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!

What Is the Difference Between a MA and LPN?

Many people dream of starting a career in the healthcare industry, and maybe you are one of them. The healthcare field is continuing to grow, and the different types of available jobs are also increasing. When you work in healthcare, you have the chance to make a difference in people’s lives by helping them when they need it most.
With so many different opportunities to starting your healthcare career, it can be challenging to figure it all out. To help you do this, we’re explaining the difference between a medical assistant and a licensed practical nurse. Keep reading to learn more about these healthcare career options!

Career Outlook

Medical assistants have a promising career outlook here in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, medical assistants have a projected growth rate of 19% from 2019 to 2029. This is very high compared to the average growth rate of 4% for all other occupations. This means that employers will need even more qualified and skilled medical assistants in the future to fill open positions.

The BLS estimates the projected growth rate for licensed practical nurses will be 9% for 2019 to 2029. This is also more than the 4% growth rate for all occupations, but not as high as the growth rate for medical assistants. This means that employers will also need skilled and well-trained licensed practical nurses at a higher rate in the future.

Skills Needed

Medical assistants complete both clinical and administrative tasks while on the job, focusing on assessing patients and helping with care and treatment. They need to learn various skills, including performing lab tests, practicing phlebotomy, taking vital signs, assisting with minor surgeries, and performing EKGs.

For those who choose to become a licensed practical nurse, the focus is more on providing basic medical care while working under the supervision of doctors and registered nurses. Skills a licensed practical nurse needs include performing IV therapy, caring for wounds, assisting patients with daily activities, and monitoring medical equipment.

At United, our Practical Nursing program gives students the opportunity to gain valuable experience practicing their skills as they complete their clinicals while in the program. With this valuable hands-on experience, Practical Nursing students are ready for their careers in just one year.

Training Required

To start a career as a medical assistant, you will need to prepare for this specific job via specialized training. Most medical assisting programs are comprised of both classroom instruction and hands-on skills and are completed in under two years. It is also beneficial to choose a Medical Assistant Degree program that will prepare you for professional certifications, as many of today’s healthcare employers prefer certified candidates.

For example, students enrolled in our Medical Assisting program at United learn valuable knowledge in the classroom and practice their hands-on skills in labs and their externship. Additionally, students prepare for professional healthcare certifications, including National Certified Clinical Medical Assistant*, Certified EKG Technician**, and Certified Phlebotomy Technician**.

To become a licensed practical nurse, students are required to complete a state-approved program that can usually be completed in one year. Students are trained in areas like nursing, pharmacology, and biology. After graduating from a practical nursing program, students must take the NCLEX-PN° exam and pass to be employed as a licensed practical nurse in their state.

Work Environment

According to BLS data, 57% of medical assistants work in a physician’s office, and 15% work in hospitals. The remainder of medical assistants works in outpatient care centers and at chiropractors. Most medical assisting positions are full-time with a 40 -hour workweek. Those who choose to work in healthcare facilities that are open all the time, like hospitals, for example, may be required to work evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Licensed practical nurses are more likely to work in nursing and residential care facilities, with 38% working there, 15% working in hospitals, 13% in physicians’ offices, 13% in-home healthcare services, and 6% in government, according to BLS data. LPNs are required to be on their feet for a lot of the workday, and they need the ability to lift patients who cannot care for themselves. Due to the type of healthcare facilities they work in, many practical nurses must work nights, weekends, and holidays.

Now that you have a good understanding of the difference between medical assistants and licensed practical nurses, you can decide on the best way to start your healthcare career!

Explore our healthcare training programs in Medical Assisting, Medical Billing and Coding, and Practical Nursing today. Request information now to start your dream healthcare career!

 

°Passing the NCLEX – PN exam is required to become a Practical Nurse.

*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.

 

The Emerging Trend of Skills-Based Learning

According to a LinkedIn research study, the upward trend of skills-based hiring continues to grow in the United States, which has led to another emerging trend of skills-based learning. The benefits of skills-based learning should not be discounted, especially since 77% of hiring professionals in the LinkedIn study stated that they are hiring candidates based on their skills and competencies.

This week at United, we’re sharing all about skills-based learning and the ways you can benefit from it. Read on to find out all about it!

What Is Skills-Based Learning?

Skills-based learning teaches students new concepts and valuable knowledge in the classroom that can then be applied to real-life scenarios. By emphasizing skills and hands-on training, students learn to use the competencies they’ve learned in various situations like externships, hands-on practice, and interactive labs, which can benefit them in their careers.

Why So Much Focus on Skills?

Hiring candidates who already possess the skills required to do the job is more cost-effective for employers, saving them money and time because they don’t have to train new employees. When employers hire qualified candidates who are already trained, they can perform their specific skills from the very first day.

With the ever-increasing advancement of technology, skills-based learning allows individuals to stay updated regarding best practices, trends, and the technology itself in their area of expertise. One example is the nursing field. Nurses must have the latest skills and know-how to apply them in order to efficiently and safely care for their patients.

The skills required for various job markets are always changing. Learning and practicing hands-on skills in the classroom helps bridge the gap between what employers need and the skills students will have when they graduate.

What Are the Benefits of This?

Skills-based learning will benefit students by enabling them to take only the classes needed for their chosen field of study. This allows you to complete your degree in less time because you don’t have to spend years taking general education classes.

Additionally, many students are better suited for learning in a hands-on environment instead of just listening to a lecturer talk. This enables students to learn new skills faster and practice their critical thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving skills.

At United, our degree and diploma programs are designed to meet the needs of local employers, so students in our career training classes are prepared for professional, skills-based certifications that are career-specific. As part of their program, students also complete an externship, allowing them to apply the skills they’ve learned in real-life situations. Having the right skills and an externship helps students gain important work experience and is beneficial in helping them stand out when they enter the job market.

How Do You Choose the Right Program?

With so many options available, choosing the right school or training program that offers great skills-based learning can be confusing. United Career Institute makes it easy to find a program that teaches the skills you’ll need for the career you want to pursue. For example, if you’re interested in healthcare and would like to work as a medical assistant, then you’ll need a program that specializes in the skills that medical assistants utilize every day, including performing lab tests, taking vital signs, and drawing blood.

You should also choose a program that includes practical ways to practice your skills while gaining valuable experience, such as interactive labs, hands-on training, an externship experience, and certification or license preparation, which are included in our degree programs here at United.

Are you ready to enroll in a career training program that gives you the hands-on experience and skills-based learning you need to succeed? We are here to help you get started!

Discover our fast-track healthcare training programs in Medical Assisting, Medical Billing and Coding, and Practical Nursing today! Contact us now to start your journey to a great career!

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!

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.

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!

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!

Southwestern Gastrointestinal Specialists – Externship Highlight

United Career Institute is excited to introduce you to one of our externship sites, Southwestern Gastrointestinal Specialists (SWGI).

Southwestern Gastrointestinal Specialists has been in business for 29 years and specializes in helping their patients lose weight. They are a four physician, six physician’s assistant practice, and their goal is to help their patients understand how and why they gain weight so that they can lose it and keep it off. Their services include a structured plan and guidance and support from a personal weight loss coach.

SWGI is happy to share that the climate for their business is good right now. “We are a very busy practice,” says externship site coordinator, Toni Shearer.

The value that United Career Institute students get from an externship with SWGI Specialists is simple, and the thing that all students are looking for from an externship site…hands-on experience.

The United Career Institute externship program doesn’t just offer value to United students; it is also beneficial for the employer partner. “Having students from United creates a good relationship with the school and the community, which helps with recruitment in the future. We have hired several of the students who have externed with us,” says Shearer.

We are happy to report that Shearer believes the five-year business outlook for SWGI Specialists to be very positive, and United is excited to continue building a relationship with this dynamic employer.

Shearer has some excellent advice for students looking to further their education. She says, “Continuing education is always a big decision. It is not the right path for everyone, but if you have the opportunity to further your education, no matter what field you choose, do it. Knowledge is power!”

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 SWGI Specialists, request information here!

The Benefits of Completing an Externship in Your Degree

Kudos to you for deciding to continue your education and earn a degree! It’s now time to decide what school and program will be the best option for you and your goals.

One of the aspects you may want to think about is whether there’s an externship opportunity that you can do while you earn your degree. An externship allows you to work in real-world environments while still in school and is beneficial for you and your career path. Continue reading to discover the top benefits of completing an externship!

Gain Valuable Experience

One of the main benefits of doing an externship while in school is that you can get hands-on, real-life experience in your selected career path. Learning the critical knowledge required to start your career is great; however, gaining hands-on experience allows you to take it to the next level and gives you an advantage as you apply for jobs. If an employer is considering two candidates, and one has real-world experience, and the other does not, they will most likely select the person who has experience.

Choosing a program that includes an externship and getting real-life experience are great resume builders. Add your externship experience, any tasks you performed, and other skills you developed while completing your externship to your resume.

During the time you are attending school and completing your externship, you can start to consider what types of organizations you want to work for after you graduate. Perhaps you wanted to work in a hospital setting, but then you realized that you would prefer a doctor’s office. Or maybe you thought you wanted to work for a public firm, but now you realize a nonprofit would be better for you. Having on-the-job experience at your externship helps you better understand the work environment, so you can decide which type of company suits your needs.

Develop Your Skills

Practicing the hands-on skills you learned in classroom and lab settings is another great benefit of completing an externship. Employing the knowledge you’ve gained in a real-life work environment can set you up for continued career success. The more work experience you get, the better you will be at your job, as the additional practice helps to upgrade your skills.

During your externship, you will have the opportunity to improve your soft skills, including your communication skills, ability to work with a team, time management skills, and much more. Soft skills are equally as important as the hard skills you acquire for your job. Many employers review candidates for soft skills while completing interviews. Additionally, soft skills can help make you more confident in yourself and your abilities, helping you perform better in your career.

Make Professional Connections

Another benefit of choosing a degree program with an externship is that you can begin creating your professional network while you’re in school. Creating positive relationships with people at your externship and with prospective employers can help you build a network that will be of great value when the time comes to submit job applications.

Once you complete an externship and create a professional network, you will have a head start with local organizations and prospective employers. If you have a great experience with your externship and you would like to work for that company, make them aware and be on the lookout for any job opportunities that come along.

An externship provides you with the opportunity to locate a mentor that could assist you on your career path. Perhaps there is someone that could help by offering you guidance and advice along the way that would be a great mentor. Furthermore, you can receive feedback from professionals in the field to help improve your skillset. You can also ask people you worked with during your externship to provide you with references and recommendations when the time comes for you to submit job applications.

Get Started With United

Are you ready to get on the fast-track to a great healthcare career? At United, we have exciting programs that work for you with externships, caring instructors, career services, and student support. Discover our healthcare degree programs and contact us now to get started today!

Mackenzie Stefanini – Graduate Highlight

United Career Institute Mt. Braddock is thrilled to introduce one of our newest graduates, Mackenzie Stefanini. Mackenzie graduated from United’s Medical Assisting program this month and is already working in the field!

Mackenzie began her journey at United right after high school! She attended a presentation in one of her classes that sparked her interest, and went for an interview afterward and loved it!

Mackenzie has always known she wanted to be in the medical field. However, she knew she needed a school where she could get her foot in the door of the medical field that also provided one on one time with instructors in a small school atmosphere. She said, “I chose the MA program so that I could get my foot in the door and be sure that this was the career I wanted and because I have always wanted to do something in the medical field.” Mackenzie continued,  “I chose United because it was hands-on experience and was a small building with not a lot of people at one time, allowing more one-on-one time with teachers for any questions you might have had.” United’s small class sizes allow plenty of time for one on one help if students need it!

The familial atmosphere was Mackenzie’s favorite part of attending United. “My favorite part was how friendly and family-oriented the building was. They made you feel at home while you were there,” she said. While the family-like atmosphere was Mackenzie’s favorite part of attending United, Kelli, United’s Allied Health Program Coordinator, was her favorite instructor. She said, “I would say my favorite teacher was Kelli. She was the teacher for my clinical classes, and I loved my clinical classes. She always told stories to help remember things.”

One of the most exciting parts of a student’s experience at United Career Institute is the externship they get to participate in their last 12 weeks of the program. This externship allows students to get real-world experience in medical settings. This experience can sometimes lead to job opportunities, and that is the case with Mackenzie! She said, “I am currently working from my extern because they hired me at Conn Family Medicine.”

Mackenzie has big plans for her life in the next five years, both professionally and personally! “I would like to be living in my own house, and starting a family, possibly even go back to United for their LPN program.” Many United students who graduate from the Medical Assisting program go on to the Practical Nursing program because the MA program offers an excellent base to build on.

Mackenzie says she would absolutely refer a friend to United because of the friendly environment and staff! “I would definitely refer somebody to United because of how friendly the environment is. Also, because of how great the teachers are, and they love what they do. I loved the hands-on experience that I also got being at the school.”

If your story sounds similar to Mackenzie’s, request information here!