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For-Profit NP admissions... I thought they were joking!

Posted

Specializes in ICU + Infection Prevention. Has 9 years experience.

This is a story about how I got accepted to a big name online for-profit:

A phone number kept calling me incessantly for weeks... I finally answered, prepared for my usual, "I'm on the no-call list so please remove me from your call list." It was a rep from some school I hadn't heard of, but apparently I'd filled out some webform.

Had I? OK... "are you good to go in my state? Well, I'm not interested but... OK I'll look at your application." I'd filled out the whole application in about 10 minutes while on the phone with the rep with 6 questions:

"Where do I submit my references information?"

"Where do I submit my CV?"

"Transcripts?"

"What are the application essay guidelines?"

"What is the interview like?"

"Is there an application fee?"

The answers were: "we don't need references, no CV, only transcripts for your BSN (not the other 5 schools), no essay, no interview, no fees."

I almost asked if they were a real school or if this was some kind of joke, but I played along because I was thoroughly amused. I sent one transcript, worth $5 for my amusement. Then I hit the internet to learn about this school.

I learned the school is a for-profit. Oh..... now it makes sense! I learned Walden doesn't have a physical campus, only office buildings that house the servers, executives, and recruiters (aka admissions advisors). Perusing threads on this forum only darkened the reputation. Yet, they are accredited by HLC and CCNE.

36 hours later I received my acceptance email. I declined. The admissions advisor started leaving me voicemails implying I must have clicked on the wrong button... I could still change my mind. I wrote him an email politely informing him I'd declined. He left me another voicemail that was distinctly aggravated.

I'm not opposed to the idea of online programs, but there have to be standards because a profession is perceived and regulated by its lowest common denominator. This selection process for lowest common denominator in NP education is a joke. No entry standards lets in good students too, but don't filter the subpar. It implies the standards once in the program won't be high either. The bar for admission should be higher than a RN license, a pulse, and the ability to sign off on student loans.

Edited by SummitRN

Bumex, DNP, NP

Specializes in Assistant Professor, Nephrology, Internal Medicine. Has 11 years experience.

Agreed 100%. I know there are certainly individuals out there that put in great work to online schools, but sometimes the really poor students make it through. If we are going to be taken seriously by the medical community (and the public for that matter), we need to really step up our game for educational foundations. Higher standards, more academic rigor, and harder boards.

LibraSunCNM, MSN

Specializes in OB. Has 10 years experience.

I'm a CNM, and I lurk around the APN and NP boards from time to time for fun because the CNM board is pretty quiet. I've seen it mentioned here that there is no single accrediting body for NP programs (I've seen HLC and CCNE mentioned, perhaps there are even more?), which is different than for CNM programs, who do have just one (ACME). What is the deal there? It seems like that's a huge part of the problem of sub-par NP programs flying under the radar. How did it come to pass that there isn't a unified front and why do you think the NP profession allows it? I guess I don't really know how a profession decides to create accrediting bodies in the first place, so I'm in the dark in general, but I'm confused as to why the proliferation of sub-par programs isn't being fought tooth and nail by NP organizations. They want to see the number of NPs grow so substantially that they don't care at what cost to the profession? Seems weird.

juan de la cruz, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in APRN, Adult Critical Care, General Cardiology. Has 27 years experience.

I'm a CNM, and I lurk around the APN and NP boards from time to time for fun because the CNM board is pretty quiet. I've seen it mentioned here that there is no single accrediting body for NP programs (I've seen HLC and CCNE mentioned, perhaps there are even more?), which is different than for CNM programs, who do have just one (ACME). What is the deal there? It seems like that's a huge part of the problem of sub-par NP programs flying under the radar. How did it come to pass that there isn't a unified front and why do you think the NP profession allows it? I guess I don't really know how a profession decides to create accrediting bodies in the first place, so I'm in the dark in general, but I'm confused as to why the proliferation of sub-par programs isn't being fought tooth and nail by NP organizations. They want to see the number of NPs grow so substantially that they don't care at what cost to the profession? Seems weird.

The NP field is one of the most fractured and disjointed fields in nursing. If anything, it's a representation of nursing itself with the use of vague and "touchy feely" verbiage in defining its role yet allowing all the infighting between camps.

Without having to construct a diagram (which is quite hard to do on an allnurses post), I will attempt to shed light on some of the disconnected entities that govern NP practice:

AACN is the national group of colleges of nursing (every single college or university that offer BSN to PhD/DNP) and their CCNE arm accredits all nursing programs at the college or university level...even CRNA and CNM programs are accredited by them. NLNAC now changed their name to ACEN and they once were a strong force in accreditation but their power has been relinquished to CCNE as they mostly accredit nursing programs in junior colleges.

CCNE is who NP programs rely on for accreditation, an entity that is not vested in NP education alone but all forms of nursing education. When an institution is CCNE accredited, it can mean their BSN, MS/MSN, and PhD/DNP programs are accredited.

NP's are represented by a multitude of organizations that make policy and position statements but stay in paper for the most part in my opinion:

AANP - represents all NP's in the US as our national association. They don't accredit schools or programs but they offer certification programs for some NP's but...just the FNP's and AGPCNP's and now their are selling an ENP certification that shuts out ACNP's who are working in ED's, talk about not being inclusive!

ANCC - an arm of ANA with their other profit making scheme (Magnet Certification for hospitals) is a certification arm for NP's but not all (again fractured!)...they offer FNP, AGPCNP, AGACNP, PNP-PC, FPMHNP certification. They keep changing their certification letters through the years on a whim and will retire certain certifications if they don't sell enough! (RIP GNP certification). The CNS issue is another one but we're talking NP's here. Note that they are competing with AANP as they also offer FNP and AGPCNP certification.

Amer Assoc of Crit Care Nurses - offers AGACNP exam in direct competition with ANCC's similar exam.

PNCB - offers certification for Peds NP's bot primary and acute care. Note that again, they are in competition with ANCC for the PNP-PC exam.

NCC - offers WHNP and NNP certification. They are quiet and peaceful in my eyes...very much like the mother baby type certification they offer.

NONPF - a national organization of NP faculty members...hmmm what do they really do? well, come up with statements and curricular recommendation but have no power to enforce them, that's what I think.

These are the players in the NP world who seem quite happy in their little corners while the profession seem to be in disarray!

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

Thanks for sharing your experience, SummitRN. Some of us have been trying to warn people about such programs for years -- but some people seem determined to ignore us. Maybe your story will open a few eyes -- and minds -- to the fact that some of these programs have made it too easy for students to "buy" a degree.

stickit34

Specializes in Pediatrics. Has 5 years experience.

This disturbs me. It's hard enough to promote the profession amongst other healthcare providers, but when you have schools like this accepting and pumping out students who should not have been accepted in the first place (not towards you, OP) is absolutely ludicrous. Not every nurse should be a nurse practitioner. The profession should organize their own accrediting body and separate from these other certifying bodies, because clearly they're doing a crappy job.

And people wonder why they can't pass certification boards when they graduate from these programs...

BCgradnurse, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in allergy and asthma, urgent care. Has 12 years experience.

I agree with the above, but want to mention that all on line programs are not for profit. Many well established reputable brick and mortar schools also have on-line components. They are NOT the same as the online for-profit schools. The Waldens of the world are a different story. The pay for a degree programs should be approached with caution.

No, those schools are out there, and plenty of people within nursing who either don't know any better or just don't care are going to them.

juan de la cruz, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in APRN, Adult Critical Care, General Cardiology. Has 27 years experience.

There are certainly easily distinguishable qualities of for-profit schools and they shouldn't be confused with private schools and many other types of schools that have utilized online education as a modality of instruction. For profits have a pattern of predatory admission tactics in the same way the OP described the admission experience. It's always the tagline that " we will get you in and out with a degree against all odds" and they will offer help with loans and some even have their own financial institution offering the loan. They can do that because they are under a larger corporate parent entity that are oftentimes worldwide in scope. They used to be common in the non-degree trades but have infiltrated professional fields such as Business, Psychology, Law, offshore Medical schools, and sadly, Nursing.

oystersinmay, MSN, APRN

Has 7 years experience.

If you're having issues garnering respect from your peers then it probably has nothing to do, directly, with the school you've obtained your np degree from. Walden NP grad here. I work for one of the most well-regarded research facilities in the country, and no one questions where I received my degree.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

If you're having issues garnering respect from your peers then it probably has nothing to do, directly, with the school you've obtained your np degree from. Walden NP grad here. I work for one of the most well-regarded research facilities in the country, and no one questions where I received my degree.

One can always find examples of good people who go to not-so-good schools -- and they often end up doing just fine. One can also find example of weak individuals who manage to graduate from strong programs and who remain poor-quality nurses. That is always the case.

However, for both groups (people with strong natural ability and those with poor natural ability) -- your chances of being successful in the long run are greater if you go to a high-quality school. Your chances are lower if you go to a low-quality school.

Exceptions are just that -- exceptions -- They are not the norm. I am happy that you have been successful in your career. But in the end, I will always advise students to go to a high-quality, rigorous, reputable program if they have the chance.

One can always find examples of good people who go to not-so-good schools -- and they often end up doing just fine. One can also find example of weak individuals who manage to graduate from strong programs and who remain poor-quality nurses. That is always the case.

However, for both groups (people with strong natural ability and those with poor natural ability) -- your chances of being successful in the long run are greater if you go to a high-quality school. Your chances are lower if you go to a low-quality school.

Exceptions are just that -- exceptions -- They are not the norm. I am happy that you have been successful in your career. But in the end, I will always advise students to go to a high-quality, rigorous, reputable program if they have the chance.

^^ This. And there actually are people "out there," even in nursing, who care where you went to school. You never know when having chosen to attend a school with a poor reputation might hurt you.

Dodongo, APRN, NP

Has 7 years experience.

"we don't need references, no CV, only transcripts for your BSN (not the other 5 schools), no essay, no interview, no fees."

I think we all know Walden is a joke and should be avoided, but I honestly had no idea it was this bad.

No references? No admission essay? No CV? How in the world can a student "apply" to this "school" and feel good about that decision?

Like a poster said above, not everyone who wants to be an NP can or should be an NP. It's not a right. You have to deserve it.

I think we all know Walden is a joke and should be avoided, but I honestly had no idea it was this bad.

No references? No admission essay? No CV? How in the world can a student "apply" to this "school" and feel good about that decision?

Y'know all those people who post here to ask, "What's the quickest, easiest NP program I can get into"???? Or, "I have lousy grades but want to become an NP, what are my options"??? Or (in not so many words), I want to become an NP, but I don't want to have to put forth any effort??? Those are the people who apply to the "diploma mill" "schools." Plus some unfortunates who sincerely don't know any better and don't realize what they're getting into. If you've been reading here for any length of time, you know that there are plenty of people posting here who seem unaware, or question whether, there is any significant difference between schools, and plenty of people here who will tell them, that, no, there is no difference among schools, all nursing programs are the same, and it doesn't matter where you go.

The for-profit schools are making a fortune off people who can't get into the legitimate, reputable schools, or can't be bothered to put forth the effort they would have to in a legitimate, reputable program. (Or know so little about higher education in general that they don't know any better.)

These schools are referred to as "diploma mills" for a reason. And I feel it's worth pointing out that the Obama administration was clamping down on them, but the Trump administration is now reversing and undoing those efforts, and turning those schools loose to operate however they like once again. I am deeply, deeply offended that my tax dollars are spent on student loans given to these "schools."

Edited by elkpark

juan de la cruz, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in APRN, Adult Critical Care, General Cardiology. Has 27 years experience.

If you're having issues garnering respect from your peers then it probably has nothing to do, directly, with the school you've obtained your np degree from. Walden NP grad here. I work for one of the most well-regarded research facilities in the country, and no one questions where I received my degree.

I congratulate you for your success in graduating, getting certified, and finding a job. No one is saying that no lawyer, psychologist, businessman, or NP made it after graduating from these programs. But for everyone like you, there are many others who could not find a preceptor, hence, were delayed in starting clinical rotations and had their degree completion pushed back. There were those who signed up for a program only to find out that there isn't much support in ensuring their academic success, took huge school loans and never got the degree they thought they will earn and defaulted on the loan. It's true that schools are part of a commercial enterprise but there should be accountability to deliver a promise of a complete education as a paying consumer which for-profit schools don't offer.

RunnerNurse09, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg/ ER/ homecare.

Wow! That is incredibly sad and disturbing! Why isn't this being stopped?

It truly is sad for those of us attending reputable, highly regarded schools. From what I have read, many employers are catching on to this trend and are not hiring those from these for profit schools.

Dodongo, APRN, NP

Has 7 years experience.

I know this is anecdotal, but when I was looking into schools, I was talking with the physicians from the group I work with, and we were discussing me possibly coming to work with them when I graduate. They said, point blank, that if I didn't go to a reputable program (meaning required time on campus, proctored exams, etc - you know, actual minimum requirements) they would not hire me. It did not matter that we have a great working relationship currently. Their thought was that I would not be an acceptable NP, no matter how much time I personally invested, if my formal education was lacking. They were not willing to pick up the slack if/when I was hired there.

Similarly, I know the medical director for my health system, and her opinion echoes the above. The institution absolutely matters. And I assume that it will only continue to matter more in the coming years.

juan de la cruz, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in APRN, Adult Critical Care, General Cardiology. Has 27 years experience.

Well there are health systems (i.e., Allina Health in Minnesota which ironically is where one of these schools are headquartered), specifically states in their NP job postings that they would not hire new grads of proprietary or for-profit programs:

Working at Allina Health (open the link, search NP positions, and look at the last paragraph under qualifications).