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For-Profit Colleges Growing In Florida

Miami Herald

This story is adapted from a Miami Herald investigation about for-profit colleges.

Credit Miami Herald
Miami Herald

  While working as the assistant director of education at ATI Career Training Center’s Fort Lauderdale campus, Dulce Ramirez-Damon said she witnessed medical assistant classes taught by instructors who lacked a bachelor’s degree, and students who didn’t understand “where the vein was, or how to grab it.”

So Ramirez-Damon delivered this message to her family: If you’re ever at the hospital, make sure to ask where the person taking care of you went to school.

“If it’s anybody from ATI, you request someone else,” Ramirez-Damon said she told them. “I told my sister, I told my brother, and I had them tell their friends as well.”

ATI is now closed. It filed for bankruptcy last year after Ramirez-Damon and six other employees filed whistle-blower lawsuits that alleged massive taxpayer fraud. But the school lives on through ATI grads, working in the field.

Just because a school is accused of wrongdoing doesn’t mean its graduates aren’t qualified. There are dedicated students, and instructors, at even the most troubled schools.

But both students and instructors at for-profits have raised concerns about the screening of enrollees and the quality of the instruction.

Florida’s “career colleges,” which are mostly for-profit, now account for about 60 percent of Florida’s health care graduates in fields such as nursing, ultrasound technology and medical assistance, according to the industry’s trade association. And while statistics show many who graduate don’t pass the professional exams required to enter the workplace, many do.

These were findings of a Miami Herald investigation called Higher Ed HustleRead the rest of this story at MiamiHerald.com, and hear an audio story from the investigation below, by visual journalist Emily Michot.

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Emily Michot & Michael Vasquez | Miami Herald