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!

Kelly Shriver – Staff Highlight

United Career Institute Mt. Braddock is excited to introduce you to our new Allied Health Programs Director, Kelly Shriver! Kelly oversees all allied health programs, including Medical Billing/Administration, Medical Assisting, and Clinical Medical Assistant (our 12-month diploma program.)

Though Kelly is new to the United Mt. Braddock family, she has been a part of the United Irwin family since its inception in 2019. We are so happy to have her as part of both teams now!

Kelly’s educational background is in healthcare. She graduated from Indiana County Technology Center with her diploma in Medical Assisting and from Robert Morris University with her Bachelors of Science in Health Services Administration.

Kelly has a plethora of experience in the healthcare industry. Before coming to United, she worked at places such as Excela Health and her alma mater. She says, “I started my career as a medical assistant working in a neurology practice at Excela Health. I moved into a family practice setting 8 months later. After working in family practice for almost 3 years, I was promoted to be a quality coordinator. I worked closely with physicians to make sure patients were receiving all their necessary health screenings. After a year in this role, I was approached to join the organizational, education, and training team, which I happily accepted.  One year into that role, I was promoted to team lead. While working full time at Excela Health, I also taught for two years at Indiana County Technology Center for their evening adult Medical Assistant program.”

Training future medical professionals is one of Kelly’s favorite parts of working at United. “I wanted to get back into being an instructor as it was something I truly enjoyed doing.  Training future medical assistants is really where I saw myself working,” she said. She also loves the familial atmosphere at United. “From the top of the ladder down, everyone truly cares about you and your wellbeing. It really is a great place to work with amazing people,” she continued.

In addition to training future medical professionals, Kelly is motivated by her daughter, Harper. She said, “My daughter Harper motivates me more than anything else. I want to show her that no matter what she wants to do in life, she can achieve it with hard work, dedication, and love. I want to be the best role model I can be for her.”

Kelly is most proud of her academic accomplishments, specifically her time at Robert Morris. “I am most proud of graduating magna cum laude from Robert Morris because I started my program while working a full-time and part-time job and finished it with a newborn baby. Achieving a high GPA was an amazing accomplishment,” she said.

Kelly has some big plans for her future, both in her education and career! “My long-term career goals would be to further my education by getting my master’s in the field of education.  Down the line, I would love to take on a more leadership-oriented role in the organization, too,” she said!

Something you may not know about Kelly is that she wanted to be a special education teacher growing up. “I wanted to be a special education teacher, specifically at the elementary level. I went to elementary school with an autistic boy, and working with him on a daily basis made me so happy. Even though I didn’t end up doing that as a profession, I am still happy where life took me.”

To learn more about United Career Institute, 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!

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.

Meet the Campus President – Arnold Thimons

Meet Arnold Thimons, Campus President here at United Career Institute!

Arnold Thimons

As the Campus President at UCI, Arnold is committed to student success. “Everything at a school leads to one thing and that’s student success, both in the classroom and outside the classroom,” he says.

Arnold has a great philosophy on helping students to achieve their career goals, and that is to encourage and empower them. He believes in encouraging students to reach their full potential and empowering them with the skills they need to succeed in their careers. This includes the hard skills needed to get the job done and also the soft skills that give students the confidence to graduate and succeed.

Before starting as Campus President at UCI, Arnold worked in the building materials industry and then began his career in higher education in 2008. He started at South University as an Admissions Representative and worked his way up to Campus Director. In 2014, he became the Campus Director at WyoTech, a technical school for the automotive industry.

Arnold decided to accept the position as Campus President at UCI for a few reasons. First, in Westmoreland County, where he has lived for 25 years, there is no entry-level healthcare training school like United Career Institute. He sees his role as the chance to make a positive impact in his hometown, enabling students to fast-track their careers. “That fact that I can start this campus from the ground up is awesome,” says Arnold.

The second reason is that after meeting with Chad Callen, CEO, and the Callen family, Arnold knew this was the right choice for him because they do things the right way, from managing employees to how they operate their schools.

In Westmoreland County, there is a shortage of entry-level healthcare professionals. United Career Institute programs are training students to meet the exact needs of healthcare employers in the area for trained and certified healthcare professionals. With UCI, students can fast-track their great healthcare careers.

“Career training gets you into your career quicker, gives you the opportunity to succeed and get a great job,” says Arnold. His favorite thing is to watch students grow and believe in themselves.

When asked what drives him to give his best each day, Arnold’s answer was an easy one: helping others. “Helping students cross the finish line, but not just students, also helping employees achieve their maximum potential to go above and beyond.”

Outside of work, Arnold loves going to Denver to visit his son. He also enjoys camping and fishing in local campgrounds, lakes, and streams. He loves to eat all kinds of seafood but says there’s nothing better than a good steak.

Are you ready to get on the fast-track to a great healthcare career? Request information now to get started today!