Excela Health – Externship Highlight

One of the core values of United Career Institute is relationships; “we build meaningful and trusted relationships at the foundation of our culture.” Through these relationships, we provide our students with a well-rounded educational experience that will give them hands-on experience in their field of study.

United accomplishes this through an externship component of the Medical Assisting and Medical Billing/Administration programs. The students’ externship allows them to go into a real-world setting and apply the knowledge and skills they have learned at the campus.

For externships to work, you have great employer partners willing to accept students to apply these skills, and we do not have a shortage of partners at the Irwin campus. One of our partners is Excela Health, and many students have performed their externship at one of the many facilities that they operate. Excela Health brought together three hospitals and other healthcare affiliates to meet the health care needs of those in Westmoreland, northern Fayette, and southern Indiana counties. We are honored to work with; Frick Hospital in Mount PleasantLatrobe Hospital in Latrobe, and Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg. 

Students completing their externship with Excela achieve various clinical experiences, and Excela has been incredibly accommodating when it comes to United Career Institute students. We asked their representatives some key questions to explore why Excela likes to participate in these externship experiences, and they were indeed quick to answer.

When asked, “what value does a United student receive completing an externship with your organization?” Office Manager Nicole Zerone was quick to respond, saying, “We believe hands-on is so important, and we like to provide students support learning hands-on. We have all been there before and love to help students out.” When we asked the question, “What value does your organization receive having a United student complete their externship at your business?” she responded just as quickly, explaining, “It gives us an opportunity to mold someone into a good employee and give them the tools they need to succeed should they be employed by Excela.” United Career Institute could not value the relationship with Excela enough.

When it comes to giving students insight into their futures, we had to conclude with this perspective. “What advice would you give a student entering school in 2021/2022?” Zerone replied, “Take it one day at a time and learn as much as you can. Be attentive to your experiences and take constructive criticism, as all of these things can help you to become a good employee.”

To learn more about United’s externship program or if you are interested in getting the training you need to work at a place like Excela Health, request information here!

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!

Medical Assisting Student Begins Externship

One of the key elements of United Career Institute’s Medical Assisting program is the opportunity to complete a 12-week externship at the end of the program. An externship can set the groundwork for your future career by allowing students to obtain on-the-job experience in a real-world setting. An extern works alongside existing employees in the form of “shadowing experience.” This experience under the watchful eye of seasoned staff or faculty members allows students to build on the skills gained in the classroom and school labs and demonstrate knowledge in a work setting.

We caught up with Medical Assisting student Amanda Cluss, who recently began her externship at Excela West Center for Internal Medicine, and asked her what her experience has been like so far. “More than anything, everyone I’ve met has been so helpful and informative. They go out of their way to assist you in getting started, and I love the work environment there; everyone works as a team!” Amanda’s experience is not unique. Many United Career students echo very similar experiences with all the healthcare providers that assist the school in placing externs, such as UPMC, Allegheny Health Network, Premier Medical, and MedExpress, in naming a few. United’s working relationship with leaders in healthcare provides such a vast exposure to different types of settings a student may wish to start their career in. Excela is no exception!

Excela Health, one of the region’s leading providers of advanced medical care, was founded in 2004. Excela Health brought together three hospitals – Frick Hospital in Mount Pleasant, Latrobe Hospital in Latrobe, and Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg – along with other health care affiliates to meet the health care needs of those in Westmoreland, northern Fayette, and southern Indiana counties.

To serve the needs of the communities better, they actively recruit new physicians and currently have a medical staff of more than 700 physicians and allied health professionals in 35 clinical specialties, along with more than 4,800 employees and 797 volunteers. At the same time, they work to enhance access to their services through outpatient locations all across the region.

Having this opportunity has already done so much for Amanda. “It has allowed me to immediately bring my confidence up, and it has shined a light on the discipline in which I would like to start my career,” she says.

To learn more about United Career Institute’s externship program, request information here!

Medical Assisting Students At Irwin Begin Externship

Classroom knowledge lays the foundation for the Medical Assisting program at United Career Institute Irwin. Classes like Medical Terminology and Anatomy & Physiology are the building blocks for students to advance in their careers. However, hands-on skill learning and application will always be the key component of our Medical Assisting program. United Career Institute started our first class of medical assisting students in September of 2019. To start the new year, those three students will be the first ever to begin their 12-week externships with local healthcare providers.

“It’s an exciting and fulfilling time,” says Campus President Arnold Thimons. “To think back when we opened this campus with these three students, and now their goals are coming to fruition, could not make me more proud!” Since that inaugural class, the Medical Assisting student population has grown to 35, and that number continues to grow each week. With the incredible feedback from local healthcare providers like Excela Health, Premier Medical, Allegheny Health Network, UPMC, William Penn Care Center, and many others, our students are exposed to such great opportunities to spend 12 weeks, the length of their externship, shadowing and applying the skills they’ve learned on campus in the real world. “I tell my students to look at these 12 weeks as a 12-week job interview,” says Thimons. “Students have input in the area and discipline that their interests lie, and if they perform well during their externship, the goal would be to get hired at that facility immediately upon graduation.”

During this COVID pandemic, it is vitally important to train and make available healthcare workers for local hospitals, doctors’ offices, and countless other primary care facilities. Having a chance for students to spend three months at the end of their program seeing and participating on the front lines of healthcare gives them such a great insight into this career path.

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

Anna Mascara – Student Highlight

Anna Mascara is one of United Career Institute’s ambitious, young, medical assisting students. She started attending classes at the Irwin campus in May of 2020. She tried taking classes at a local community college before enrolling at United, but said she had a horrible experience when she was there and it just was not a good fit. She became certified in Pharmacy, starting working, and then found United Career Institute.

We asked Anna why she chose to study medical assisting and she told us, “There are so many opportunities for medical assistants out in the health field. I definitely want to progress with my education after the Medical Assisting program, but it’s a great start to a happy future.”

Anna chose United Career Institute because she felt comfortable after meeting all of our staff. She told us, “The staff is wonderful and always so helpful. They genuinely enjoy helping you succeed in your classes. Also, the program moves fast!” She truly loves coming to school every day. Her favorite part about attending United is how friendly everyone is. “Everyone is so nice in the morning. I love coming in and being happy from the start! Makes my day better.”

Anna finds her health-related courses interesting. Her favorites so far have been Medical Terminology and Anatomy and Physiology. She said that all of the instructors she has had so far have been very helpful. Anna appreciates how flexible and understanding they have all been with her.

After Anna graduates from United, she is hoping to work as a medical assistant at Excela Health or possibly continuing her education. She has been considering looking into becoming an X-ray technician. Later down the road, she hopes to be successful at her job and financially stable.

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

Jennifer George – Graduate Highlight

Jennifer George had been working as a hospital tech in Latrobe and Westmoreland Hospital through Excela Health for two and a half years when she started her conquest to find the perfect school to further her healthcare education. However, she, like many of our students, did not have any postsecondary education experience and wasn’t sure where to look. Fortunately, Jennifer’s co-workers and former UCI graduates were happy to point her in the right direction. Through the interview and admissions process, Jennifer realized that she had made the right choice. When asked why, she stated “I was so nervous and scared and the staff and instructors made the transition an easy experience. They were awesome.”Jennifer Georgen - Graduate Highlight

When asked why she chose her program of study Jennifer stated, “I knew that it was only one year and that in one year I would be working doing something that I have always loved and this would help me work my way towards entering the LPN program.”

Jennifer stated that the best part of attending UCI was that “the teachers treat you like you are one of them, always with open arms no matter what you are struggling with. They take the time to help you understand the material no matter what it takes.” Jennifer said that her favorite instructor was Kelli Workman. “If I wasn’t confident in myself she was always cheering me on and letting me know that I could do it. I just had to have faith in myself.” Her favorite classes were her clinical courses instructed by Jade Teets.

Jennifer’s short term goal is to return to United for the Practical Nursing program. She has already been accepted into the 2020 fall class. Jennifer is still gainfully employed through Excela Health. When asked where she sees herself in five years, Jennifer said, “I am working as nurse with the help of all the nursing instructors at United Career Institute.” When asked if she would refer a friend, she said, “yes, and I already have. Some of my coworkers are now interested in the school’s Practical Nursing Program. This is by far the greatest school.”

To learn more about United’s Practical Nursing program, request info here!

Kelly Shriver – Medical Program Director Highlight

Meet Kelly Shriver, the medical program director at our United Career Institute Irwin campus! Kelly is in charge of the Medical Assisting, Medical Insurance Billing and Coding, and Phlebotomy programs. Her journey began at the Indiana County Technology Center where, in 2012, she received her diploma in Medical Assisting. After that, she attended Robert Morris University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Health Service Administration.

Before joining the United Career Institute team, Kelly worked for Excela Health for almost seven years. She started there as a Medical Assistant in the Neurology practice, and then moved to a family practice where she stayed for two years. She then worked as a Quality Coordinator for a year. After that, Kelly held the title of OET Specialist and OET Team Lead while working in the Organization, Education, and Training Team. For two years, she taught courses in the evening for the Medical Assisting program at the Indiana County Technology Center’s New Stanton Campus.

Kelly Shriver-Medical Program Director Highlight

Kelly has been with United Career Institute for almost a year now. When asked why she chose to work at United, Kelly responded, “At Excela I was responsible for training new employees and I got the itch to teach again. When I saw the position I knew I had to apply. After interviewing I got to see the true family nature UCI had and that is when I knew it was the place for me.”

Kelly often gets asked what the classes are like by her students. She tells them that it varies depending on the instructor, but each class is unique. She tries to reassure the students that United will be able to provide them the necessary tools to be successful in their classes. Some will be more difficult than others, but they will be able to get through them!

We asked Kelly why she recommends that students consider going into the medical field. She responded, “The medical field is always going to be there. People will always need healthcare. Choosing to enter the medical field is a great career choice because there are so many options available to you.” To be successful, Kelly suggests learning to be compassionate. You will interact with patients of all different kinds of backgrounds and health statuses. She also recommends showing a willingness to learn. Being flexible and able to adapt are useful characteristics.

Kelly is proudest of achieving her dream of earning a Bachelor’s degree. “I was able to get my degree while working two jobs and having a baby. It wasn’t easy to balance everything, but it never stopped me. I was determined to get it.” Her daughter Harper motivates her. “I want her to see that anything she puts her mind to is possible.”

Something interesting that not many people know about Kelly is that she always wanted to be a special education teacher. She knew in the fourth grade that it was something she really wanted. Although she didn’t choose that career path, she did know that she wanted to help people.

To learn more about United’s healthcare programs, request information here!

The Value of Externships

The Value of Externships

A key component of all United Career Institute medical programs is an externship with local employers. It provides a real world aspect to the program and gives students valuable hands-on experience that enhances the skills they learn in the classroom. Externships also provide students a great opportunity to network with other healthcare professionals in their chosen field and get a good idea of the culture of a given employer. Whether it is a 2 week externship in the Phlebotomy program, or a 12 week externship in the Medical Assisting program, we encourage our students to look at their time during externships at a job interview of sorts. Often times, employers use this time as an opportunity to evaluate both clinical and soft skills and how a potential employee may fit in with the company long term.

While UCI students are on their externship, they obtain career-focused experience such as checking vital signs, point of care testing, specimen collection, phlebotomy, and sterilization procedures.

These valuable externships would not be possible without the support of local employers. United Career Institute Irwin is so thankful that our local employers like Excela Health, Allegheny Health Network, UPMC, and Premier Medical Associates have provided the opportunities for our students to complete this on the job training.