Last week, while traveling home from work I received a text message with an attachment from a former student. The text read, “Thought you might be interested in this.” Once I had time to view the attachment, which was a pop up ad from his Facebook page, I was fairly shocked. It was an ad for a biomedical “degree” and I use the word degree here very lightly. A college in a Southern state was advertising a six-month online biomedical education with classes starting every Monday.
Two things immediately crossed my mind. How could they cover all the information in six months to prepare students for entry level employment when I struggle to cover in sufficient detail the necessary information needed in a two-year period? Also, how in the world can they start a new class every Monday? This peaked my interest, so I did a little research.
When I got on the school’s website a few things jumped out at me. First, I could not find a course offering list for the program of study. They did have a link to a YouTube video which was labeled Program Review. I thought this was a good way to present the information becuase video is a good way to hold one’s attention. However, when I clicked on the link this message popped up, “This Video Is Private.” Private? Why would a school not want to share what courses are offered in a program of study? Giving this institution the benefit of doubt I thought it could be a webmaster mistake. I thought I should see who is teaching the class and see if they could send me the class information. Upon further investigation on their website I learned there is no faculty listing for any of the programs they offer – another red flag. Further investigation unveiled that office hours (for the entire school) are by appointment only. You might say this information set off another red flag.
The website provided some information including that the certificate program provides a realistic and up-to-date overview of a career in HTM. The website states the program utilizes “Electronics/Electrical, Digital, Mechanical, Computer and Internet Sciences, and learning is achieved by using a broad ranged approach, focusing on not just technical skills, but on management, organizational, logistics, compliance, research and other related topics.” At this point I’m thinking they have the best instructors in the world along with students who must have scored a perfect 2400 on the SAT. With only 494 students achieving a score of 2400 out of 1.66 million test takers, I’m thinking that is not the case.
I noticed a few more red flags, including a $50 nonrefundable application fee to the school. The biomed program has an “optional” hands-on training component, the career placement help seems to be links to job boards and the school website states it is “Approved & Registered” by what seems to be some state agencies. It does not appear to be accredited by a recognized organization such as Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Last, but not least, the website makes it very difficult to find specific information about the course of study, but there are many links to send application fees along with the $6,995 program fee. There is no mention of whether this fee covers books or anything other than tuition. However they do have payment plans starting at just $395. Also, a little further investigation revealed this was not the only HTM educational outlet that seemed to be a little questionable.
So why do I bring you this information? Over the many years I have been teaching I get a majority of my students by word of mouth. Many of my new students know someone in the field. Whether it be a cousin, uncle, aunt, neighbor or someone from church or another social outlet. People find out about this career field by someone telling them about it. So, if someone you know is interested in this career field, please let them know about some of the potential pitfalls in deciding which school to attend for their training. This will not only help the potential student, but it will also help ensure the new wave of HTM professionals will be properly trained and ready to contribute in today’s health care environment.
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