Misleading Advertisements

During the last three months several members have informed me of misleading advertising fliers from “St. Augustine School of Medical Assistants.” Some of these fliers include the following language:

Medical Assistant Program Online. Medical Assistant Home Study Program. Nationally Accredited and Certified Program. 24/7 Convenient Online Classes. St. Augustine School of Medical Assistants now offers a Nationally Accredited and Certified Medical Assistant Program completely online. Yes, Complete This Program in as little as 6-8 weeks! Register by ______ and the program cost is only $465. However, if you enroll 2 or more students together the fee is just $485 per student! Regular cost is $1215.

This “program” is not accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Therefore, those who complete this program are not eligible for the CMA (AAMA) Certification Examination. Furthermore, this “school” has been listed on some state and federal websites as being a “diploma mill.” According to Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, a diploma mill is defined as:

An institution of higher education operating without supervision of a state or professional agency and granting diplomas which are either fraudulent or because of the lack of proper standards worthless.

Approximately three years ago the AAMA reported St. Augustine School of Medical Assistants to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The AAMA will continue to report medical assisting diploma mills to the appropriate governmental authorities. You can also report diploma mills to the FTC by going to www.ftc.gov or calling 877/382-4357.

About Donald A. Balasa

Donald A. Balasa, JD, MBA, executive director and legal counsel for the American Association of Medical Assistants, keeps his eye on what is happening in the profession.
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14 Responses to Misleading Advertisements

  1. Luann Spencer says:

    I was told by Kaplan Universit,y here in Council Bluffs Iowa, that this was a profession that age didn’t matter. I am “older” and when I changed my mind about attending school, that was what I was told and that I should go ahead and take the classes. I really wish that I had listened to my little voice and not gone $30,000 in debt for a worthless degree. I truly believe that they mislead me into thinking that even though I am in my 50′s I could compete for jobs with a 20 or 30 year old. I enjoyed my classes, but not the debt and the hundreds of job turn downs that I believe that when a potential employer sees Kaplan or if I do manage to get an interview, the grey hair it is a turn off to them. It doesn’t matter that I graduated Magna Cum Laude or that I never missed a class. Employers in this area don’t seem to like the MA’s that come out of Kaplan. I took and passed the certification exam on the first try, but still no job since I graduated in December 2010. It is frustrating and very depressing.
    Thanks for listening.

    Luann Spencer, CMA (AAMA)

  2. Eileen Kuntz says:

    You are not the only one Miss Spencer. The jobs are not there the ones that are want 1-2 years experience to be hired, or spanish speaking. I have applied for over three dozen jobs in two months and had only one interview. My age seems to be an issue as well. Is 41 too old? I have not taken the RMA yet because I do not have the cash to pay the registration and test fee. I feel like I should have never gone to college. I wasted two years and I won’t tell you haow much $.

    Eileen K

    • Luann Spencer says:

      I am 59 so 41 is not too old. I know how you feel about the money. I plan to file complaints with the accredition board and the AAMA about my school. Not sure if it will do any good, but I think I need to try something. Good luck to you.

      • Jackie P says:

        Wow. This blog is making me take a second look. My certification is through the NHA. Has anyone ever heard of the NHA? My certification was up in 2009. I have many years of experience and in a diverse background of endocrinology, internal medicine and even homeopathy. I have been trying to recertify but I can not find one employer who recognizes this agency. Also, I am 51 and due to a divorce literally starting over. Last I worked was one year ago. Am I wrong to try and recertify? McDonalds has turned me down because I’m over qualified to work there!

      • I am sorry to hear about the problems you are encountering. Perhaps it would be best if we had a telephone conversation. What is your availability this week?

        Donald A. Balasa, JD, MBA
        Executive Director, Legal Counsel

        American Association of Medical Assistants
        Ph: 800/228-2262 | Fax: 312/899-1259 | http://www.aama-ntl.org

        Visit us on Facebook! http://www.aama-ntl.org/facebook

        The CMA (AAMA): Health Care’s Most Versatile Professional

      • Luann Spencer says:

        I would like to talk to you about my situation with Kaplan University. I am available on Wednesday the 13th after about 3pm cst or the rest of the week in the morning before 11. Let me know if this is convenient and I will call you.

      • I would be happy to speak with you about this. Could you please call Thursday, June 14, from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. (Central), or 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.? You may also call Friday, June 15, until 3:00 p.m.

        I look forward to talking with you.

        Donald A. Balasa, JD, MBA
        Executive Director, Legal Counsel

        American Association of Medical Assistants
        Ph: 800/228-2262 | Fax: 312/899-1259 | http://www.aama-ntl.org

        Visit us on Facebook! http://www.aama-ntl.org/facebook

        The CMA (AAMA): Health Care’s Most Versatile Professional

  3. Anne Grimmer says:

    I’m going on 34 and I wonder if I’m too old! I am signed up to start an MA program in August at a vocational school. It is very affordable (less than $4000 for the entire program) and CAAHEP accredited but as Eileen said, everyone wants a minimum of 1 year experience and fluent in Spanish. I have seen ads that say “if you are not fully bilingual in Spanish, DO NOT APPLY” which I think is illegal. How can I get started in this profession? It seems like it is harder to break into than Fort Knox! I can’t even get a part-time job as a receptionist or file clerk in a medical office because no one will hire me without experience! Does anyone have any advice? I live in central Florida so if anyone knows of physicians or clinics that hire new MA grads, please let me know. Thank you.

  4. DW says:

    To all of the ladies stay encouraged! You are never too old!! I have been teaching MA’s for over twenty years and have students of all ages. One way to get some exp. is possibly volunteer to stay on whereever you did your externship if thats possible , even if only a couple hours of day to start giving you some time. Volunteerism counts also in your exp. Keep plugging and something will happen for you!

  5. Brian says:

    It is certainly never easy, but to those that are finding resistance to hiring anyone without experience, perhaps consider volunteering in a local hospital or urgent care center. This won’t work for everyone in every situation, but if you can, it’s a resume builder, and you may get a reference or two out of it.

  6. Pingback: School or Scam? St. Augustine School of Medical Assistants | Heart News Online.com

  7. Pingback: Legal complaints about St Augustine Medical Assistant School | What Is A Medical Assistant?

  8. Pingback: How to identify a diploma mill? » Online Cultus

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