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Are you interested in a career as a medical assistant in Pennsylvania or the surrounding states? This guide was created with you in mind! It will provide information about United Career Institute’s online Clinical Medical Assistant and Career In A Year Medical Assisting programs, the current healthcare landscape, frequently asked questions, and more!

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About United Career Institute:

United Career Institute, formerly Pennsylvania Institute of Technology (PIHT), has been an educator in Southwestern Pennsylvania since its establishment as PIHT in 1987. Offering short-term healthcare training in practical nursing and allied healthcare, United Career Institute helps address local employers’ workforce needs by preparing incoming professionals with hands-on experience and training.

In 2019, PIHT was rebranded, and the school was renamed United Career Institute. This transition was led by its sister school, West Virginia Junior College, to reflect better the current program offerings of the short-term career training school. In 2022, United Career Institute developed an online learning platform, that can be commonly referred to as UCI Online, for several allied healthcare programs that allow students to balance family, work, and school by completing didactic courses online while attending hands-on skill labs at the United Career Institute campus in Irwin, Pennsylvania.

With current training program offerings for associate degrees and diplomas in allied healthcare programs and practical nursing, UCI provides quality education to those seeking employment in these growing industries.

United Career Institute offers a hands-on, practical method of education that ensures individualized assistance and quality career training for every student. Our experienced staff and faculty members are dedicated to upholding the institution’s core values, Work Ethic, Exemplary, Caring, Accountability, Relationships, and Excellence. These fundamental values make the acronym WE CARE, which guides every individual within the organization. By adhering to such standards, United Career Institute successfully fulfills its mission of empowering change by creating opportunity.

United Core Values United Purpose

United Career Institute Accreditation & Licensing

United Career Institute is institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) to award associate degrees and diplomas. ABHES is a national accrediting agency recognized by the US Department of Education.

United Career Institute is licensed by the Pennsylvania State Board of Private Licensed Schools.

The United Career Institute Practical Nursing program is approved by the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing.

United Career Institute offers some programs that are approved by the State Approving Agency for students to use veterans’ benefits.

Medical Assisting Overview

Medical assistants play a vital role within the healthcare team, using their skills to support nurses, doctors, and other medical personnel in direct patient care and administrative tasks.

United Career Institute’s medical assisting training program equips medical assistants with the skills and knowledge to perform hands-on medical procedures, including blood drawing, conducting EKGs, collecting specimens, administering visual acuity tests, and more. Students will also acquire skills in back-of-office administrative tasks such as charting, using software, processing insurance, and other essential responsibilities. This comprehensive training ensures they possess a well-rounded and versatile skill set.

As one of the first points of contact for many patients in a medical facility, medical assistants are significant in shaping the initial impression of a patient’s experience. United Career Institute’s medical assistant training highlights efficiency and compassion, preparing students to provide a positive and welcoming experience for future patients. 

The demand for qualified medical assistants is anticipated to grow steadily. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a projected 14% increase in nationwide employment for medical assistant professionals from 2021 to 2031. This growth is attributed to various factors, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the healthcare industry, the shortage of medical professionals, the increasing healthcare needs of the aging baby boomer population, and the retirement of the current workforce. While local demands differ from national averages, pursuing a career in medical assisting could serve as a promising entry point into the healthcare field.

The United Career Institute Academic Process

United Career Institute has developed and refined an established five-step process to guide students through their journey at the institution: Learn, Practice, Apply, Earn, and Start.

Step One: Learn

In step one, students begin the foundational stage of their educational journey, acquiring essential knowledge and fundamental skills in their medical assisting classes. This is the groundwork for their success in the program and future careers.

Step Two: Practice

In step two, students actively apply the knowledge and skills gained in the classroom during hands-on lab experiences led by seasoned United Career Institute instructors.

Step Three: Apply

During step three, students will apply their accumulated knowledge and skills to a real-world healthcare setting during an externship facilitated by the United Career Institute career management department. This experiential learning opportunity allows students to gain hands-on experience in authentic healthcare environments.

Step Four: Earn

In step four, students complete their program and prepare for the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)* certification exam. This milestone signifies their readiness to step into the professional realm as certified medical assistants.

Step Five: Start

Upon program completion, graduates will receive their associate degree or diploma, allowing them to begin a fulfilling new career as a medical assistant. 

United Career Institute Academic Process

*Certification is contingent upon passing the corresponding industry certification exam.

Earning Your Associate in Specialized Business in Clinical Medical Assistant Degree

United Career Institute’s online Clinical Medical Assistant program prepares students for a medical assisting career in only 18 months. This innovative online training option allows students to complete didactic courses virtually and apply the skills learned in hands-on clinicals at the United Career Institute, PA, campus during select weekend clinical experiences throughout the program. Students can expect to learn direct patient care tasks and administrative skills, receive certification* preparation, and complete a real-world externship at a regional healthcare facility. 

Students will earn an Associate Degree in Specialized Business Clinical Medical Assistant upon completing the program. Combined with the National Healthcareer Association certifications the program prepares students to sit for, UCI alums will be prepared to enter the healthcare field as medical assistants. 

*Certification is contingent upon passing the corresponding industry certification exam.

Earning Your Medical Assisting Diploma

Students who wish to start their medical assisting careers in less time have the option to complete the “Career In A Year” online Medical Assisting diploma program in only 12 months. This accelerated training option allows students to gain the same training and hands-on experience as the degree program at a more rigorous pace. Students enrolled in the diploma program will complete medical assisting courses online, practice skills during hands-on clinical experiences at the UCI campus in Irwin, PA, and then complete an externship at a regional healthcare facility. In addition, students will be prepared to sit for National Healthcareer Association certification* exams.

Students who complete this program will be conferred a Diploma in Medical Assisting. Paired with industry-specific certifications*, this will qualify them for positions in the medical assisting field. Many students enrolling in the medical assisting diploma option do so to gain the knowledge and skills to begin their careers quickly, enter the workforce, and earn an income in less time. Then, if they choose to, they can return to United Career Institute and earn their associate degree through the online Clinical Medical Assistant program while working.

*Certification is contingent upon passing the corresponding industry certification exam.

United Career Institute’s Medical Assisting To Practical Nursing Pathway

United Career Institute offers a Medical Assisting to Practical Nursing pathway option for students interested in furthering their medical careers by becoming a practical nurse while working as medical assistants. This option allows students to complete the medical assisting training program to gain fundamental healthcare knowledge and skills, then graduate and begin working in the medical field to earn an income and valuable real-world experience. Then, while working as a medical assistant, they can return to United Career Institute as practical nursing training program students. 

Beginning a career as a medical assistant before becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN)° can benefit students, as it allows them to become accustomed to the medical field before starting a rigorous Practical Nursing program. Additionally, United Career Institute graduates who have completed the medical assisting training program or another of our allied healthcare programs are eligible for a Nursing Pathway Grant^ to help finance their education.

Medical Assisting to Nursing Pathway

^See catalog for detailed eligibility requirements.
*Certification is contingent upon passing the corresponding industry certification exam.
°Passing the NCLEX-PN exam is required to become a Practical Nurse.

The National Healthcareer Association (NHA)

As part of their training at United Career Institute, medical assisting students will be prepared to sit for several National Healthcareer Association (NHA) exams, including the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)* exam, the Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT)** exam, and the Certified EKG/ECG Technician (CET)** exam. 

The National Healthcareer Association has conferred certifications to allied healthcare professionals for over thirty years. The widespread recognition of NHA certifications by healthcare employers can potentially provide graduates with a competitive advantage in the hiring process. Successfully passing an industry certification exam proves to prospective employers that the individual has met nationally recognized standards of skill and competency. 

Obtaining certifications from a reputable third-party agency, such as the NHA, also serves as an effective means for individuals to solidify their knowledge and enhance their professional resumes.

*Certification is contingent upon passing the corresponding industry certification exam. Required/Included in Tuition/Fees.
**Certification is contingent upon passing the corresponding industry certification exam. Optional at own expense.

Working As A Medical Assistant

The training provided to medical assisting students at United Career Institute prepares them with the necessary skills to qualify for various positions in medical settings. Graduates have been known to secure roles in family medicine practices, hospitals, laboratories, outpatient clinics, and other healthcare facilities. With experience in clinical skills and administrative tasks, UCI alums can pursue positions that align with their personal preferences, whether focusing on the back-end responsibilities of medical assisting or direct patient care. For instance, one role may emphasize tasks such as obtaining patient vitals and charting, while another may center around scheduling and software usage.

Regardless of a medical assistant’s chosen work environment, they can expect to work closely alongside nurses, doctors, nurse practitioners, and other healthcare team members. Medical assistants play a crucial role in ensuring the smooth operation of a medical facility and contribute to providing patients with a positive experience.

Where Can A Medical Assistant Work

Benefits of Attending United Career Institute

UCI Online’s unique approach to education allows students to complete their medical assisting courses virtually while maintaining the high-quality standard of learning and hands-on training that is present in a residential training program. We understand that students must balance family, work, and school, so the student experience is our top priority.

A significant benefit of United Career Institute versus a traditional institution is our direct admission approach. This means that our students will save precious time and money by entering courses directly related to medical assisting once accepted into the program rather than taking unnecessary classes to prolong their education. Additionally, because the program is designed to be completed in less than two years, students will take courses in an accelerated, 6-week format. This means that students can expect to be challenged academically as their classes cover more material in less time. 

Students and alums will have access to our career management department during their time at United Career Institute and beyond. Equipped with the tools to assist students with resume assistance, tutoring, interview preparation, externship organization, and community networking, the career management team is an excellent student resource. UCI graduates will have continued access to the career management team to assist with career guidance and overseeing refresher courses at no additional tuition cost. Career Management Services are subject to specific conditions and requirements and continued campus operations. Please see the campus catalog for complete details. 

Finally, medical assisting students at United Career Institute will be prepared to sit for several National Healthcareer Association (NHA) certification* exams. This certification preparation has been weaved into the curriculum, hands-on training, and externship experience to provide students with valuable experience and a well-rounded education.

United Career Institute recognizes the value of education, so we strive to ensure each student has exceptional support and resources from the first time they contact us to graduation and into their careers.

*Certification is contingent upon passing the corresponding industry certification exam.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What does a medical assistant do?
A: Medical assistants can have many job responsibilities, including direct patient care tasks such as phlebotomy, EKGs, vitals, injections, and more. They also possess administrative skills, including managing electronic records, software usage, and insurance processing.

Q: How long is a medical assistant training program?
A: United Career Institute offers a 12-month “career in a year” Medical Assisting diploma program and an 18-month Clinical Medical Assistant associate degree program. Both options allow students to complete their education, prepare for certifications, graduate, and begin their careers in two years or less.

Q: How do you get a medical assistant certification?
A: National Healthcareer Association certification* preparation is incorporated directly into the Medical Assisting diploma and Clinical Medical Assistant programs. Students will prepare for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant* exam at no additional cost and be prepared to sit for the optional at their own expense, Certified Phlebotomy Technician** and Certified EKG Technician** exams if they choose.

*Certification is contingent upon passing the corresponding industry certification exam. Required/Included in Tuition/Fees.
**Certification is contingent upon passing the corresponding industry certification exam. Optional at own expense.

Get Started On Your Journey with United Career Institute!

Do you still have questions about United Career Institute’s online medical assisting training programs? Our admissions team members are here to help answer any specific questions you may have. Contact us by calling 866-UCIONLINE or by requesting information today!

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Scholarships are available for many of our programs and vary by location.