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!

Nikki Feltes – Student Highlight

While in high school, United Career Institute Medical Assisting student Nikki Feltes had an idea she may want to pursue a career in healthcare, but didn’t see herself going to a four year college. During her time at Latrobe Area High School, she took advantage of a program available to students through the Eastern Westmoreland Career Technology Center where they could split HS studies with a health occupation program. During that time, Nikki began to see herself making healthcare a career, so when she wasn’t studying for school, she was working part-time at a nursing home. Upon graduation in June 2020, Nikki discovered United Career Institute in Irwin and thought it might be a perfect avenue to continue her healthcare aspirations. After meeting with the admissions team, her decision was made.

When we asked Nikki why she chose the United Career Institute Irwin campus, she said, “I thought it would be a fun and interesting school. Now that I have begun the program, boy was I right!” She has enjoyed learning new things pertaining to the medical field and not only going to class with other high school students in the same position as her, but other adult learners too. Her ultimate motivation for choosing UCI’s Medical Assisting program was sparked by her already having exposure to it from her time at EWCTC. She learned a lot about what medical assistants do from her Health Occupations program, and just knew that it would be something she’d be good at. She feels she’ll always enjoy working in a healthcare setting and hopefully make a difference in people’s lives.

The Medical Assisting program has many engaging and hands-on classes, but we had to ask Nikki what her favorite class has been so far, and she didn’t hesitate to answer; Anatomy & Physiology. “I love learning about the human body and diseases,” said Nikki. We also had to ask Nikki who her favorite instructor has been to this point, and the answer was immediate again; Kelly Clark. Nikki added, “She is so nice and laid back. I’ve always felt like I could tell her anything.” That reaction to Kelly Clark’s teaching is not uncommon. So it came as no surprise that Nikki felt the same way. It’s always good to hear positive feedback like this from our students, and Nikki’s is no exception.

Looking into the future, we asked her what she sees her life like after she graduates. Nikki hopes to be a medical assistant in either a children’s hospital or at a doctor’s office. She has a true passion for caring for children. She will be looking to do her externship in pediatrics locally to quell her passion for working with kids. Five years from now, she hopes to still be working as a medical assistant, and she wants to start a family eventually. Nikki can see herself married, happy in her career, and hopefully buying and moving into a new house.

If your story sounds like Nikki’s, request information here!

Our Proven Process for Success

At United Career Institute, we take pride in providing quality education, training, and preparation for students starting new careers. It’s an honor to ensure that each and every student is empowered to achieve their career goals.

We have created and established a proven process that helps us cater to each student’s journey in their career. Our proven process helps guide students through these six steps: Plan, Equip, Learn, Enhance, Apply, and Succeed.

Continue reading to learn more about each step and request information to begin your path to a new and exciting career!

Step 1: Plan


We understand that everyone is different. We all have our unique circumstances, requirements, and goals. At United, we believe in identifying each student’s needs to create an individual educational plan that works specifically for you.

Once you request more information, you will be introduced to one of our supportive and friendly career advisors. They will work with you to develop a plan that gets you on your way to achieving your financial goals. You can ask any questions you have to learn all about the student experience at United. After your meeting, you will be provided with an opportunity to tour the campus, see classrooms and labs, and chat with your future instructors.

Step 2: Equip

After you’ve met with an admissions advisor, our dedicated enrollment team will ensure you are equipped with everything you need to get started with your classes, including creating a financial plan that helps you accomplish your career goals.

You will have a meeting with a financial aid advisor, who will explain and guide you through the financial aid process. You will get the opportunity to learn about the different financial aid programs you could qualify for, for example, grants** or loans.

We will assist you in completing your enrollment by getting you registered for your classes and helping you plan for other support you may need, like childcare or transportation.

Step 3: Learn

You are now officially enrolled, and it’s time to start your classes! You will gain important career training, learn practical skills, and practice them while in the classroom and with our interactive labs.

Each of our career-focused degree programs offered here at United includes hands-on training. For instance, students in our Medical Assisting program will learn essential skills, such as measuring vital signs, giving injections, conducting lab tests, drawing a patient’s blood.

While you train for a new healthcare career, you will be in a supportive and helpful environment that caters to all students through our WE CARE educational approach. Academic advising, tutoring, and other services are provided to empower you to succeed in your classes.

Step 4: Enhance

As you learn the important practical skills taught in our healthcare training programs, you will also improve your marketability to employers and prepare for professional certification or license exams. The certifications and licenses will differ depending on the career field you choose, as employers have different criteria for different jobs.

For instance, students who complete our Medical Billing and Coding program are prepared for the Certified Billing and Coding Specialist* certification exam, while students who are enrolled in the Practical Nursing program will prepare for the NCLEX-PN° exam.

Improving your skillset with professional certifications shows your value and can give you an edge over those who may not be certified as you apply for healthcare jobs.

Step 5: Apply

Outside of learning in a classroom or lab setting, you will be given the opportunity to apply what you have learned through an externship or a clinical experience. This provides you with real-life experiences, which is a great asset for potential employment. You will practice the new skills you have gained to be successful on the job and after graduation.

While you apply your skills in the real world, you will be presented with opportunities to create positive relationships with potential employers and others in your local healthcare community. This networking will be of great value when you start your job search. For students enrolled in our Practical Nursing program, you will have clinical rotations at local healthcare facilities.

Step 6: Succeed

Once you finish your classes, complete your externship or clinicals, and pass your certification exams, it’s time for you to graduate. You are now equipped to begin your new healthcare career!

At United, we provide career services that help students kick-start their new careers. You can take advantage of many benefits, including resume development, professional interview training, and access to our network of employers.

After graduation, you will receive continued support with brush-up courses and career services to enable your success now and in the future.

If you are looking for a school with a proven process for success in training students to succeed in healthcare careers, then United may be the right place for you! Discover our career-focused degree programs and request information to start your path to a new career today!

**For those who qualify. See catalog for detailed eligibility requirements.

*Certification is contingent upon passing this industry certification exam.

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

Flores and Flores Medical Associates – Externship Highlight

At United Career Institute Mt. Braddock, we pride ourselves on offering our students hands-on, real world experience prior to graduation. An integral component of that is our externship program, which occurs in the last 12 weeks of a student’s program. This exciting part of our curriculum would not be possible without the help of our wonderful industry partners. Read on to learn more about one of these companies!

Flores and Flores Medical Associates is a primary care physician’s office located in Uniontown, PA. They have been in business for over 20 years and specialize in emergency medicine, family medicine, and internal medicine.

United Career Institute students can expect a well-rounded training experiencing if they extern at Flores and Flores. Melissa Stevenson, the site coordinator, said, “We allow United students to get hands-on training on almost every single aspect of working in a doctor’s office – both front and back staff positions.” She continued, “Our staff enjoys teaching and sharing their knowledge with our externs. They also appreciate the help that students provide in return, making our employees’ days go easier.”

United students love the externship portion of their program for many reasons. For starters, the hands-on experience they receive solidifies the skills they have been taught throughout their program and gives them the confidence they need to apply those skills in a real word environment. Another reason the externship is such an exciting experience is the potential for a job offering at the end of it. While not all of our industry partners are in a position to hire after externship, some can be, and who better to hire than somebody you just trained for 12 weeks? Regardless of whether or not an externship ends with a job opportunity, it still serves as a wonderful experience and a resume booster.

 United Career Institute looks forward to continuing our partnership with Flores and Flores as they hope to grow their practice in the next five. Melissa says, “We are looking to add more mid-level providers and staff to support them.”

Melissa’s advice to anybody entering a new educational journey is this: “Learn as much as you can in your classes and definitely take advantage of your time as an extern. Externships are a great way to bridge using what you learn in the class with how to apply it in the real world setting. Ask the staff at your externship questions, so you can learn tips that you can possibly apply in your future job.”

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!

Perryo Medical Center – Externship Highlight

One of the most exciting and rewarding parts of the medical programs at United Career Institute is the externship that students participate in at the end of their program. Externship takes place during the last twelve weeks of a student’s program and provides invaluable educational opportunities. It allows students to apply what they have learned in their medical classes in a real-world, hands-on environment. United Career Institute Mt. Braddock prides itself on the externship partnerships we have forged over the years and we love seeing our students excel in real life medical offices, clinics, and hospitals.

One of these partnerships is with Perryo Medical Center in Perryopolis. Perryo Medical Center is an internal medicine primary care office that has been in operation since 1998. In their 22 years of doing business, they have touched the lives of numerous patients. Their dedicated medical staff works hard to ensure that their patients spend more time with their service provider than waiting in the waiting room. “We help our patients live a healthier life thorough periodic evaluations, implementation of preventive health guidelines, timely referrals to specialists, health education, and wellness options that fit their lifestyle”, they proudly state on their website. Perryo’s mission is to provide their patients with personal attention, unparalleled dedication, and the highest quality health care that they deserve! The team at Perryo Medical Center is happy to report that business is great! Jillian Clay who is the site coordinator for Perryo says, “We are accepting new patients every day. We are constantly growing.” She continued, “Our five-year outlook is promising with continuous patient and organizational growth.”

 United students love their externships because it not only allows them to practice the skills they learned in their programs in a real-world environment, but it also gives them one on one time with employers in their area. Clay says that externships students will “receive a valuable education and hands-on learning at our organization.” However, the student isn’t the only one who benefits from externship partnerships with United Career Institute! The externship site also has a lot to gain. “The students keep us on our toes, up to date with new information, and we always welcome an extra set of hands,” says Clay.

Jillian left us with some advice for students entering medical programs this year. “Treat every patient as if they were your family.”

To learn more about United’s exciting externship program or if you are a medical site interested in partnering with you United, give us a call at 724-437-4600!

The Benefits of Choosing a Small School

You’ve made the important decision to pursue a new career, so now your ready to make that dream a reality. For most professions, you will need some type of career training to qualify for jobs in the field you want to work in.

There are many different options when deciding where to attend school and train for your new career. You could go to a large university, an online college, or a small school. Each one of these options offers a different experience for students.

For many people, choosing to attend a small school can make a huge difference in their success as they complete a career training program and after they graduate. Read on as we share the top benefits of choosing a small school to get the training you need to prepare for an exciting new career.

Small Class Sizes

One of the main benefits of attending a small school for a career training program is the small class sizes. Typically, smaller schools have fewer students in each class, so you won’t be sitting in a 300-person lecture hall just listening to someone talk the whole time.

With smaller classes, you have the opportunity to interact more with instructors and classmates, ask more questions, and participate more in class discussions. In a smaller school, you are a name and not just a number.

If you choose a training program that prepares you to work in a specific career field, such as the healthcare training programs here at United Career Institute, you will have more opportunities to practice hands-on skills in the classroom and in labs. The more you practice the hands-on skills you will use while on the job, the better you will get at them.

Students who choose United to prepare for a new career will also complete an externship, allowing you to apply the skills you have learned in the real world.

Personalized Attention

In addition to small class sizes, another benefit of attending a small school is that you will receive more personalized attention that will help you excel as you complete your program.

At larger universities, when you are just one person in a class of hundreds of people, you don’t get a lot of interaction with instructors, because they simply don’t have the time to connect with every student. For those who choose a small school, one-on-one interaction with your instructors is much more common because they have more time to devote to each student.

Instructors are also more available outside of classroom hours at a small school, giving you even more chances to ask questions and get additional help when needed.

At United Career Institute, we offer a small-school environment with a family atmosphere, ensuring that you receive the personalized attention and instruction necessary to excel in your program and in your career. With our WE CARE approach to education, your instructors truly care and are dedicated to your success.

Student Support

Another great benefit of choosing a small school is that you will receive more help and support as a student while attending your career training classes. At United, we offer academic support like study skills and tutoring services to help you succeed in your healthcare classes.

In addition to academic support, career services are also an advantage of attending a small school. Career prep class, resume and cover letter development, mock interviews, and helping facilitate job interviews are some of the valuable career services offered at United.

For students who choose a small school, there is more of an opportunity to build lasting relationships with instructors and other students, providing you with a strong support system as you complete your program and prepare for a new career. Small schools also give students the opportunity to stay closer to home and have the support of family and friends, which is especially important during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Join the United Family

If you’re looking for a small school to set you up for success in your new healthcare career, then United Career Institute may be the perfect choice for you. We offer a supportive, family environment that provides you with the knowledge, skills, and certifications you need to succeed in your new career.

Explore our healthcare training programs in Practical Nursing, Medical Assisting, and Medical Insurance Billing and Coding. Classes start soon, so request information today to get started!

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.

Premier Medical Associates – Externship Site Partnership

Founded in 1993, Premier’s leadership team led a transition that made the company independent in 2004. Premier’s independence allowed the company to focus on building a stronger model of patient-centered care and expand operations to include critical services and specialties that provide a continuum of care to PMA’s patients. In December 2011, Premier Medical Associates affiliated with Highmark and today is an affiliate of the Allegheny Health Network.
Premier Medical Associates – Externship Site Partnership

Premier Medical Associates is a high performing health organization delivering an advanced care model to the more than 100,000 patients in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. Recognized as a national leader in healthcare transformation, Premier is headed by a nationally awarded physician and leadership team, representing over 400 employees. Premier delivers a higher quality of care to its communities and patients through a resolute commitment to prevention, immunization, whole-body health, and patient-centered care.

Premier Medical Associates, an affiliate of the Allegheny Health Network, is the largest multi-specialty physician practice in the Greater Pittsburgh area with 100 providers, 24 medical services and specialties delivering care in 10 convenient locations.

Before Premier focuses on delivering the highest quality care to our patients, we focus on the people delivering that care. Their wellbeing is critical to providing better care. We make considerable investments of time, training and other resources to cultivate a thriving employee culture.

As an extern, students will be exposed to a team-based, healthy working environment.  Employees at Premier work efficiently and effectively to deliver care to our patients.  Students will receive the tools and training they need to have a productive and educational learning experience at Premier and will be involved in participating in the day to day operations of the practice.  We are committed to providing a positive and valuable experience to all students.

Premier strongly believes that partnerships are critical to the success of the organization.  We are excited to partner and align goals with United Career Institute.  We believe that we have an excellent opportunity to teach and develop students in the healthcare industry, and we are confident that our efforts will have a positive impact on the success of our recruitment strategies.

Premier gives the following advice to students entering college in 2020-2021; focus on the direction of your education on industries and jobs that bring joy and gratitude to your life.  It is so important to love and be excited about what you do every day.