Erin Messer – Faculty Highlight

Erin Messer is an adjunct instructor at United Career Institute Irwin. She has an MBA, a Doctorate in Pharmacy, and is currently earning her Doctorate in Education. She started her career working in research & development for a pharmaceutical company and eventually moved into a medical affairs role. Erin has also worked in long-term care and community pharmacy.
Erin Messer-Faculty Highlight

Erin chose to work at United Career Institute because she likes our take on education. She said, “I loved the idea of a local school that offered programs to students to advance their education and career, in a not so traditional way.” She recommends the medical field to students because of the opportunities available. There are always ways to advance your career in this field. “Take it from me, I started in research, moved to clinical practice, and now I’m teaching!”

One thing that motivates Erin is getting to know her students and seeing them succeed. She gets many questions from her students about how they will use certain medications and treatments in their fields. When teaching, she tries to incorporate examples of how the students will be using the materials in their future. Erin also reminds students of the characteristics that will help them stand out when looking for employment. Showing sympathy and understanding will go a long way in the medical field. Erin said, “Although ‘beside manor’ and listening skills are not traditionally taught in school, these attributes make a big difference to patients.”

When she is not busy teaching classes for three different institutions, Erin spends her time playing music. She can read music and plays four instruments! Not many people may know this, but Erin has been skydiving and can also crochet afghans!

To learn more about United’s medical classes, request information here!

Martina Mullen – Student Highlight

Martina Mullen has been a student at United Career Institute’s Irwin campus since January 2020. She is currently enrolled in the Medical Assisting program. She chose Medical Assisting because she knew she wanted to go into the medical field, but wasn’t sure which direction to start in. On top of nearly perfect attendance since the beginning, Martina has also made the school’s President’s list by holding a 4.0 GPA for the first term of her program.

Martina Mullen - Student Highlight

Martina tried a different post-secondary school before, but it just wasn’t for her. She felt like her professor made the class rushed and that it was just a waste of her own time and money. “My favorite part about attending United would be the class schedule and how each class is set up. I don’t feel rushed or overwhelmed with work,” said Martina.

Just like many of our other students, Martina likes the smaller class sizes. “I chose United because I loved that it was small and that I knew if I needed it, I could get one on one help. I also love how everyone is so welcoming and supportive.” Her favorite instructor so far has been Kelly Shriver. She likes that Kelly pushes her to do her best and tries to make everything positive! Martina said, “I like how she doesn’t look at herself as an instructor. She also talks to us about our personal lives.” Her favorite class so far has been Student Success Strategies. She liked that the class helped the students open up and get to know one another. It also helped her to realize the habits she has, good and bad, for both school and life.

Eventually, Martina wants to go to school for Nursing. After she graduates, she hopes to work at either Children’s Hospital or in a doctor’s office. Down the road she hopes to have her student loans paid off, have her own place, and happy with whatever job she gets. She just really wants to help people!

To learn more about United’s medical classes and student services, request information here!

Tillie Lishego – Student Highlight

United Career Institute Irwin would like to introduce one of our medical assisting students, Tillie Lishego! After discussing the different courses with her Admissions Advisor, Lynda Mayes, Tillie knew medical assisting was the program she wanted to pursue. Tillie Lishego-Student HighlightBecause she has never attended a post secondary school before, she was asked why she chose United Career Institute. “It seemed like a school I would like. It is small and personal with a positive environment that seemed like it would support me being able to learn well. I felt it was a place I would be able to thrive in.” Tillie is currently working at a local personal care home while also going to school full time.

Tillie’s favorite class so far has been Anatomy & Physiology 101. To her surprise, she thought it was an interesting course and she enjoyed learning how the body works. When asked who her favorite instructor is, she couldn’t pick one. She said that she never really liked school, but because of United’s instructors and staff, she loves it now! “The fact is, that no matter what the issue is, all of the staff and students are there to help each other. It is like one big family here and you can really just feel at home.”

Tillie is still looking into her post graduation options. She is considering either a doctor’s office or hospital. She wants to research the different positions offered at multiple locations. Later down the road she plans to have a career, not just a job. She hopes to be making more money and wants to get a house of her own. “I want to have a job I am proud of, and United Career is providing me an opportunity to do just that!”

Wendi Rost – Student Highlight

“I wanted to go for Medical Assisting when I was just out of high school. However, I was living with my fiancé at the time and could not afford the class. When I decided to go back and went for coding, I didn’t have faith in my skills or brains to even think I could do the assisting part because of the clinicals. I was and still am terrified of that part. However I thought it’s now or never and if I don’t try, I won’t know.” We would like to introduce Wendi Rost, a medical assisting student attending our Irwin campus.Wendi Rose - Student Highlight

Before enrolling at United in January, Wendi was a stay at home mom. She had previously attended other post secondary schools for Esthetics and Medical Billing and Coding. She had some great experiences, but one thing she did not like about Medical Billing and Coding was that a majority of her classes were online. Wendi chose the United Career Institute because of the Irwin location and its hands-on training. “I’m old school. I like a classroom.”

When asked what her favorite part of going to school at United Career Institute is, Wendi responded by saying, “Oh I absolutely love going to United Career. Currently, we are smaller, but the students are very mature for their ages. I am so happy to be around people who take this seriously and know when to have fun. We are like a family, instructors, and all. We laugh, cry, and learn without pressure.”

Wendi’s favorite class so far has been Medical Terminology. She feels like she is learning to talk professionally in the medical field. When asked who her favorite instructor is, Wendi replied, “Kelly, Erin, and Arnold are all my favorites so far. I can’t say that there is an absolute favorite. They all have different teaching styles. However they are always there to talk to, or ask for help if you’re not understanding or to give you a pep talk if you’re feeling overwhelmed.”

After graduating from the Medical Assisting program, Wendi has a few different directions in medical field that she may want to pursue. “I have three fields that interest me, and that’s because I like helping people with their problems or watching them succeed.  Dermatology, since my field of esthetics has been a passion. Gynecology because ever since I was young, I always wanted to be a female doctor since, at the time there weren’t many, and I personally prefer a female.  Finally, Bariatric. This is one I like to see the results and hopefully get motivation for myself.”

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

The Value of Externships

The Value of Externships

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

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

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

How to Create SMART Career Goals

We all have goals that we want to accomplish in life and in our careers. Maybe you aren’t fulfilled in your current job and want a more rewarding career or maybe your goal is to be the first person in your family to graduate from a training program.

Regardless of what you want to achieve, setting SMART career goals can get you there! The most effective goals follow these five guidelines: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

Using these criteria to create your SMART career goals gives you a higher chance of success. How exactly do you create SMART career goals? Keep reading as we share with you exactly how!

Specific

First, SMART career goals must be specific, so that you know exactly what to do in order to reach them. Here is a great example of a specific goal: I want to graduate from a Medical Assisting program in Westmoreland County within 18 months in order to begin a more rewarding career. This is a specific goal because it answers the following questions:

Now that you have answered these questions and created a specific goal, you know exactly what to do to achieve the goal.

Measurable

Next, you need to make sure your SMART career goals are measurable. Creating measurable goals ensures that you can track the progress you make toward your goals. As you take steps to reach your goals, you will be able to tell if you’re on track to meet them or if there is something you need to change.

Separating your larger goal into smaller chunks is the best way to do this. With the goal of completing a medical assisting program to start a more rewarding career, you could create milestones along the way for each class that is part of the program. This way, you are one step closer to your goal for each class you complete.

Attainable

As you create your SMART career goals, it’s essential to create ones that are attainable, because it’s hard to stay motivated to work toward a goal that’s not actually achievable. An example of an unattainable goal would be going to Mars next month. While this sounds like a great goal, it’s not actually attainable, because the technology to go to Mars doesn’t yet exist. Setting super high goals can seem like a good idea, but it can actually be demotivating, because you know you can’t accomplish them anyway.

In our medical assisting goal example, some things you should consider to ensure the goal is attainable for you is if can you commit the time required for the program, do you have the support system needed, and do you have any prerequisites that are required.

Relevant

The next thing you must do is ensure your SMART career goals are relevant to you. Here are some questions you should ask about each specific goal: Is this something you really want to achieve? Do you care enough to put in the work? Does this goal align with your other goals? Does this goal fit into your long-term plans?

For example, our medical assisting goal is relevant because it will help reach your dream of starting a more rewarding career. By achieving this goal, you’re working toward a long-term goal of being in a career that brings you more meaning and fulfillment.

Timely

Last, you need to ensure that your SMART career goals are timely. Creating a timely goal means that it has a time frame that you will complete the goal within. If you create a goal with no deadline, there is no sense of urgency to work toward the goal.

Create a deadline to reach the goal, but also create smaller deadlines for the milestones along the way. For example, with our medical assisting goal, you can create a deadline for taking each class, finishing your externship, and passing certification tests.

Achieve Your Goals with United

Now that you’ve created your SMART career goals, you’re ready to achieve your professional dreams! If you want to work in healthcare, helping your community by providing excellent patient care, United Career Institute has the fast track programs to help you get there.

Learn more and request information about our Practical Nursing, Medical Assisting, Medical Office Administration, and Phlebotomy programs to get started today!

Gabriella Sotak – Student Highlight

“We work so well together and she’s such a great support system for me…a genuinely good person with a big heart!” That is how Medical Assisting student Amanda Cluss describes her classmate and friend, Gabriella Sotak. Gabriella Sotak - Student HighlightGabby was enrolled in college at CCAC when she heard about United Career Institute opening in Irwin. She wasn’t getting everything she wanted from her education so she called the school and made an appointment to come in. Immediately after speaking with Lynda in admissions, she knew this was where she was meant to be.  “Lynda was so understanding and encouraging, really made me feel like I belonged here.” There were some aspects of a larger community college Gabby liked, but most of what she saw at UCI was what she needed; smaller classes, personalized attention and tutoring, and a family atmosphere. Gabby decided that although she didn’t have aspirations of being a nurse, she definitely wanted to work in healthcare, and United Career’s Medical Assisting program provided that start. She sees herself working in a private doctor’s office someday, in general practice.

When we asked Gabby what her favorite thing about the school was, she didn’t hesitate a bit. “I love my classmates and the girls are all so helpful. They make you feel like you’re part of the family from day 1. I also love the staff! Kelly, Bianca, and Arnold are wonderful and I talk to them or Lynda about any issues or problems I might be having, educational or personal.” She loves the way Kelly teaches Med Term 1, her favorite class so far, because she explains the subject matter in detail and makes sure you understand how it applies. When asked where she wants to be in 5 years she was quick to answer. “Out of my parent’s house and into my stable career. I love my parents deeply but I’m ready to start the next chapter.”

When asked if she would recommend United to somebody else, Gaby said, “Absolutely! The whole staff there are so helpful in every way, and they truly care about me as a student, but more importantly as a person.“

To learn more about United Career Institute’s family atmosphere and fast track training, click here!

Lynda Mayes – Staff Highlight

“My favorite part of working for United Career is being a part of a group that makes you feel like family. That includes both the staff and the students!” –Lynda Mayes

Lynda Mayes - Staff Highlight

Lynda Mayes is the Admissions Advisor at United Career Institute in Irwin. As an Admissions Advisor, Lynda helps potential students find their right education path. A large part of her job involves guiding students through any life obstacles they may have. It’s not uncommon to walk by her office and see her talking with her current students. Whether its school related or personal, Lynda always makes a large effort to help the student keep their eye on the prize!

Lynda has a Bachelor of Science in Administrative Management from Robert Morris University. After graduating she started working at the Westmoreland County Prison. She worked there for three years as a Records Clerk and then moved on to work at the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County (MAWC). Lynda worked there for nineteen and a half years, working her way up from a Collections Clerk all the way up to a Field Service Super Intendant. During that time, she was managing over sixty-five employees, and was able to complete her Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership at Robert Morris University.

Lynda is motivated by her mother. She says her mother has always encouraged and supported her in her decisions. “Because of her support I want to show the same love and respect towards her by doing the best that I can do.” She is most proud of her family, not only because of their ability to deal with difficult times, but because they always find a way to support each other while doing it.

Lynda’s long term career goals include getting her Ph.D. She would like to get involved in teaching leadership coaching to college students and adults. “It’s important for anyone going into a career to develop leadership and skills to be successful.”

 

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.

Kelly Clark – Faculty Highlight

We’d like for you to take a minute and meet one of our great employees at United Career Institute Irwin campus. Kelly Clark is a Financial Aid Advisor for United Career Institute. She has her associate degree in clinical administration/medical assisting. She started off working at a urology clinic in Philadelphia and then moved back to the Pittsburgh area and worked in an OB-GYN office. Seven years later she went to California University of Pennsylvania and received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Secondary English Education. After a few years of substitute teaching, Kelly moved into the banking field. She worked in banking for 14 years and then started her career with United Career Institute in 2019.

Kelly Clark-Faculty Highlight

Kelly knew after interviewing with Arnold, the Campus President, that she wanted to be a part of the United Career Institute team. Kelly said, “He was easy to talk to and very funny. I felt comfortable and knew that we would work well together.”

Kelly says one of her favorite things about working for United Career Institute is seeing the smiles on students faces after their financial aid appointment. Kelly likes the feeling of helping students get one step closer to reaching their educational goals. “Helping others motivates me because I want to see changes in the student’s lives so they can reach their goals.”

Kelly is most proud of her five children! She is excited to see her children develop positive morals and values. They all focus on their academics first and they love the activities they choose to participate in. She is enjoying watching them grow into caring and respectable young adults.

Kelly’s long term career goals are to get her master’s degree. “I would like to pursue a master’s degree in higher education and continue working in a career at United that best fits that education.”

Something interesting that most people don’t know about Kelly is that she has always wanted to be a wedding planner. She has been in eleven weddings!

Outside of work, you can catch her at her oldest daughter’s many twirling competitions, her second daughter’s gymnastic meets, watching her third daughter cheer at football and basketball games, her son’s wrestling matches, and her youngest son’s travel baseball games. Go Vipers! She also loves going to Penguin hockey games with her husband Todd.