Arizona nursing school by Brown Mackie College rebuked by State authorities

Are you a victim of potential consumer fraud by Brown Mackie College or  another educational institution?  Educational misrepresentation by colleges or other types of schools can constitute consumer fraud, depending on the facts involved.  Such misrepresentations can cause long lasting financial injury and career injury for students.  Potential problems can occur in a wide variety of educational programs.

If you feel that you are a victim of consumer fraud and educational misrepresentation, please contact Vince Rabago Law Office at (520) 955-9038 or info@vincerabagolaw.com right away to arrange for a consultation to see if your rights have been violated and to determine whether you have a case to seek compensation for injury.

Brown Mackie College in Tucson, Arizona was recently rebuked by the Arizona nursing board after a state investigation of the school’s nursing program.  The school agreed to a Consent Order which made findings of numerous deficiencies and legal violations in the schools’ nursing program.  Among other things, the state nursing board found that the college misrepresented educational opportunities for students, which resulted in students failing to receive the variety and number of clinical learning opportunities necessary for students to achieve program outcomes or even minimal competence.

 

According to an investigative news article by Tucson reporter Carol Ann Alaimo, published by the Arizona Daily Star on August 1, 2015, titled “Tucson’s Brown Mackie College must test, retrain nursing students,” the local for-profit college “used veterinary supplies to teach its nursing students and sent them to train at a Tucson hospice without faculty supervision, a state nursing board investigation has found.

“The quality of practical nursing education at Brown Mackie College in Tucson was so poor that some students told investigators they worried about what might happen once they entered the workforce, board records show.

As a result of the findings, the nursing board has ordered independent competency testing for the 40 or so Tucson nursing students enrolled at Brown Mackie as of late May, when the board took the action.

Those deemed deficient must be retrained at Brown Mackie’s expense, under the nursing board’s supervision, before they can take the licensing test to become practical nurses.

The retraining requirement is a first for a nursing program in Arizona ….”

In addition, Brown Mackie “also has agreed to stop enrolling nursing students for two years at its Tucson campus, 4585 E. Speedway.

The college’s corporate parent, Education Management Corp. of Pittsburgh, did not comment on the nursing board’s specific findings, but said the firm aims to do right by the nursing students still enrolled. The company’s two-paragraph statement, attributed to Chris Hardman, vice president of communications, said:

“Brown Mackie College Tucson reached an agreement with the Arizona State Board of Nursing regarding its practical nursing diploma program. As part of the agreement, the school has ceased enrolling new students into the program.

“We are committed to ensuring that currently enrolled students in the program receive a quality education that will equip them with the skills and expertise they need to earn a meaningful return on their educational investment.”

Educational investments tend to be larger for students at for-profit career colleges, which offer flexible hours but typically charge higher tuition than public schools.

Brown Mackie’s website lists the estimated cost of attendance at more than $27,000 for its practical nursing program. By comparison, Pima Community College offers the program for around $12,000.

MORE SCRUTINY AHEAD

While the nursing board only accredits nursing programs, Brown Mackie’s other programs also will be coming under added scrutiny.

In light of the nursing board’s findings, Brown Mackie’s primary accreditor, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools based in Washington, D.C., plans to review the rest of the school’s operations to see if there are other problems.

“Further investigation will be required to determine whether or not Brown Mackie Tucson is deficient in its compliance with (accreditation) standards,” Anthony Bieda, the council’s vice president for external affairs, said in an email.

Bieda said Brown Mackie Tucson didn’t notify the accreditation council, as required, that it was in trouble with the state nursing board. The board issued its findings in April and May, but Bieda said he only learned of the situation when contacted Friday by the Arizona Daily Star.

VIOLATIONS

Brown Mackie Tucson violated numerous provisions of Arizona’s Nurse Practice Act, the state law that governs nursing education, the nursing board determined.

  • The school lacked proper books, supplies and other tools of the nursing education trade. Student nurses were trained “using veterinary technician supplies because the (college) did not have enough appropriate supplies,” the board found.
  • The nursing board interviewed two unnamed student nurses who felt their education was inadequate. One said “she felt unprepared.” The other told board investigators “she felt unsafe to care for patients.”
  • Brown Mackie
  • Tucson
  • often canceled clinical training sessions at local health-care facilities, sessions required to give students practical experience. The cancellations, with no makeup sessions arranged, “constituted a misrepresentation” to students about the level of education they would receive, the board said.
  • In January, student nurses were sent to the Agape Hospice in Tucson without a faculty member present to supervise them, as required by law.

Bill Holmes, Agape’s CEO, said his patients were not endangered because members of the hospice’s staff were always present during the short-lived arrangement. He said Agape canceled the sessions soon after they began because dealing with Brown Mackie proved difficult.

“Students did not show up when scheduled, or showed up late. There was no communication between the college and Agape staff,” Holmes said. “Agape notified the instructor, in writing, of these concerns, and immediately canceled any future participation in the program.”

  • Nearly half of the Brown Mackie nursing students who took licensing exams failed them during the first quarter of this year. The 55 percent pass rate is far below the 80 percent minimum pass rate the nursing board expects from nursing school programs. The high failure rate supports student claims that their education was inadequate, the board said.

Taken together, Brown Mackie’s violations constituted “unprofessional conduct,” the nursing board found.

PHOENIX PROBLEMS

Of added concern to Brown Mackie’s primary accreditor, the chain’s Phoenix location has been cited twice since November for deficiencies in its registered nurse program. The Phoenix and Tucson locations are branch campuses of the larger Brown Mackie chain, said Bieda, the accrediting council executive.

The Phoenix nursing program was cited for violations including grade tampering, enrolling a student who didn’t qualify for admission and failing to provide students with materials they needed to learn how to care for patients with mental health needs.

Two Phoenix Brown Mackie students who were given passing grades on a nursing assignment they failed “posed a risk to the safety and well-being of potential patients,” the nursing board ruled.

One of the Phoenix students graduated from the program “deficient in essential medication administration skills needed to perform safely,” the nursing board said.

Bieda, vice president of the accrediting council, said routine reaccreditation visits were scheduled for this fall at Brown Mackie’s Phoenix and Tucson locations. But the visit dates may be moved up in light of the problems at both nursing programs.

Taken together, the circumstances demand that the accreditor “apply additional scrutiny to these campuses,” he said.

The Education Management Corp. website said the firm “is among the largest providers of private post-secondary education in North America.”

In addition to Brown Mackie, the company also operates South University, Argosy University and The Art Institutes chain, which includes the Art Institute of Tucson.”

Source:  Arizona Daily Star:  Link to the article “Tucson’s Brown Mackie College must test, retrain nursing students here.

Here is a copy of the Consent Order for Brown Mackie College.

Vince Rabago of Vince Rabago Law office has experience investigating and pursuing educational misrepresentation and consumer fraud claims, and representing the interests of students.  As an Assistant Arizona Attorney General, Vince Rabago successfully investigated and pursued Tucson College for alleged consumer fraud in its criminal justice program, which resulted in a lawsuit and a consent judgement that reversed nearly a half million dollars in student loans for the students enrolled in the allegedly deceptive criminal justice program. See the Tucson College Settlement Press Release here.  Vince Rabago was also part of the statewide legal team which conducted a Statewide investigation of all colleges and universities in the State of Arizona regarding potential injury from lending practices that including claims of “preferred lenders;”  the investigation led to most colleges and universities in Arizona adopting a Student Lending Code of Conduct, designed to insure transparency and protect student borrowers.  Click here for information and the Press Release on the Arizona Student Loan Code of Conduct.

If you feel that you are a victim of educational misrepresentation, please contact Vince Rabago Law Office at (520) 955-9038 or info@vincerabagolaw.com right away to arrange for a consultation to see if your rights have been violated and to determine whether you have a case to seek compensation for injury.

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