Students say training school took their cash but failed to deliver

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ProTrain is a company that promises world-class training for education to employment, but Antonietta Bartoli says the courses left her broke and jobless.

“They just pocketed the money without delivering what they say they are going to deliver,” she told 8News.

Bartoli registered in 2016 for ProTrain‘s Phlebotomy Technician course. It’s the practice of taking blood from patients.

The $2,000 course was offered on the campus of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in a partnership contracted with Community College Workforce Alliance (CCWA).

“It was in a place of prominence,” Bartoli said. “They were in a beautiful building on the J Sergeant Reynolds campus.”

She passed the 12-week course in blood work with flying colors, earning her certificate and passing the national exam.

According to ProTrain’s handbook, students are then promised an internship within 60 days of completing the classroom portion.

“The paper that we were given says they will arrange an internship for us unless we have a specific site in mind,” Bartoli said while reading from the handbook.

Problem is, 60 days went by and nothing — no internship in a lab, hospital or doctor’s office — as promised.

Bartoli began calling and emailing ProTrain for answers.

After months of going back and forth in emails, the Henrico resident finally got something.

“Then I was finally assigned to a small clinic in Charles City 50 miles from here,” she explained.

Bartoli says even that didn’t live up to expectations.

Her two-week internship was cut short to just 60 hours and she only got to complete 29 of her 100 practice punctures. Practice Bartoli says most potential employers look for.

“I was also told I had to leave by ProTrain because they needed to put someone else in my place,” she says. 

Bartoli’s not the only one complaining.

In a letter to 8News, another student who wants to remain anonymous says she too had problems getting her promised internship.

After a battle with ProTrain, she says she was finally was given one 80 miles away. She then had to wait 4 to 6 months for her diploma to arrive.

8News spoke with a former ProTrain teacher. That teacher keeps in touch with their students. She says two years later, most of the student still haven’t had an internship.

8News found online reviews for ProTrain to be less than positive. One labeled it, “a certificate mill.”

Another one alleged it’s a “papermill sham.”

ProTrain,  which is based in North Carolina, is a licensed proprietary school by the North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges.  

ProTrain refused 8News requests for an interview, but in an email, Chief Executive Officer Betty Gardner told 8News in their 14 years, “ProTrain has trained thousands of students’ and consistently gets an A-plus rating from the Better Business Bureau.”

In regards to Bartoli, Gardner says “ProTrain did everything right by her” and that “she is fully certified and eligible for employment in Virginia.”

“Most laboratories, they do like to have some people with experience,” Bartoli said.

8News wanted to know who ProTrain has internship connections with. Gardner refused to disclose that information.

So, 8News did some checking, asking hospitals and labs if they ever partnered with ProTrain.  

VCU Medical Center, HCA, DaVita, LabCorp and Virginia Blood Services all told us they’ve never worked with ProTrain.

 “It became clear to me and a few other people that they just didn’t have the connection,” Bartoli said.

8News also asked ProTrain about their success rate, and Gardner admitted to 8News that of the 54 students in the medical program at CCWA last year, only seven were placed in internships.

Gardner blames that on students not completing required paperwork.

“The fact of the matter is they promised an internship they never provided,” Bertoli said. “That is not a school I will ever go back to.”

We also reached out locally to the community college workforce alliance that contracts with Protrain. They tell us they’ve enrolled more than 300 students in 73 classes taught mostly by Protrain instructors and, quote, “CCWA has only received one student complaint about a ProTrain-instructed class.”

However, they also tell us, “CCWA has not contracted with ProTrain to provide for a phlebotomy technician program since early spring 2016.”

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