In March 2023, Loquitur (Cabrini University Student Media) reported on fake nursing training courses. On January 25th, 2023, the United States Department of Justice revealed a fraudulent nursing diploma scheme that provided illegal licenses. As a result, aspiring nurses sought an employment shortcut.
The investigation, named 'Operation Nightingale,' resulted in search warrants being executed in Delaware, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, and New York. More than 7,600 counterfeit nursing transcripts and diplomas were issued under the scheme.
The alleged schools were Sacred Heart International Institute, the Palm Beach School of Nursing, and Siena College. These institutions profited $114 each by selling false transcripts and diplomas.
A federal grand jury in South Florida discovered that certain individuals were involved in this scheme. They sold fake nursing diplomas to individuals aspiring to become vocational/licensed practical nurses (VN/LPNs) and registered nurses (RNs). If convicted, they could face a sentence of 20 years. The schools involved charged $17,000 for RN programs and $10,000 for LPN programs.
After the disclosure of the fake nursing diploma courses by the Department of Justice in South Florida, several nursing schools across the United States have closed down.
Nurses are widely respected for their integrity as they devote their lives to caring for patients. They help patients to recover from serious medical conditions and physical injuries.
However, when individuals with counterfeit degrees are appointed to work in healthcare facilities and hospitals, the quality of care gets compromised. This can hinder the recovery process and reduce a patient’s trust in nurses. Therefore, it is crucial to implement a rigorous scrutiny process to identify nurses with fraudulent credentials and take appropriate action.
In February 2023, Ars Technica reported that the Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission in Washington had uncovered 150 nurses with credentials acquired through the aforementioned scheme.
KING 5 News in Seattle stated that among these 150 individuals, 62 are currently facing legal complications, licenses have been revoked from 7 nurses, 4 applicants were denied licenses, and the remaining 77 cases are under investigation.
Aspiring nurses should exercise caution when selecting a reputable BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) program or an online DNP-AGPCNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice/Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner) program to enhance their knowledge and skills.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), authentic and high-quality nursing education is associated with numerous benefits, including reduced mortality rates, improved patient outcomes, shorter hospital stays, and lower readmission rates.
In addition to completing comprehensive nursing coursework, BSN-DNP-AGPCNP educated nurses also participate in classes that cover mental health issues, health literacy, humanities, healthcare ethics, and social sciences. This diverse curriculum provides them with a broader understanding of the economic, sociological, and cultural factors that can impact patients and the situations they encounter in their practice.
The University of Indianapolis affirms that a reputable online nursing degree equips nurses with the necessary qualifications to provide complex care for adults across various age groups and life stages. These nurses can utilize their translational research skills and health system leadership abilities to enhance patient outcomes. There are part-time courses to accommodate nurses who are currently employed in hospitals, clinics, or other healthcare facilities.
Commenting on the fake nursing diploma scheme, Charge Chad Yarbrough, Special Agent of FBI Miami, said healthcare frauds are common in South Florida. Scammers have been able to earn illegal and easy money through such schemes. The alarming fact is that individuals with fake nursing credentials are still providing healthcare to patients.
Not everyone is capable of identifying fake nursing degrees, as scammers have become increasingly sophisticated in their deceptive tactics while targeting aspiring nurses and candidates.
Here are three definitive signs to help identify fraudulent nursing credentials:
Each person follows a specific educational sequence, starting with a General Equivalency Diploma (GED) or high school diploma, followed by a Bachelor's or Associate's degree, and then a doctoral or graduate degree. If a candidate possesses degrees or diplomas outside of this established pattern, it should raise a red flag.
Several diploma providers falsely claim accreditation from agencies that are not recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). It is essential to consult the CHEA's list of recognized national and regional accrediting agencies. You can also refer to the U.S. Department of Education's list of accredited universities and colleges.
A clear indication of a fake nursing degree is when a candidate claims to have earned it within an unusually short period. Usually, associate degrees take two years to complete, a Bachelor's degree takes two to four years, a Master's degree takes one to two years, and a doctoral degree takes four or more years. If an applicant asserts they obtained a degree within a few months, it is likely fake.
Keeping in mind the fraudulent nursing degree schemes, Jennifer Mensik Kennedy, the President of the American Nurses Association, expressed her deep concern. She referred to those involved in the scheme as deplorable.
Therefore, nurses and aspiring candidates should strive to enhance their education and expertise while exercising caution. There is no value or benefit inobtaining a fake degree. It is crucial to find a reputable institution, enroll in a legitimate program, and dedicate the necessary time to complete it.