Being an Essential Healthcare Worker in a Post-COVID World

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things in our daily lives. Those who are healthcare workers have experienced an even more significant number of changes that have affected their professional lives.

The growth of telemedicine, the increased focus on sanitation and cleanliness, and the shortage of healthcare professionals are changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has partly caused. Read on as we share more information on each of these shifts!

Growth of Telemedicine

If you are unfamiliar with the concept, you may be wondering, what is telemedicine? Telemedicine is defined as the use of telecommunications and technology to assess, diagnose, and treat patients remotely.

For example, if you wake up with a weird rash and decide to schedule a virtual visit with your healthcare provider, you will likely have a video call to complete the visit. Your healthcare professional will go through the same set of questions that they would at an in-person appointment. They will want to know things like how long the rash has been there, if anything specific caused it, and may even ask you to show it to them on camera. Then, they will provide the appropriate treatment, such as calling in a prescription for a rash cream to your local pharmacy.

This type of patient assessment and treatment has become much more common due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Telemedicine allows healthcare providers to treat patients from the comfort of their homes, which can stop the spread of illness for those who are contagious since they do not have to leave their homes to receive care. It also allows healthcare providers to reach patients in more rural areas who may not be able to travel to appointments.

According to a report from McKinsey & Company, telehealth usage has increased 38 times from what its usage levels were before the pandemic. This means there are more opportunities now than ever before to work in telemedicine.

If you are considering a career as a healthcare worker in a position like practical nursing or medical assisting, you may one day treat patients in a telemedicine environment.

Focus on Sanitation

As the COVID-19 pandemic began, an increased focus on sanitation and cleanliness quickly started as well. There are sanitation and cleanliness standards for essential healthcare workers that must be practiced while on the job for infection control.

Even at home or in public spaces, healthcare professionals and everyone else have experienced this increased focus on sanitation. For example, it’s recommended to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soapy water many times per day to stop the spread of germs.

For buildings in community settings, the CDC recommends cleaning high-touch services at least once per day. Some examples of these surfaces include countertops, light switches, desks, keyboards, shopping carts, and phones.

For those who work in healthcare, you will need to consistently practice sanitation and cleanliness standards to avoid the spread of germs while on the job and in your personal life.

Shortage of Professionals

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic began, there was a growing shortage of healthcare professionals. With the aging baby boomer generation needing more care and the increased access to healthcare created by legislative changes within the past decade, the need for qualified healthcare professionals has been growing for some time.

One example of this growth is for practical nursing professionals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the projected growth rate for practical nurses from 2020 to 2030 will be 9%, and there will be an average of 60,700 job openings for LPNs each year in the United States.

When COVID-19 hit the US, it increased the need for healthcare professionals even more. With hospitals and other healthcare facilities providing care to a larger number of patients, many are experiencing a critical shortage of healthcare professionals.

Due to these shortages, some healthcare facilities have increased the salary for qualified professionals and even started offering sign-on bonuses. With this continuously growing need for healthcare professionals, now is the perfect time to start a career in the medical field.

If you’re ready to get started in this growing industry, we’re here to help! Learn more about our healthcare training programs in Practical Nursing, Medical Assisting, and Medical Billing/Administration today.

Request information now to get started on your path to a healthcare career!

Cassidy Winck – Student Highlight

United Career Institute is thrilled to introduce you to our August Student of the Month, Cassidy Winck.

Cassidy is a student in United’s Medical Assisting program.

United Career Institute is Cassidy’s first experience with a post-secondary institute. Prior to attending school, she was a part of the workforce. “I was working full time at Pediatric Associates as a receptionist,” Cassidy said.

Cassidy’s decision to attend United was driven by some of her friends who attended previously. “I chose to come to United Career Institute because two of my mutual friends came here a couple of years ago,” she said.

Cassidy’s experience as a receptionist at Pediatric Associates was part of what drove her decision to pursue medical assisting at United. She said, “I chose medical assisting because while I was working at Pediatric Associates of Westmoreland, I was able to see what a medical assistant was and became interested in what they do daily.”

Cassidy’s favorite part of attending United is the bond she has built with her fellow classmates. “My favorite thing about United Career Institute are the friends that I made while being here,” she said.

She also loves the instructors she’s had at United. “I haven’t found a teacher I didn’t like here. All of the teachers are helpful, supportive, and push you to do your best.”

Cassidy has some big plans for her life after graduation. “After graduation, my ideal job is to be a medical assistant.” She continued to say “I would [also] like to have a house and a family of my own.”

Cassidy said she would absolutely refer United Career Institute to a friend. “This school has shown me that hard work pays off.”

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

Proper Eye Examination

Hands-on clinical skills are a critical component in our allied health programs at United Career Institute. Watch the video to observe one of the many skills learned in our Medical Assisting program. Allied Health Program Director, Kelly Shriver, guides two of her medical assisting students through performing a proper eye examination.

If you see yourself in a healthcare career such as Practical NursingMedical Assisting, or Medical Billing/Administration, click here to learn more. Enjoy the demonstration!

Excela Health – Externship Highlight

One of the core values of United Career Institute is relationships; “we build meaningful and trusted relationships at the foundation of our culture.” Through these relationships, we provide our students with a well-rounded educational experience that will give them hands-on experience in their field of study.

United accomplishes this through an externship component of the Medical Assisting and Medical Billing/Administration programs. The students’ externship allows them to go into a real-world setting and apply the knowledge and skills they have learned at the campus.

For externships to work, you have great employer partners willing to accept students to apply these skills, and we do not have a shortage of partners at the Irwin campus. One of our partners is Excela Health, and many students have performed their externship at one of the many facilities that they operate. Excela Health brought together three hospitals and other healthcare affiliates to meet the health care needs of those in Westmoreland, northern Fayette, and southern Indiana counties. We are honored to work with; Frick Hospital in Mount PleasantLatrobe Hospital in Latrobe, and Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg. 

Students completing their externship with Excela achieve various clinical experiences, and Excela has been incredibly accommodating when it comes to United Career Institute students. We asked their representatives some key questions to explore why Excela likes to participate in these externship experiences, and they were indeed quick to answer.

When asked, “what value does a United student receive completing an externship with your organization?” Office Manager Nicole Zerone was quick to respond, saying, “We believe hands-on is so important, and we like to provide students support learning hands-on. We have all been there before and love to help students out.” When we asked the question, “What value does your organization receive having a United student complete their externship at your business?” she responded just as quickly, explaining, “It gives us an opportunity to mold someone into a good employee and give them the tools they need to succeed should they be employed by Excela.” United Career Institute could not value the relationship with Excela enough.

When it comes to giving students insight into their futures, we had to conclude with this perspective. “What advice would you give a student entering school in 2021/2022?” Zerone replied, “Take it one day at a time and learn as much as you can. Be attentive to your experiences and take constructive criticism, as all of these things can help you to become a good employee.”

To learn more about United’s externship program or if you are interested in getting the training you need to work at a place like Excela Health, request information here!

Amy Smith – Student Highlight

Before stepping on campus at United Career Institute, Amy Smith, one of our medical assisting students, spent some time at Slippery Rock University.  After her father suffered from some severe medical conditions, she, unfortunately, did not return.  Thankfully for us at UCI, that lead her here!

Amy did a lot of traveling and volunteer work before leaping back into her education.  When asked why she chose UCI, Amy said she saw the banner while visiting a local restaurant and decided to speak to one of our Admissions Advisors to get the ball rolling.  After her appointment, she knew this was something she could manage and wanted to earn her degree.

When asked why she chose to work as a medical assistant, Amy replied that she “enjoys working with people.”  Amy hopes to apply her “knack for making people feel comfortable in uncomfortable situations” to her future career as a medical assistant.  This “knack” is something we all have seen, as you can frequently find Amy in a study group with her peers, performing random acts of kindness and lending an ear to anyone who needs it.

Amy said her favorite part of UCI is the people.  She said she had no idea she would “meet so many truly wonderful people” when she decided to attend United.  Amy “thinks this profession attracts helpful and genuinely kind individuals, and we have a school full of them!”

When asked about her favorite instructor, Amy picked one of our newest team members, Annette Crowe. Medical terminology was once an intimidating class for Amy, but it is now Amy’s favorite class, thanks to Annette’s “down-to-earth and funny way” to approach the course.

After graduation, Amy feels like she could find herself working in a doctor’s office and maybe even offering private tutoring to struggling students.  In five years, Amy hopes to be “living in the moment by trusting and enjoying the story of her life.”

When asked if she would refer a friend or family to attend United Career Institute, Amy quickly replied, “I absolutely would refer a friend or family member.” In fact, her own daughter, a high school senior, is the first person she is recommending our school to.

We here at United feel it is truly a pleasure to have Amy as a student on our campus, and we can’t wait to see where life takes her.

Allison Orr – Graduate Highlight

United Career Institute Mt. Braddock is excited to introduce you to Allison Orr, a recent graduate of our Medical Assisting program.

Prior to attending United, Allison was working with the elderly at a nursing home.  She knew she had a passion for helping people and wanted to find a school that would set her up to continue to do that in her career. She said, “I chose United because it looked like a promising school. I was absolutely correct about my expectations. I’m so grateful I chose this school.”

Allison chose United’s Medical Assisting program because of her love for helping people and her desire to learn all she can about the medical field and have a meaningful impact on the community around her. “I have a passion for helping people. I want to make a difference in this community and become very educated in my field of study,” she said.

There were many things about United Career Institute that Allison enjoyed. Among these things were the curriculum and the “amazing teachers,” but first and foremost, she liked that she was treated as an individual. “Everyone knew you as who you were, and [you were] not just a number,” she said.

Allison cites the “amazing teachers” as one of her favorite things about United, but one instructor, in particular, stands out as her favorite. “My favorite teacher was Kelli Workman. She believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. She pushed me to my greatest potential. She knew I had the courage within me and encouraged me. I’m so thankful to have had her while I attended this school,” Allison said.

Allison graduated from United Career Institute a few short weeks ago, and we are so excited to announce that she will be returning to United for our Practical Nursing program! Many students who dream of becoming a nurse choose to start their journey in the medical field with United’s Medical Assisting program. This allows students to gain a base knowledge in a less stressful and rigorous environment.

Allison has some very admirable goals for the next five years. She says, “In five years, I would love to be at my forever job. I can’t wait to be a nurse and helping people every day of my life. The ultimate goal is to be unconditionally happy.”

When asked if she would refer a friend to United Career Institute, Allison said, “Absolutely. This is a great environment to learn and grow as a person.”

To learn more about the medical pathway programs at United Career Institute, request information here!

What Is the Difference Between a MA and LPN?

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

Career Outlook

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

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

Skills Needed

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

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

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

Training Required

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

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

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

Work Environment

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

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

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

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

 

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

*Certification is contingent upon passing the corresponding industry certification exam. Required/included in tuition/fees.

**Certification is contingent upon passing the corresponding industry certification exam. Optional at own expense.

 

Career Services at United

Career services at United Career Institute assist students with their experience while giving them the edge they’ll need for future job prospects. Whether you’re a traditional or nontraditional student, returning to school, or just starting your journey, United’s career services are here for you.

We are committed to helping you achieve your goals, which is why we offer career readiness, professional development, and continuing assistance to all of our students.

Career Readiness

Interviewing for your dream job can be intimidating and overwhelming, which is why students are given the opportunity to participate in mock interviews before graduation. Practicing and polishing your interviewing skills helps you gain the confidence needed to stand out from others in actual interviews who may be applying for the same job as you.

United maintains partnerships with a network of local employers where students can gain hands-on experience in real-world settings through externships or clinicals, depending on your program. The skills and knowledge you acquire during this experience will benefit you when added to your resume and LinkedIn profile.

The assistance of career services goes beyond the classroom. We take great pride in helping employers find qualified candidates for open positions while simultaneously helping our students with job placement as they begin their careers.

Professional Development

At United, we have a team ready to assist all students with professional development. From admissions to career services to graduation, our team is dedicated to helping you create a plan to achieve your career and financial goals.

Personal and professional branding is essential in today’s job market and can help you stand out among other job applicants. Career services will help you create individualized branding tailored just for you.

We will help you create a LinkedIn profile showcasing your knowledge, skills, abilities, and experience to prospective employers. Volunteer work, externships, and special projects may be added to demonstrate your value as an employee.

Career services will also help you prepare professional documents like cover letters, resumes, thank you notes, references, and letters of recommendation. These documents are often the first impression an employer has of you as a potential employee and should be error-free and professional-looking.

Continuing Assistance

Our enthusiasm for your success doesn’t end once you graduate. We’ll still be here to give you continued guidance throughout your career. You’ll have access to courses that keep you up to date in your chosen career. For example, you’ve earned a degree in Medical Assisting from United, and a few years later, you must learn a new technique. Career services can assist you with learning about and understanding the new procedure.

Additionally, your career goals may change over time, so with that in mind, United offers career advising to all alumni because we want you to succeed now and in the future.

Apply Today

When you choose United, you receive hands-on training as you prepare for professional certifications or licenses while earning your degree.

Applications are now being accepted for fall classes! Check out our career-focused degree programs in Medical Assisting, Medical Billing and Coding, and Practical Nursing. Request information now to get started on your path to a new 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!

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!