More details have emerged regarding the nursing degree scandal, known as “Operation Nightingale,” which involved the selling of 7,600 fake nurse diplomas and transcripts through three accredited Florida-based nursing schools. These fake diplomas and transcripts allowed aspiring nurses to qualify to take the national nursing board exam, become licensed nurses, and get jobs in health care. Only 2,400 of the 7,600 eventually passed the nurses licensing exam. But with these fake diplomas, some nurses have been working across the nation, for years.
Those charged so far include the administrators of the nursing schools involved, and several test preparation academies that recruited people to purchase the fake diplomas. The defendants face up to 20 years in prison. But now, prosecutors are going after the nurses themselves. As of February 22, 2023, the Texas Nursing Board has filed charges and released the names of 23 nurses, and 10 nursing schools have been closed. In the state of Delaware, the Board of Nursing annulled the licenses of 26 people working as nurses after obtaining allegedly fake degrees. Several more states are investigating the nursing licenses of seasoned practitioners and seeking prosecution for those whose degrees are in question. Some nurses identified with fraudulent degrees and transcripts claim that they did not know. Nurses are being encouraged to check their own credentials on the online site, Nursys.
In a time where hospitals globally are suffering from healthcare burnout, mismanagement and short staffing, this kind of scandal should bring up a lot of questions. Why is there such gate-keeping around the profession of nursing? Why are there so many barriers to get a nursing degree, and passing the licensing exam to become a nurse? Why are so many young professionals starting their careers in massive debt? How can we change our society to equip workers to enter the field of healthcare, support them to stay and thrive? These are the real reasons that such a scandal can take place.