Today on Facebook I saw an ad for a company claiming to provide NCLEX® prep for nursing students . . . I thought, “Awesome, someone we can reach out to.”
I go to the site and something quickly seems off to me . . . as an educator and blogger I probably look at things a bit closer than most . . . the courses seemed pretty empty. Mostly text, generic, and more importantly there was . . . no instructor listed.
I thought hmmm . . . I don’t want to take a course if I don’t know the instructors credentials. The only preview available was a short powerpoint video with no talking . . . hmmm. So I go to the companies website.
On their site they claim they are the #1 NCLEX program . . . hmmm. I look all over the site and can’t find a place to contact the company.
Finally, I find an “about us” page. They list several RNs as course creators, many with advanced degrees (MSN, PHd). At this point I’ve had so many red flags pop up that I just HAVE to investigate more closely. I copy the names of the “educators” and paste them in Google . . . no results for these people. Okay, so I try doing the same thing in Twitter . . . nothing. Strange, all the companies and NCLEX® educators I know have a presence on social media or published work SOMEWHERE!
Okay, now I am really curious. I do a reverse Google Image search on the instructors to see if I can find anything on these people or their credentials . . . . BOOM!! Here are a couple places the images on their about page came from:
- Getty Images (just a stock model photo)
- A Miss America photo from years ago (it wasn’t who they said it was on their site and not a nurse)
- Some strange Russian website (again NOT who they said it was, again NOT a nurse)
- Flickr (a picture of someone’s cousin . . . and . . . again NOT a nurse or who they said it was)
Why Are They Doing This?
This is SO offensive to me for several reasons.
- Where does this leave you, the nursing student, when you can’t trust what you find online.
- What are they trying to hide?
- I put well over 40 hours a week into NURSING.com to create GOOD content.
I want you guys to be successful . . . .there are so many amazing nurses out there providing killer content to help you on your journey . . . it just really ticks me off that internet marketers are copying nursing text books and slapping the content in courses and then charging you an arm and a leg for it . . .
My Goal at NURSING.com
I got into online nursing education for one reason . . . my journey through nursing school (honestly) sucked and I wanted to share tips for surviving. That message resonated with many nursing students all around the country, so I started sharing some of my study tips and joining forces with world-class nurse educators to bring you clear, concise, and visual nursing courses.Learn More About NURSING.com
That’s how this all began . . . and my goal is that you succeed in your nursing journey.
A Few Tips to Spot Shady Practices
Follow these steps when you encounter a new website providing educational materials for nurses.
- Do they use RN credentials after their name?
- What happens when you look up their name with the Board of Nursing for their state?
- If you ask them straight up if they are a nurse or can provide references, what do they say?
- Can they answer straight questions about nursing?
- Are the images on their site/etc stock images?
- Lastly, ask for an RN license # . . . can they provide you with one? . . . if not RUN!
- Yes . . . I’m a Nurse Lic #: 844860 . . . check it out . . . Jon Haws RN!
- BONUS TIP: if they say they aren’t interested in answering those questions, don’t provide contact information, or ignore the questions . . RUN!
Some Examples of Shady “Nursing Education” Websites
Fake User Reviews
On one “nursing education” website our team was able to do a reverse image search on the “nursing students” providing “reviews. We found that each of the below “students” was in fact just a stock photo model.
Fake Trustpilot Reviews
Some companies will share that they have “thousands of positive reviews on Trustpilot”. We did some simple digging into this nursing company and within about 30 seconds found sites that will write fake Trustpilot reviews for just a couple dollars. While Trustpilot CAN be a place for honest reviews – it is easy to purchase these fake reviews and you should avoid purchasing based ONLY on Trustpilot reviews.
My suggestion here would be to simply ask your classmates. What are actual students YOU KNOW saying about how they study?
Insecure and Bogus Websites
Our team evaluated a few websites who run persistent (annoying) ads targeted at nursing students on YouTube and Google. In that analysis they reviewed several websites that had insecure domains. Finding this is very easy. Just look up in the browser bar, Chrome will tell you if the domain is not secure (as shown below). Insecure domains are more open to hacking and leaking of personal data (email, payment information, addresses, etc).
Pretending to Have NCSBN Content
This one is VERY frustrating. One website we reviewed stated that they have “leaked NCLEX questions from the Board of Nursing”. Eluding to the idea that they have access to leaked NCSBN NCLEX questions. Not only is this HIGHLY suspect, it is also illegal, and hurts the nursing student. Honestly, this is no doubt a scam and is being used to trick vulnerable nursing students into signing up for the expensive product. This is just complete madness.
Fake Business Names
We even found one website owner who was stating they were running a business that did not even exist. Really their site and published business name was just a front to get nursing students to sign up for their expensive product. Finding this information is simple. Any website (if they are reputable) will list their business name and state of business.
You can do a simple google search of the name and state or go to the states Secretary of State site and search for their businesses.
Fake Nurses as Teachers
A quick review of some of the scammy sites go as far as to use fake images and possibly fake names for their nursing professors . . . this is WAY TOO FAR . . . this is borderline unethical.
One site claims to have a nurse on staff named Sally Bruce RN, BSN, MSN. A quick google search does not return a single result for this nurse outside of the site where she is listed.
The image associated with this name is a stock photo taken from Unspalsh and used all over the internet including on a hairstyle website.
The site seems to do this with all of it’s “instructors” . . . here is another stock image being used for one of their instructors which appears on a senior citizen health site.
It appears that not a single instructor on the site is a real person. If I am wrong – I hope this site will reach out to me – but it looks like this site isn’t even using real nurses or using stock photos to appear as real nurses.
I really worry that this site is able to scam future nurses into believing they are providing true instruction with real nurses – this is disappointing and against everything the profession of nursing is about.
Where Can You Find Honest Nurses?
Look, I hope some of these tips to spot shady companies helps. If you run across an ad, a website, an NCLEX webinar, questions or that seems shady or you’ve never heard of before, try to use some of the tips and strategies listed above.
In the end, the best advice I can give you is to ASK.
- Ask you friends what they use
- Ask your professors what they recommend
- Ask the company if they can provide proof
My goal is to give my all to you guys so that we can create a strong future for nursing. When I talk with other nurses out there . . . I put them through a serious vetting process in my mind . . . if they aren’t on the same page as me . . . I’m not going to recommend them to you. If they don’t fire me up and get me excited to be a nurse . . . BYE FELICIA.
The NURSING.com Team
We’ve formed a team of the world’s best nurse educators at NURSING.com. Not only are they incredibly brilliant nurses, they are working professionals with advanced certifications . . . and even more importantly, they embrace our unique method for teaching nursing students. We call our teaching method the Core Content Mastery Method which embraces a learner focused approach to teaching with you at the center.
Our educators are practicing nurses most with MSN or higher degrees. They have been in your shoes and have a passion for nursing. They are ALL specialists in their field (not one person trying to teach every subject – you already get that in nursing school).
Here are some of our instructors. You can learn more about them here.
We are all in this together . . . and my goal is your success!
p.s. you can contact me any time . . . also just google search “Jon Haws” or NURSING.com and you will know EXACTLY who I am . . .