States Track Fallout From Nurse Licensing Scam To More Facilities


By Jessica R. Towhey

Federal and state officials are cracking down on nurses who hold “bogus” licenses, following an investigation into three Florida schools that allegedly sold diplomas to approximately 7,600 people.

The Department of Justice’s Operation Nightingale revealed that diploma recipients paid an average of $15,000 for bogus diplomas, and that approximately 2,400 of them went on to pass various state licensing exams to become registered nurses. Since the scam and related prosecutions were announced in January, officials have been working to track down holders of invalid diplomas.

Court documents indicate some of the individuals with allegedly fake diplomas became employed at a nursing home in Ohio. Students came from Delaware, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Licensing boards and commissions in Washington state, Delaware and Georgia have rescinded or asked for the voluntary surrender of 65 licenses. The Texas Board of Nursing is letting 23 people there continue working as nurses while their disciplinary cases are pending.

Many of those individuals took their licensing exam in New York, where people can sit for the test multiple times.

“Some” of the 903 licensed nurses in New York who graduated from the schools involved in the sting did, in fact, attend required hours and clinicals and are properly licensed” and they can submit verification of their status through a qualified nursing program but have been ordered to surrender their licenses until they prove legitimacy.

Recent New York Department of Education guidance notes that it has no reason to suspect any “impropriety” if a licensed nurse graduated from one of the schools during a different period. The guidance makes clear, though, that anyone registered in New York as a nurse must have completed the required coursework and clinical hours.

“Work experience does not substitute for clinical instruction,” the website states.

The head of one of New York’s largest SNF advocacy groups said just two facilities have been contacted by authorities with questions about employees regarding the scam.

“Nursing homes in New York are highly regulated,” said Stephen B. Hanse, president and CEO of NYSHFA | NYSCAL. “We feel very confident that the hiring policies and procedures that are in place are working,” said Hanse.

Hanse said he did not have details on the two SNFs contacted by authorities other than it did not appear any licenses were fraudulent.

The three schools in Florida caught up in the scam investigation are the Palm Beach School of Nursing; Siena College in Broward County; and the Sacred Heart International Institute, also in Broward.



  • This would be a perfect opportunity to assess how well legal programs rate in instruction vs the others with detailed analysis. Many programs teach outdated information and many of the intructors haven't actively practiced nursing in years. Instead of focusing on the fundementals in theory and skills they require nursing student to buy multiple super thick nursing books and assign reading that no normal human could absorb getting into advanced subjects before a solid foundation is formed. Same with clinicals hours which should be used as an educational experience to learn skills and critical thinking instead of testing out skills they learned in a unrealistic simulation lab. I'm sure this may differ from school to school. How much we don't know but in my BSN program that's the way it was. Poor teaching and presentation of the basics so instructors could appear to be educating at a higher level along with the lastest edition of thick advanced books to place their program on a pedestal instead of making sure these students has a deep understanding of basics and the ability to perform skills. Advanced theories do not mean much when the basics are not learned deeply first. It makes their programs look impressive on paper but robs nursing students of a real education. It is evidenced by having to add additional training to pass the boards and then hospitals to reteach new nurses to the true realities of nursing such as liability and outcomes. Too much fake it until you make it and competitiveness instead of cooperation and team work. Unrealistic care planning methods and more.It's so bad that a Nurse has to unlearn all they were taught and learn the realities of nursing on their own or with a good mentor.

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