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Illegal Activity by a Nursing School?

Posted

I apologize if this is not in the right forum, I sincerely could not figure out where this should go. Feel free to move it!

So a friend of mine attends a nursing school that I was interested in applying to. I always regarded this school as fishy, but my friend seemed to be learning so much and enjoying her clinicals.

My friend recently asked if I wanted to help her reform her school policies (which interested me because I had previously attended the university and transferred because of how poorly it was run) and emailed me messages that were sent out earlier this year. This was written by an attorney at law/nurse/former instructor at the school who was going to retire, so he figured he would mass send an email outlining things that he considered huge issues in the program. Apparently, he was fired for it shortly after and there doesn't seem to be an investigation going on, even though a lot of organizations appeared to be contacted. Students have also reported things to no avail, it appears.

Some of the things mentioned in this email were (and I may be a bit fuzzy on the specifics, since the email is quite lengthy):

-Instructors saw students who were trying in their class but failing, so they gave them extra points so that they could pass. The dean (or someone with authority in the school, but I'll keep referring to her as the dean since the email seemed to call her that), after receiving complaints from students about their grades, manually changed all of the grades without telling the professors of those classes and without really outlining how she did it. This is alarming because...

-The dean has shown favoritism to Jewish students, going as far as to ask professors to pass failing Jewish students and disregard other failing students.

-She tried to tell Registar that when a student fails out of the nursing school, they shouldn't put that on their transcript. Once Registar refused, she began telling students to change their majors before they were formally kicked out so that it didn't go on their transcript.

-After the number of failing students went from 9 to 30, professors approached the dean. She apparently told the professors to tell the inquiring students that the grade change was due to a calculation error.

- Beforehand, people were allowed to retake classes over and over. An example was of a student who failed a class two times, got a B- the third time, and was allowed to continue even though retake protocol requires a B on a retake. She was retaking a class on Medication Administration, which is scary because imagine all of those med errors that would have occurred (apparently she failed out the following year).

There were other issues, such as using outdated equipment and having graduate classes taught by people who don't have doctorates, but the bullet points concerned me the most. My friend is extremely worried about it, but she doesn't want them to lose accreditation because she's currently in the school. She also does not want to get kicked out for saying something. But since I don't go to that school and all of the information I have is based on what someone supposedly firsthand witnessed, I don't have as much to lose. So my concern in this is mostly as an outside person thinking, "Oh my God, this school is going to kill patients!"

So, what should be done? If it's true, how should more attention to be brought to it? My friend wants to make it a media thing that will embarrass the school into changing their policies, but I doubt that would be beneficial. If it's not true, how can these accusations be investigated?

Thank you very much and I apologize if this question is silly. I know little about how nursing schools operate, but it all seems...wrong.

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN, CNS

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 27 years experience.

Hmmm. Not we ar hearing the whole story. Since your friend goes there and seemingly wants to continue a media blitz is both unprofessional as well as counterproductive. I would follow the chain of command and detail only those items that I have personal knowledge of. Otherwise I would mind my own business. Sounds like a lot of gossip to me.

Double-Helix, BSN, RN

Specializes in PICU, Sedation/Radiology, PACU. Has 10 years experience.

We can't give legal advice here, and I'm not sure what is considered illegal for a school to do and what is under their discretion. Certainly "unethical" and "unfair" do not equal illegal.

If your friend doesn't want her school to lose it's accreditation, then she should keep quiet and not bring this up again. If she really wants to make a change then she should notify the school administrators as well as the agency that accredits the school and contact a lawyer.

Likewise, you should definitely not get involved. It's not your school, so it's not your battle. I would certainly not apply to this school if you decide to pursue nursing.

It sounds like a lot of vague information and accusations, that may or may not have some basis in reality, sent out by a disgruntled employee. I don't know why he would send out a mass email like that, but it's not very professional, and so it may not have been very accurate.

Sounds like a lot of politics and you and your friend will encounter plenty of that in nursing. Best to pick your battles wisely, and if you think the top is going to blow, make plans for a safe exit.

Also, as a Jewish person, I'm kind of curious to know just how many Jewish students were in that program and why so many of them were failing.

OCNRN63, RN

Specializes in Oncology; medical specialty website.

That is one hot mess.

Thank you so much for the replies. I will admit, translating almost thirty pages in a few paragraphs is not helpful or accurate, but I figured summarizing was better than anything else. I'm aware of the fact that it seems so...gossipy? That's why I figured I should ask people with more experience, in nursing and life, before doing anything.

I will definitely share your advice with my friend, Ashley, PICU RN. And mazy, based on my firsthand experience as a former student, it seems like too many students are accepted into the program, so many of them fail because they should have been weeded out from the beginning. Because Jewish students make up a considerable amount of the school population, some of them probably fall into the struggling category but, according to the email, are given extra help that struggling non-Jewish students are not offered. Also, thank you for brief insight into future nursing politics; I'll definitely keep that in mind for the future. I'm open to more replies, but I think I know what I will do.

At this point, I'm not very involved in this situation, just someone who was sent the email, is confided in, and made a thread out of concern. I guess I initially wanted to get involved because I could only think of how dangerous some of what is allegedly going on is. After reading some of the replies, I don't think I will do as much as I originally offered (then again, I was never keen on the "alert the media" idea).

I guess what bothers me too was that I attended the university for quite a while, so the claims aren't exactly outlandish to me. I remember when I knew I had to transfer: a class I took seemed to award grades based on what the professor felt like, not based on our work or understanding of the material (it was math!), and the few times I complained to any kind of authority in the school, I was talked down to with faulty logic (I know that when we're required to do a lab in biology, all of the machines for our experiment shouldn't be broken and we shouldn't have to pretend or make up readings...instead of building a second gym, perhaps invest in one working machine for lab demonstrations or just don't make it a required experiment).

I'm rambling, but I hope you see my general reasoning. Not good reasoning, but at least you can sort of see why I find a few of these claims a little believable.

I don't see why I wanted to reapply to this school, now that I think about all of the issues I had with it. Then again many things seem so painless in retrospect...

nursel56

Specializes in Peds/outpatient FP,derm,allergy/private duty. Has 45 years experience.

It seems odd that they could fire a professor for sending out a mass email when he/she was set to retire anyway. But if that is the case then I suppose that would be the logical person to coordinate such an effort. The list is difficult to decipher, but most of of it sounds like a huge collection of the typical issues someone complains about almost every day. Favoritism, and stuff like this:

- Beforehand, people were allowed to retake classes over and over. An example was of a student who failed a class two times, got a B- the third time, and was allowed to continue even though retake protocol requires a B on a retake.

If it's so awful, why does your friend not want them to lose their accreditation? If she wants to go to the media and claim that non-Jewish students are (in effect) discriminated against what does she expect to happen as a result of that? I guess the whole thing seems not very well thought out. But it's nice of you to donate your time to the issue because she's your friend.