Kelly Shriver – Staff Highlight

United Career Institute Mt. Braddock is excited to introduce you to our new Allied Health Programs Director, Kelly Shriver! Kelly oversees all allied health programs, including Medical Billing/Administration, Medical Assisting, and Clinical Medical Assistant (our 12-month diploma program.)

Though Kelly is new to the United Mt. Braddock family, she has been a part of the United Irwin family since its inception in 2019. We are so happy to have her as part of both teams now!

Kelly’s educational background is in healthcare. She graduated from Indiana County Technology Center with her diploma in Medical Assisting and from Robert Morris University with her Bachelors of Science in Health Services Administration.

Kelly has a plethora of experience in the healthcare industry. Before coming to United, she worked at places such as Excela Health and her alma mater. She says, “I started my career as a medical assistant working in a neurology practice at Excela Health. I moved into a family practice setting 8 months later. After working in family practice for almost 3 years, I was promoted to be a quality coordinator. I worked closely with physicians to make sure patients were receiving all their necessary health screenings. After a year in this role, I was approached to join the organizational, education, and training team, which I happily accepted.  One year into that role, I was promoted to team lead. While working full time at Excela Health, I also taught for two years at Indiana County Technology Center for their evening adult Medical Assistant program.”

Training future medical professionals is one of Kelly’s favorite parts of working at United. “I wanted to get back into being an instructor as it was something I truly enjoyed doing.  Training future medical assistants is really where I saw myself working,” she said. She also loves the familial atmosphere at United. “From the top of the ladder down, everyone truly cares about you and your wellbeing. It really is a great place to work with amazing people,” she continued.

In addition to training future medical professionals, Kelly is motivated by her daughter, Harper. She said, “My daughter Harper motivates me more than anything else. I want to show her that no matter what she wants to do in life, she can achieve it with hard work, dedication, and love. I want to be the best role model I can be for her.”

Kelly is most proud of her academic accomplishments, specifically her time at Robert Morris. “I am most proud of graduating magna cum laude from Robert Morris because I started my program while working a full-time and part-time job and finished it with a newborn baby. Achieving a high GPA was an amazing accomplishment,” she said.

Kelly has some big plans for her future, both in her education and career! “My long-term career goals would be to further my education by getting my master’s in the field of education.  Down the line, I would love to take on a more leadership-oriented role in the organization, too,” she said!

Something you may not know about Kelly is that she wanted to be a special education teacher growing up. “I wanted to be a special education teacher, specifically at the elementary level. I went to elementary school with an autistic boy, and working with him on a daily basis made me so happy. Even though I didn’t end up doing that as a profession, I am still happy where life took me.”

To learn more about United Career Institute, request information here!

Shawn Hull – Student Highlight

United Career Institute Mt. Braddock is thrilled to introduce you to our May Student of the Month, Shawn Hull! Shawn is a Medical Billing and Coding student and has been with us for almost a year. Since he stepped foot into this building, he has been a joy to be around!

Prior to attending United, Shawn served in the Air Force and then attended Triangle Tech. While some discouraged him from attending school at that point, he persevered and used their doubt as motivation to reach his goals. He says, “After I retired from the Air Force, I attended Triangle Tech and received my Associate in Specialized Technology Degree in Refrigeration, Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning. Even though it had been many years since I attended high school, I took the opportunity to further my education to provide better for my family. When I first started talking about going back to school, there were some that said I was crazy and that I would be lucky if I graduate. That’s all it took, and two years later, I graduated first in my class with a 3.52 GPA.” Shawn worked as an HVAC installer for a local heating and air conditioning company before he decided to return to school again.

When Shawn began looking into schools where he could continue his education, he couldn’t ignore all the great things he heard about United Career Institute. “I had friends and family members who attended and graduated from United and heard nothing but great things about the school [and] its curriculum and staff. United’s reputation was hard to ignore, which made my decision to attend United a no-brainer,” he says.

Shawn is part of United’s Medical Billing and Coding program. His interest in this particular program comes from his desire to be in the healthcare field but his aversion to needles. He says, “There has always been a part of me that wanted to be a part of the healthcare field. I choose the Medical Billing and Coding program because, like I said a part of me always wanted to be a part of the healthcare field. The truth is I’m not a big fan of needles. I don’t like getting poked and I wouldn’t want to do that to someone else. That’s why I decided to go the office route.”

The small class sizes and attentiveness of faculty and staff are some of Shawn’s favorite parts of attending United. “I really like the small class size. It gives the teachers the ability to pass on all the information we need to succeed with less distractions than you would have with larger classes.” While Shawn thinks all of the faculty and staff at United are “awesome,” one instructor in particular stood out to him because of how welcoming she was. “I can’t say that I have a favorite. All the teachers and staff are awesome. They are always available if you need them. Whether it be before class or after, they always make themselves available. There is one, however, that comes to mind more than the others, Jade Teets. The first day of classes, Jade made me feel very comfortable, especially since I am the only guy in the school and all my new classmates are young enough to be my daughters.”

Shawn had a little less trouble selecting his favorite classes… “As far as my favorite class I would have to say first the coding classes and then Anatomy and Physiology. The coding class because that’s going to be a big part of my new career. A&P is just a very interesting area, and I learn something new every class. Not too bad for a 51-year old that thought he knew it all.”

After Shawn graduates, he hopes to work in a family practitioner’s office, though he says he would be happy in just about any healthcare setting!

In five years, Shawn wants what many people want…to be comfortable in his career. “In five years, I’ll be that much closer to retiring, again, but I see myself finally having a career that I feel comfortable in and enjoy as much as I did my Air Force career,” he said.

Shawn says he would absolutely recommend United Career Institute to a friend! “I don’t think there is another medical career institute around that can touch the personable and professional environment that United has. The staff are in a category of their own when it comes to secondary education. From admissions to financial aid to teachers they all are second to none. Knowing now how professional everyone is here at United, tells me I made the right and only decision to attend United Career Institute to finally fulfill my dream.”

United Career Institute is lucky to have a student as dedicated as Shawn! If your story sounds like his, request information here!

The Return to Campus

As more and more people get vaccinated, and things start opening back up, we are all transitioning back to our in-person lives. Our children are returning to school, many people have returned to their in-person jobs, and schools are bringing students back on campus.

Here at United Career Institute, we are so excited for our students to return to campus. Like before, there are many positive advantages of on-campus learning. When you enroll in a career-focused degree program here at United, you enjoy an interactive education, receive a variety of in-person support, and build great connections.

Interactive Education


Students who choose United to start their path to a successful career have an interactive educational experience. Our class sizes are small and intimate, so you receive personal attention and instruction from your teachers. We understand that each student has unique needs and learning preferences, so we work with you to ensure you have the support needed to excel in your classes.

While completing your healthcare degree program, you will learn hands-on skills to apply directly when you start your career. Our training programs include interactive labs that allow you to practice these skills with the guidance of your experienced instructors.

You also have the opportunity to complete an externship, providing you with real-world experience in your chosen career field. This on-the-job experience in a real healthcare setting gives you the confidence and credentials to set you up for success when applying for jobs.

In-Person Support

As you complete your interactive educational experience, we offer a variety of in-person support at both of our campuses. From the moment you first reach out to us, our helpful admissions team will guide you through the process of enrolling in school. From filling out your application to completing your FAFSA to registering for classes, we are here to help!

Once you are enrolled and begin your healthcare training program, our academic team will support you every step of the way as you complete your degree. We offer academic advising, tutoring services, help developing your study and test-taking skills, and help setting your academic goals.

As you get closer to completing your degree program, our career services team helps you prepare to succeed in getting a job and beyond. Your dedicated career services director will help you develop a five-year career plan, create your resume and cover letter, help you practice with mock interviews, and facilitate job interviews.

Great Connections

When you attend healthcare training classes at our Irwin or Mt. Braddock campus locations, you have the opportunity to build lasting connections with a variety of people, including the staff, your instructors, and your classmates. With our family atmosphere, you will feel right at home here in your classes.

Creating these meaningful connections while in school gives you a more enjoyable experience and helps you build your professional network, which can be valuable for years to come. You also have the opportunity to build connections with potential employers as you complete your externship experience.

At United, we truly care about you, your education, and your future success. We are dedicated to helping you reach your career goals with our WE CARE approach to education. Whatever you need to succeed, we are here to help you every step of the way.

Get Started Today

Are you looking for a school that offers career-focused degree programs and personalized support throughout your educational experience? Then you’ve come to the right place at United. Explore our Medical Assisting, Medical Billing and Coding, and Practical Nursing programs today. Request information now to get started!

Shaquna West – Student Highlight

The pandemic has forced changes in many people’s lives, and United Career Institute Medical Assisting student Shaquna West is, unfortunately, no different. “Before COVID hit, I was working as a kitchen manager and working full-time.” However, like so many other food industry workers, Shaq (as she likes to be referred to) found herself back at home being a full-time mother of 6. “I love being with my family, but I also had a desire to take my education and career to the next level. I started originally with Penn Foster but wasn’t getting the help when I needed it. I felt like I was on my own, so I hopped online and searched for medical assisting school, and United Career Institute was the first to pop up,” she said.

After talking to a United admissions advisor and scheduling a tour, Shaq decided to begin her classes. Her love for helping people and her dream of ultimately becoming a nurse has driven her in her studies. “I love the smaller classes at UCI, because it allows the instructors to focus on the students. If you need help, they go the extra mile to get you the information you need.” Shaq listed Arianna as one of her favorite teachers because she pushes her to do better in everything, giving her the motivation she needs. She also enjoys Kelly Clark’s classes because she breaks everything down into terms that are easy for her and the other students to understand.

Shaq looks to the future often, and when she graduates, she envisions her dream career as one where she works in MaGee’s Women’s Hospital or Children’s Hospital. Five years from now, she can see herself continuing her education until she becomes a registered nurse.

In conclusion, Shaq felt obligated to express her feelings about referring others to the United Irwin Campus. “It’s a great school, and they truly put the students first. Everyone is so helpful and willing to get you any information you need!”  With Shaquna’s dedication and work ethic, we certainly see her being successful during her program here!

To learn more about United’s Medical Assisting program, request information here!

What’s the Difference Between a CNA and MA?

Many people want to start a career in the healthcare field, and for a good reason. The healthcare industry continues to grow rapidly, and the variety of jobs available is expanding as well. Working in healthcare also gives you the chance to help people and make a difference in their lives when they need it most.

There are so many opportunities to begin a healthcare career that it can be confusing to try and figure it out on your own. With this in mind, we’re going to help by explaining the difference between a certified nursing assistant and a medical assistant.

Career Outlook


The career outlook for medical assistants is promising. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected growth rate for medical assistants in the United States from 2019-2029 is 19%, well above the 4% average growth rate for all occupations. This means that there will be even more medical assistants needed in the future, and employers will need qualified people to fill these positions.

For certified nursing assistants in the United States, the BLS estimates that the growth rate will be 8% between 2019 and 2029. This is still more than the average rate of 4% but not anywhere near as high as the growth rate for medical assistants.

Skills Required

Medical assistants perform various duties while on the job, including both clinical and administrative tasks that focus on assessing patients and helping doctors with patient care and treatment. Skills a medical assistant needs to learn include taking vital signs, helping with examinations, giving injections, preparing lab tests, and handling patient information.

At United, medical assisting students have the opportunity to practice their hands-on skills in a real healthcare setting as part of an externship. This real-world experience sets students up for success as they begin applying for jobs and start their careers.

Certified nursing assistants focus more on direct patient care and help with daily living activities. Performing baths and cleaning patients, helping patients get dressed and use the bathroom, moving patients between beds and wheelchairs, feeding patients, and changing linens are all common necessary skills of certified nursing assistants.

Training Needed

To start a career in medical assisting, you will need specialized training that prepares you for this specific job. Most medical assisting degree programs can be completed in under two years and include classroom instruction and hands-on skills. It’s also a good idea to choose a medical assistant program that includes preparation for professional certifications, as many employers prefer candidates who have these credentials.

For example, in our Medical Assisting program here at United, students learn valuable knowledge and practice their hands-on skills in their medical assisting classes, labs, and externship. Students also prepare for healthcare certifications specific to being a medical assistant, including the National Certified Clinical Medical Assistant*, Certified EKG Technician**, and Certified Phlebotomy Technician** certifications.

To become a certified nursing assistant, specialized training is required for this career path, and it is usually completed in under six months. The training must be state-approved and typically teaches direct patient care, patient safety, and documentation. CNAs must also pass a competency exam and complete a number of hours of hands-on clinical training, which varies by state.

Work Environment

According to BLS data, medical assistants are most likely to work in physician’s offices, with 57% employed there in 2019. Another 15% is working in hospitals, and the rest in outpatient care centers and at chiropractors. Most medical assistants are full-time employees with 40-hour workweeks. Medical assisting professionals who work in medical facilities that are always open, like hospitals, may work evenings, weekends, and holidays.

According to the BLS, certified nursing assistants are more likely to work in nursing care facilities, with 37% working there, and hospitals, with 27% working there. The remainder of nursing assistants work in retirement and assisted living facilities, home healthcare services, and government. The job duties are more physically demanding and strenuous, as CNAs are on their feet a lot of the time and expected to lift over 50 pounds. Most certified nursing assistants work full time, but some work part-time. They may work longer shifts and more on nights, weekends, and holidays.

Get Started

Now you know the difference between medical assistants and certified nursing assistants! If you’ve decided to go with medical assisting for your career, we may have the perfect Medical Assisting program for you. With hands-on training, academic support, and career services, we can help you reach your career goals. Request information today to get started!

 

*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.

Tammy Kerner – Staff Highlight

United Career Institute Mt. Braddock is excited to introduce you to our Front Office Manager/Registrar, Tammy Kerner! Tammy started at United in August of 2020 and has quickly become a very valued member of our team!

Tammy’s background is in business administration and she has spent the majority of her career working in the administrative side of offices. “Most of my career I’ve worked in an office environment, working administrative roles. I worked at the Herald Standard Newspaper for 12 years. I managed the store accounts. I worked at BAE systems for 13 years. I was promoted to three different positions while employed there. I started at the front desk with administrative duties. I worked with the material team as their assistant. My last position I held there was in procurement.”

If you were to ask Tammy what she does in a day, the list would go on and on because her responsibilities are varied. Among other things, she is in charge of greeting and checking in students and guests, overseeing attendance submissions, and processing and sending student transcripts. She is also always willing to lend a helping hand for student events, fundraisers, or staff events. This variety keeps her motivated and challenged each day and is part of why she enjoys working at United. “I love variety, and this position offers changes to my everyday workload,” Tammy said.

Some of Tammy’s favorite parts of working at United include working with the staff and talking with the students each morning. She loves to see the students excel and grow! Tammy feels the same way about her passions outside of work. She is very involved with her church, specifically the music team. She is very motivated by her team. “I love watching them learn new music and grow in their talent,” she says.

Tammy’s family is very special to her. When asked what she is most proud of, Tammy said, “My son and daughter, and how they have exceeded in their jobs and how hard they work to achieve their goals.” While Tammy enjoys her work, she hopes to one day retire to spend time with her kids and two grandkids who call her BB.

It is clear that Tammy is passionate about her family and her music team. When asked to share something that others may not know about her, she said, “I love music. I’m a musician and worship leader at my church. I have two grandchildren. They call me BB. I have a passion for helping others when in need.” Tammy’s desire to help people is clear to anybody who interacts with her at United. She is always willing to jump in and help out whenever needed and is always available should a student need something, whether it be copies of something or just an encouraging word! United Career Institute is lucky to have her!

To learn more about the staff at United Career Institute, request information here!

Healthcare Career Training

At United, we work hard to empower our students to succeed at school, in their careers, and life. With hands-on skills, fast-track classes, and personalized instruction, we’re here for you every step of the way!

Hands-On Skills

Our healthcare training programs teach students essential hands-on skills that you need to excel in your future career. You will practice these skills in our on-campus classrooms and labs, gaining valuable knowledge and experience.

You will also practice your hands-on skills during the externship or clinical that’s part of your program. Completing an externship or clinical experience gives you the chance to apply what you’ve learned in the real world. This also gives you great experience to add to your resume when you begin applying for jobs.

Fast-Track Classes

We train students for fulfilling healthcare careers with fast-track classes that get you through school and into your career faster. We understand that you don’t want to spend 4-6 years in school, wasting time and money. Our healthcare degree and diploma programs are designed to give you the exact knowledge and skills you need for your chosen career, without a bunch of general education classes.

At United, you are able to complete school and graduate faster because all our programs are direct admission, meaning you begin taking classes for your career right when you start school. For example, our direct admission Practical Nursing program is completed in only 12 months because you are accepted directly into the program.

Personalized Instruction

Every student who walks through our doors has unique educational needs. We strive to provide each student with personalized instruction to learn the way that fits you best. Our instructors truly care about their students’ success, and work with you one-on-one to complete your classes.

We offer academic support to empower each student to reach their full potential. Some of the services we offer include creating an academic plan, developing better study skills, and providing tutoring.

Get Started Today

Are you ready to get started on your path to an exciting career in healthcare? Explore our healthcare programs and request information today!

United Learning Experience

For those who have never been to our campuses, we want to give you a sneak peek of what it’s like for students who attend United Career Institute. Our Irwin and Mt. Braddock campuses train students for rewarding healthcare careers. Read on to discover what it’s like to attend school at United!

Hands-On Skills

Students enrolled in our healthcare training programs have the opportunity to learn a variety of hands-on skills that are essential for their future careers. Practicing these skills gives you valuable experience that you will need while on the job caring for real patients or dealing with real office situations. Check out some of the awesome hands-on skills United students have practiced in their classes!

Classroom Instruction

At United, we provide students with up-to-date classrooms and labs to complete your classes and earn your degree. You will learn from experienced instructors who truly care about you and your career. Our classroom and clinical lab instructors support you in every way possible with a one-on-one approach to education. Check out United students enjoying their educational experience in the classroom!

Certification Prep

We understand that today’s employers want candidates who are qualified and prepared to perform their specific job. That’s why our healthcare programs include training and preparation for certifications* or licenses that are valued by healthcare employers. As a student, you will prepare for those that are specific to your chosen program. Check out some of our students as they prepare for and celebrate earning their professional healthcare certifications!

Student Success

Our purpose is to empower change by creating opportunity, and we are dedicated to this mission every day. We strive to help every student realize their dreams of having a successful, fulfilling career. As you go through your learning experience with United, we are here for you every step of the way, from when you first contact us to learning in your classes to graduation and beyond. Check out some of our awesome students and graduates and request information today to get started on your own path to a successful career!

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

4 Tips For High School Seniors Choosing A School In 2021

This school year has been very different for high school seniors, but one thing has not changed: each of you must decide what you’re going to do after you graduate from high school.

Graduating in the middle of a pandemic can seem scary and be filled with uncertainty. At United Career Institute, we are here to help you every step of the way. Check out our top four tips for high school seniors choosing a school in 2021!

Know Your Options

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed many things, but as a high school senior, you still have a variety of options after graduation. You could go straight into the workforce with a job in retail or food service. You could attend a traditional university and plan to spend the next 4-6 years there. If you don’t want to spend this much time and money in school, a career-focused degree may be the better choice for you.

Like the ones offered here at United Career Institute, accelerated degree programs allow you to finish school quicker, saving you time and money as you earn your degree.

To help you choose the option that’s right for you, talk with your parents, teachers, guidance counselors, and friends. Listen to their thoughts on the different options, as they may bring up points that you hadn’t thought about. You should always do your own research because, at the end of the day, you are the one making this choice. Deciding what to do after you graduate high school is a big deal and can impact your life now and in the future.

Make Your Plan

Now that you know your options for after high school, it’s time to create a plan that works for you. Your plan will depend on what you want to do in your career. For example, if you want to become a licensed practical nurse, you will need to attend training that prepares you for the NCLEX-PN exam. Write your career goals down, including what field you want to work in and what specific job you want to perform.

If you are unsure about what career is best for you, consider taking our career test or finding one online to complete. A career test can help guide you in the direction best for you by taking into consideration your strengths, interests, skills, and experiences.

For those of you who already know what career you want, now you need to figure out how to get there. What degree, skills, and experience do you need? Does your career require a specific certification or license? Will you need to be trained in specific areas and tasks? Answering these questions will help guide you to the right school that offers what you need to succeed.

Start Applying Now

You’ve made your plan, so now you’re ready to begin applying to the school that best fits your needs. Research the schools that offer the degree or career training program you need to work in your chosen career field. In addition to your program, find out what other services and learning environments are offered by the schools. Some questions to ask include:

  • Are the classes accelerated or traditional length?
  • In what ways does the school support students?
  • Is there hands-on training included in the program?
  • What career services are offered to students?
  • Does the school have positive online reviews?

Once you decide on the school you want to attend, contact them to get started. You may be able to take a virtual tour of the school to get a feel for what it’s like. Be sure to write down any questions you have about the program or school so that when you meet with them for an admissions interview, you will be prepared.

Complete the Process

Once you have applied to your chosen school, it’s time to complete the process to get enrolled. When you meet with an admissions advisor, they will let you know what you need to enroll in your program. Be sure to plan for due dates for items you must complete, such as entrance exams and essays. You will also need to complete your FAFSA and apply for any scholarships you may qualify for.

At United Career Institute, our helpful admissions advisors work with you one-on-one to create a career plan designed just for you. We understand each student is unique, with different goals, needs, and educational experience requirements. Our admission advisors guide you through the enrollment process from the moment you contact us to starting your classes and beyond. We are here to help you every step of the way.

If you’re a high school student wondering what to do after graduation, call us or request information today, and we will help you get started on your path to a great career!

Stacey Davis – Staff Highlight

“Being in control of your own motivation and happiness is a great feeling!” Those are the words of the newest team member of United Career Institute Irwin’s Campus, Stacy Davis. “I like to motivate myself, and that can be very rewarding.” Stacey’s path to joining our team may not have been a traditional one. She graduated from college with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Marketing and put that education to use by moving to New York City, where she was a fashion blogger and involved with social media marketing. She recalls that move as one of her proudest moments, and says “I moved to NYC on a whim, and it was terrifying! But I’m so glad I pushed myself to do it, and it was an experience that I will never forget!”

Upon returning to the area, Stacey worked in the restaurant industry and recently managed a wedding venue as a wedding coordinator. She relates that experience to why she originally applied for Front Desk/Registrar at UCI-Irwin. “I like seeing and helping people when they are happy and pursuing their dreams. That certainly is the case as they plan for their wedding, and I believe that is the case for students beginning their path to reach their career goals.” She says she chose to work at UCI because she liked the atmosphere from the very beginning, and she made her final decision based on her favorite thing so far, the people. “Everyone has been so nice and welcoming; it’s like an extended family.” Stacey sees herself as a creature of comfort and would love to have a long career at UCI. She believes her attention to detail and organizational skills will help her tremendously in her role.

To say Stacey might be a little bit of a cat person is an understatement. Stacey and her husband once decided to foster a group of kittens for the local animal rescue shelter. “Our guest bedroom quickly turned into a kitten sanctuary until they were able to be adopted out. It was really wonderful for us, even though my cats didn’t particularly like all the extra house guests.”

So far, Stacey’s Type A personality has been a great fit for our school and our students, and she has been a quick study on the responsibilities of her position. Join me in welcoming Stacey to the United Career Institute Irwin’s family and being a super addition to our team!