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!

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.