College's Nursing Program Rebuked ; State: Tucson's Brown Mackie Must Test, Retrain Students

By Alaimo, Carol Ann | AZ Daily Star, August 2, 2015 | Go to article overview

College's Nursing Program Rebuked ; State: Tucson's Brown Mackie Must Test, Retrain Students


Alaimo, Carol Ann, AZ Daily Star


A 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, said Joey Ridenour, executive director of the Arizona State Board of Nursing. The board "has not required this type of remediation with other programs," she said.

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. …

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