Aiken, SC asked in Health Care Law for Georgia

Q: Can a nursing school force students into hospital clinical during COVID?

I am a Georgia student who is in a nursing program that is requiring us to take clinical rotations in hospitals to progress in our degree. If we refuse, we cannot continue in the program and we aren't sure how long this crisis will last. We feel as though our hand is forced to accept clinical rotations or drop the program until COVID ends. There are preapproved online alternatives to clinical that are accepted by the Georgia board of nursing. Can they still force us go or would this be considered something along the lines of forced consent under duress?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Tim Akpinar
Tim Akpinar
  • Little Neck, NY

A: This is something that a Georgia attorney could best advise on, but your post remains open for four weeks. It's difficult to say what the outcome for this would be. It could depend on the wording of the school's agreement with students, including whether it addresses unforeseeable events such as the pandemic. The school could probably make a compelling argument that clinical nursing experience is not substitutable, and as students, you could probably make a compelling argument as to the serious risks in completing the program on its original terms. It doesn't appear to be a matter of duress, which is generally associated with pressure, threats, or other more aggressive and forcible measures. One option is to review the contract with a Georgia attorney (or an attorney in the jurisdiction whose laws the agreement stipulates will govern the handling of disputes) for their opinion. Good luck

Tim Akpinar

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