Shannon McClain – Student Highlight

Like many students before her, Shannon McClain attended a local community college before coming to United Career Institute. When asked what made United different than her previous school, Shannon said, “the staff at UCI are friendly and, all the classes are relevant.” United has six-week modules, this allows classes to go by quickly while ensuring that all the information they learn applies to the workplace.

When asked why she chose medical assisting, Shannon said, “I have a passion for helping others.” Her mom is also a medical assistant and an alumna of our Mount Braddock campus, so Shannon has a good understanding of the profession. 

Shannon’s favorite class in the program has been Anatomy and Physiology because she, “loves learning the body and body systems.” Anatomy and Physiology provide United students with a great understanding of how the body works and various diseases and disorders they will see while working as a medical assistant.

Five years from now, Shannon sees herself as a graduate of United Career Institute, owning her own home, working in a cancer center, and “striving to be the best she can be at 25!”

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

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!

Katelyn Burgman – Student Highlight

Before attending United Career Institute’s Medical Assisting program, Katelyn Burgman, like many before her, attended a local community college to pursue a radiology technician program. Katelyn did not have an enjoyable experience and quickly realized that she wanted to go into a field doing something she “actually enjoyed instead of just settling for a job,” and she landed at United Career Institute.

When asked why she chose United, Katelyn quickly responded, “I want to be a nurse, but I chose to get my MA first so I can have options and more knowledge of the medical field.”  Katelyn’s favorite part of attending United Career Institute is that the presented material isn’t overwhelming, and assistance is available.  Her favorite classes so far have been her three clinical courses because they provide a hands-on experience, and Katelyn is a hands-on learner.

When it comes to her favorite instructor, Katelyn couldn’t choose a specific one. “All of my instructors have shown caring and understanding, and I like them all in different ways.” This comes as no surprise, as the Medical Assisting program staff truly puts the student first, as does anyone at United.

Upon completion of her externship, Katelyn doesn’t have a particular specialty in mind but knows with the options available to medical assistant graduates; the possibilities are plentiful. After graduation, Katelyn sees herself being happy with the path she chose and having her life on track. We can’t wait to see what successes Katelyn has in her future as a medical assistant!

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.

Aleesha Guidos – Student Highlight

Aleesha Guidos is one of United Career Institute’s medical assisting students. She enrolled at the Irwin campus in the summer of 2020. She graduated from Latrobe High School and attended EWCTC while working as a CNA. She chose the Medical Assisting program because she thought it would be a good stepping stone into the medical field. United Career Institute was a good fit because she liked the idea of our small classes and felt that we had a positive atmosphere.

So far, her favorite instructor has been Kelly Shriver. Aleesha said, “She is understanding and always willing to help in any way she can.” She feels that the staff is very welcoming, and her favorite class so far has been Anatomy and Physiology. “I liked that class because I was able to learn about how each and every body system works,” she said.

After Aleesha graduates, she hopes to work as a medical assistant. Possibly in a pediatrician’s office! Later down the road, she hopes to have her BSN and work at a children’s hospital. We wish you all the luck, Aleesha!!

If you want to get into the medical field and like the idea of small classes like Aleesha, request information here and learn more today!

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!

Victoria Moore – Student Highlight

United Career Institute is thrilled to introduce you to our November Student of the Month, Victoria Moore!

Victoria came to United from high school, where she was involved in many extracurricular activities. “I was involved in a handful of activities such as Marching Band, Medical Interest Club (MICSADD), Interact Club, and my school’s student committee (R.O.A.R.),” Victoria said. Victoria’s love for being hands-on is part of the reason she chose to attend United Career Institute in the first place. She said, “I chose United because of the opportunities it presented me. I am able to receive hands-on learning in an accelerated environment that offers the support I need for success.”

Victoria chose to enroll in United’s Medical Assisting program because she has long term plans for a career in the medical field. In addition to becoming a medical assistant, Victoria hopes to one day become a registered nurse. “I chose the MA program as a stepping stone. I am able to receive extra certifications as a phlebotomist and EKG tech. I felt like this was a good place to start my career journey,” she said. Many United students who choose to enroll in the Medical Assisting program do so for the same reason Victoria did. It is an excellent way to prepare for a more vigorous nursing program. United Career Institute also offers graduates of our Medical Assisting program a Nursing Pathway Grant to help continue their educational journey into nursing.

In addition to the hands-on experience she is gaining, Victoria’s favorite part of attending United is the supportive, family-like atmosphere. “We are all a family who supports one another! We celebrate our differences, strengths, and weaknesses.” While her favorite part of attending United Career Institute is the family-like atmosphere, Victoria’s favorite class is Medical Terminology. She said, “My favorite class so far is Medical Terminology! I am very good at memorization, so I excel in that class.”

Victoria has big dreams of becoming a nurse and she also knows which type of environment she would like to one day work in! “In five years, I want to have, or start, my RN. I would like to have a secure job before I settle down. I would love to work in a pediatric setting, like a doctor’s office,” she said.

Victoria is enjoying her experience at United so much that she would even refer friends here! “I feel like this school has it all. I would say that no other school will make you as prepared to achieve your dreams like United.”

If your story sounds similar to Victoria’s or if you have big dreams of a career in the medical field, request information here!

Kaitlyn Monosky – Graduate Highlight

Kaitlyn Monosky is a medical assisting graduate of United Career Institute Mt. Braddock. She chose United because it came highly recommended, and the small classes were similar to the class sizes she had in high school. “I knew of a few people that went to the school and highly recommended it to me. I come from a small town where my high school classes were extremely small, and I felt like because United was a smaller school, it would be the right fit for me.”

Prior to attending United Career Institute, Kaitlyn had attempted another post-secondary institution, but did not have a good experience. “I was not really a fan of the school, I did not enjoy the environment. I felt rushed every day by teachers and just trying to make it to class on time. I ended up leaving because I felt like college just was not right for me”, she said. After her first attempt at school, Kaitlyn decided to focus on work and being a mom. She worked as a waitress at The Kitchen on Main in Ligonier while also balancing being a full-time mom. “Honestly, I was just trying to figure out what I really wanted to do with the rest of my life.”

After Kaitlyn decided she wanted to go back to school, she had to decide what she wanted to study. She had an interest in the medical field, so she decided to pursue United’s Medical Assisting program. “I chose the Medical Assistant program because I felt like it would be a good start for me and help me get my foot in the door.” United students often choose our Medical Assisting program because it offers a good launching point into the medical field. Students who graduate from our Medical Assisting program often go on to study nursing in United’s Practical Nursing program.

Kaitlyn says that her favorite part of attending United was the education she got and the people she met. “My favorite part of attending United was all the friendships and knowledge I gained while being there.” Some of the people who contributed to her positive experience here include her instructors! “I loved all my teachers. They were always so helpful and kind. All of my instructors just wanted each of their students to do the best they can and to just succeed in life. Each one of them gave me the boost of confidence I needed to push through when I thought I couldn’t. Out of all the classes I had, psychology has got to be my favorite class. I’ve always had an interest in the way the brain worked.”

Kaitlyn has some big plans for herself now that she has graduated from United Career Institute. In the next few years, she hopes to be back in school and studying to be a registered nurse. In her personal life, she hopes to own a home, be married, and have another child.

Kaitlyn really enjoyed her time at United and hopes to see others have the same experience! “I would absolutely refer anyone to United to get their degree. This school has shown me that as long as you set your mind to it, you can accomplish anything. The staff is extremely amazing. They care for each and every one of the students that go there. I have never been to a school where all they want you to do is succeed and do the best you can. If it was not for the staff of the United Career Institute, I would still be waiting tables and trying to figure out my life still. Thanks to this school, I never have to second guess what my capabilities are.”

If your story sounds similar to Kailyn’s, check out our medical programs here!

 

Karen Mayle – Student Highlight

Karen Mayle is a medical assisting student at United Career Institute. This is the first post-secondary school she’s attended. Before she decided to come back to school at United, Karen was working at a restaurant and had been laid off due to circumstances of Covid-19.

Karen chose United Career Institute as her school because she has a daughter who also attends school here. While talking to her daughter about going back to school for healthcare, she told her about what United Career Institute has to offer. She gave Karen the contact information for Kathy Coddington, who works in admissions, and Karen started down the enrollment path.

Karen is a student in the Medical Assisting program, and when asked why she chose this field, she said, “I have always found myself falling back into the healthcare field. I considered the skills I already had in the healthcare field and put that together with the fact that I like working with computers and working with people.” So, being an MA was a “no-brainer” for Karen.

When asked who her favorite teacher is, she couldn’t choose just one. She says, “Rachel, and the way she always makes sure everyone is included. Jade, with her teaching techniques and offerings of tutoring all the time. Kelli is ‘straight to the point’ with things and tells you how things are going to happen so you know what to expect.” She also loves how all of the instructors take their time to make sure they talk with their students about everything, not just schoolwork, even if they aren’t that student’s advisor.

Karen’s ideal job is working in a hospital or doctor’s office as a medical assistant. Within the next five years, she wants to be worry free of financial burdens. She doesn’t want to worry about things from pay to pay. “Things like that are difficult for a single mom,” she says. “I think, once I graduate from UCI, I will be able to accomplish that goal.”

Karen’s favorite part about attending United Career Institute is the people. She says, “Everyone there is great. All the instructors and other staff are very helpful with everything.”

When asked about whether or not she would refer United Career Institute to a friend, she said, “Yes I would. People at UCI are great!”

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

Shauna King – Student Highlight

Shauna King is one of United Career Institute’s determined medical assisting students. She enrolled in the May 2020 start at the Irwin campus. After graduating from East Allegheny High School, Shauna decided to take a year off. She had a few ideas in mind as to what career route she wanted to take. She thought of attending a massage therapy school. She was also considering taking classes at a local community college and then transferring to a larger university to become a veterinarian technician.

Shauna knew that she wanted to help people so she decided on the Medical Assisting program. She had taken a few medical courses in high school, so she already had an understanding of what she would be learning. Her favorite class so far has been Medical Terminology. She said that she took a similar course in high school.

Her favorite part about attending United Career Institute are the other students. “My favorite part about being here would be how easy it is to make friends here. Everyone is so nice and helpful.” Erin Messer is Shauna’s favorite instructor. She thinks that Erin makes class fun and is always so helpful!
After she graduates, Shauna hopes to be working as a medical assistant. She isn’t quite sure what setting she wants to work in yet. She is striving to be very successful at her job and hopes to help people as much as she can. We are so excited to have Shauna in our Medical Assisting program!

To learn more about United Career Institute’s medical programs, request information here!