generally in facilities with stricter hiring policies.

Which Substances Do CNAs Get Drug Tested For?

The drugs you’ll be tested for depending on the requirements of your CNA program or employer.

At the very least your sample will be tested using a 5-panel drug screen. A 5-panel screen looks for the following commonly abused illegal drugs:

  • Opiates
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Amphetamines and methamphetamine
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

If you’re asked to take a 10-panel screen, you’ll also be tested for:

  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Methadone
  • Methaqualone
  • Propoxyphene

The 10-panel screen can be extended to include ecstasy and oxycodone.

See Also: Can A Felon Be A Nurse?

Drug Detection Time Limits

Before you apply for your CNA program or search for a job, it’s a good idea to make sure that drugs are out of your system. The length of time you’ll need to wait before you’re drug-free depends on the drugs you use and the type of test.

A 5-panel saliva test can only detect substances for 48 hours since last use, and the substances on a 10-panel screen can be detected for 72 hours at most.

5-Panel Urine Screen

The majority of drugs on a 5-panel drug screen don’t have a very long detection window but marijuana can show up for a prolonged period depending on your level of use.

With a urine drug test, opiates, cocaine, amphetamines, and methamphetamine can be detected for up to 4 days, and phencyclidine can show up for 14 days.

If you use marijuana, moderate use can be detected for up to 30 days, but heavy use will register for up to 90 days and sometimes even longer.

With marijuana, your body fat level plays a role in drug retention times. THC is the psychoactive component in marijuana, and drug tests look for THC metabolites in your urine.

When your body metabolizes THC, the metabolites are stored in your fat cells and then released slowly over time. The more body fat you have, the more metabolites you can store.

Because of this, the period that an individual will test positive for marijuana can vary a great deal.

10-Panel Urine Screen

The drugs tested on a 10-panel screen are also fairly short-lived with methadone and propoxyphene only being detectable for up to 72 hours, methaqualone for up to 4 days, and benzodiazepines and barbiturates for up to 7 days.

If oxycodone and ecstasy are included in a test, they have detection windows of up to 4 and 5 days, respectively.

What Happens If You Fail The CNA Program Drug Test?

What Happens If You Fail The CNA Program Drug Test?

The first thing that you should know is you can’t fail a drug test if you test positive because of a prescribed medication that you take. As long as you can show a valid prescription to the medical review officer, your test result will be amended.

What is a medical review officer? The medical review officer, or MRO, is a licensed physician who reviews positive drug test results.

If your sample comes up positive for a substance, the MRO will contact you and ask you about any medications you may take.

Without a valid prescription, though, you’ll fail the drug test.

A failed drug test means that you won’t be able to enroll in the CNA program.

What Happens If A CNA Fails A Drug Test?

As a licensed healthcare professional, you’ll be held to a high standard of behavior and accountability.

If you fail a drug test, you’ll almost certainly lose your job, and your CNA license will be at risk.

An employer has a legal obligation to report a positive drug test to your state nursing board. The nursing board will then initiate an investigation.

The investigation will look at the type of drug you tested positive for and the level of drug found. They’ll also determine if the level found shows that you were under the influence of the drug while you were working.

The board will then decide on a course of action which could lead to the suspension or revocation of your CNA license. If your license isn’t revoked, it’s likely that you’ll have to complete a drug rehabilitation or education program at your own expense and submit to regular testing.

If you fail a drug test and have to appear at a board hearing, you should hire an attorney who specializes in nursing licensing cases to attend the hearing with you.

Can A CNA Fail A Drug Test For Using Medical Marijuana?

Yes, you will fail a drug test if you test positive for marijuana, even if you use marijuana medicinally on the recommendation of your doctor.

If your state has legalized the use of medical marijuana, your doctor can recommend marijuana for your condition, but they can’t write you a prescription because marijuana is still a Schedule 1 illegal drug at the federal level.

Even if your state has included employment protections for medical marijuana users (most states haven’t) safety-sensitive jobs, which will include jobs in healthcare, are not covered by those protections.

Using marijuana or any other drug is not compatible with a career as a certified nursing assistant.

Quick Recap

If you’re planning a career as a CNA, it’s in your best interests to stop using illegal drugs. You’ll need to pass a drug test to get into most CNA programs and you’ll also face drug tests when you apply for jobs.

CNAs also face random drug testing, reasonable cause drug testing, post-accident drug testing, and drug testing when pharmaceutical medications go missing.

If you fail a drug test and don’t have a valid prescription for the substance you tested positive for, in most cases, you’ll lose your job, and you will also face the loss of your CNA license.

Read Also: