Students Say Nursing College Was a Snow Job

     TUCSON (CN) — Eleven students sued Brown Mackie College-Tucson and Education Management Corp., claiming they paid $30,000 apiece for a nursing program so fraudulent it assigned an instructor of paralegals to teach them anatomy and physiology.
     Jennifer Baxley et al. sued the profit-seeking college, its corporate parent Education Management dba Phoenix Art Institute, and four staff members on May 19 in Pima County Court 19.
     An investigation by the Arizona Board of Nursing found that the program made students use veterinarian supplies because it lacked appropriate ones, and the students say that when they realized just how bad it was, Pima Community College referred some of them to a suicide hotline.
     The students say the staffing was so weak that an attorney in the school’s paralegal program was assigned to teach their introductory course in anatomy and physiology.
     “The lawyer had no knowledge of the subject matter,” the lawsuit states. “Although students complained, he was not replaced until the course was nearly over. As a result, the students spent nearly the entire course watching YouTube videos and being told lawyer jokes and what to do if the police stopped them or came to their home.”
     The Arizona Board of Nursing placed Brown Mackie College Tucson’s practical nursing program on probation in May 2015, barring the school from enrolling new students for two years. The program had received provisional approval from the board in 2010.
     Arizona Board of Nursing Executive Director Joey Ridenour said Monday that the program “has completed the terms of the probation and no students remain in the program.”
     The program has “voluntarily surrendered” its board approval for a minimum of two years, Ridenour said in an email. Brown Mackie-Tucson can reapply after that time and enroll students again by showing that the “basis of board of action has been rectified.”
     The Board of Nursing investigation found that the school failed to provide proper books, faculty and clinical placements to students enrolled for the 2014-2015 academic year.
     Among many problems, the board found that students were “using veterinarian technician supplies because BMC did not have enough appropriate supplies,” according to the consent agreement and order.
     Though the defendants told the plaintiffs the program would prepare them for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for practical nurses, none were allowed to take the test, even if they graduated either cum laude or magna cum laude, according to the complaint.
     Education Management Corp. said it does not comment on pending litigation.
     The students say the school’s clinical education was also insufficient, consisting primarily of unsupervised visits with hospice nurses.
     “Brown Mackie was required by Arizona Board of Nursing regulations and its own course requirements to provide supervised clinical training at health care facilities working with actual patients as part of its program,” the complaint states. “Brown Mackie scheduled a series of clinical sessions with hospice nurses where the students were not supervised and not permitted to provide any services to the patients.”
     After the Board of Nursing placed the school on probation, it ordered Brown Mackie to obtain an independent third-party assessment of the students and to provide more education where needed. But after contracting with Pima Community College in Tucson to assess the students’ skills, Brown Mackie did little to prepare them for Pima College’s test, the students say.
     “The result was entirely predictable,” according to the complaint. “The students were blindsided and, faced with the obvious ruin of more than a year of efforts, were completely devastated. Many of the students were so distraught that Pima College contacted counselors and referred them to a suicide hotline.”
     After completing a remediation program, the plaintiffs took a second assessment at Pima College. Brown Mackie-Tucson told them all that they had passed the second test and would be recommended to the Arizona Board of Nursing, according to the complaint.
     “In fact, none of the plaintiffs were recommended to the nursing board,” the students say, so they were left with nothing in return for their $30,000 tuition.
     “At the end, despite having suffered through the deficiencies of Brown Mackie, the inadequate and unqualified staff, facilities, equipment and supplies, the lack of any real effort on behalf of Brown Mackie to meet its commitments to students, the lip service that Brown Mackie gave to orders of the nursing board, and Brown Mackie’s incompetence, misrepresentations and lies, the students have nothing at all to show for nearly two years of effort and sacrifice, and must start all over again or abandon their hopes of becoming nurses,” the lawsuit states.
     They want their tuition back and damages for consumer fraud, negligence, breach of faith, a pattern of unlawful activity, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
     They are represented by Lindsay Brew and Peter Limperis with Miller, Pitt & Feldman. Limperis declined to comment on Monday.

%d bloggers like this: