Kyle Bair – Student Highlight

Irwin, Pennsylvania is a good distance from the Sierra Nevada Mountains. There’s little chance anyone would confuse the two of them, but that is precisely the route that Practical Nursing student Kyle Bair took that brought him to United Career Institute Irwin Campus. “I was living in Lake Tahoe and going to Sierra Nevada College before I came to United Career.
Overall it was a good experience, but I moved back this way, and United was the closest school to me for what I wanted.” Kyle was working at a local nursing home as an aide when he decided to go back to school. “I knew helping people is what I’ve always wanted to do, and what better way to accomplish that than becoming a nurse.” Kyle started the fast-track Practical Nursing (LPN) program in June of 2020 and is set to graduate in June of this year.

We asked Kyle what his favorite part of the program has been so far, and he was quick to answer all of the curriculum and information he has absorbed. “I have a thirst for knowledge, and there is no shortage of that here, and so far, my favorite class has been A&P.” When it comes to instructors, he said, “they all have been very good, but if he had to pick his favorite it would be Tina Fenyus,” who he had for Pharmacology, Nutrition and Med Surg.

Kyle likes to think of himself as a nomad, so it’s no surprise his ideal occupation after graduating would be a travel nurse. In 5 years, he hopes his career is steady, and he has a lot of travel under his belt. When asked if he would refer a friend to United Career Institute, Kyle didn’t hesitate, “Absolutely! Nursing is tough, but I enjoy my classmates, and we support each other. This is a great school, and if you are willing to put the work in, the reward is well worth it!” United couldn’t be happier to have Kyle as one of our students.

If you’re looking for a fast-track, Practical Nursing program in Westmoreland County, then request information here!

Stacey Davis – Staff Highlight

“Being in control of your own motivation and happiness is a great feeling!” Those are the words of the newest team member of United Career Institute Irwin’s Campus, Stacy Davis. “I like to motivate myself, and that can be very rewarding.” Stacey’s path to joining our team may not have been a traditional one. She graduated from college with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Marketing and put that education to use by moving to New York City, where she was a fashion blogger and involved with social media marketing. She recalls that move as one of her proudest moments, and says “I moved to NYC on a whim, and it was terrifying! But I’m so glad I pushed myself to do it, and it was an experience that I will never forget!”

Upon returning to the area, Stacey worked in the restaurant industry and recently managed a wedding venue as a wedding coordinator. She relates that experience to why she originally applied for Front Desk/Registrar at UCI-Irwin. “I like seeing and helping people when they are happy and pursuing their dreams. That certainly is the case as they plan for their wedding, and I believe that is the case for students beginning their path to reach their career goals.” She says she chose to work at UCI because she liked the atmosphere from the very beginning, and she made her final decision based on her favorite thing so far, the people. “Everyone has been so nice and welcoming; it’s like an extended family.” Stacey sees herself as a creature of comfort and would love to have a long career at UCI. She believes her attention to detail and organizational skills will help her tremendously in her role.

To say Stacey might be a little bit of a cat person is an understatement. Stacey and her husband once decided to foster a group of kittens for the local animal rescue shelter. “Our guest bedroom quickly turned into a kitten sanctuary until they were able to be adopted out. It was really wonderful for us, even though my cats didn’t particularly like all the extra house guests.”

So far, Stacey’s Type A personality has been a great fit for our school and our students, and she has been a quick study on the responsibilities of her position. Join me in welcoming Stacey to the United Career Institute Irwin’s family and being a super addition to our team!

Amy Murray – Student Highlight

United Career Institute Mt. Braddock is proud to introduce you to our March Student of the Month, Amy Murray. Amy is one of our practical nursing students and has a unique story behind how she ended up at United….She was a student 17 years ago when we were still named West Virginia Career Institute! At the time, she was a medical assisting student, and her experience in that program is what encouraged her to come back to United when she was ready to continue her education. “I chose United because I had an amazing experience the first time around!!! The PN program was exactly what I was looking for and located fairly close to me. United also worked with my schedule with my children. I have school when they have school, so I’m not missing a significant amount of time with them,” Amy said.

Amy had always had dreams of being a nurse and originally hoped to pursue that dream directly after completing her Medical Assisting degree. “I chose the PN program because it has always been a dream of mine to become a nurse. After the MA program, I had planned on continuing my journey to become a nurse, but God had bigger plans for me then. That’s when I was blessed with my three beautiful children and was lucky enough to stay home and raise them for several years. Now that they are older, with their support, I was finally able to return to school to finish what I started so many years ago.”

There are so many things about United that Amy loves that she had trouble picking just one! “One of my favorite parts of attending United is knowing that I am learning the skills that will help me reach my lifelong dream of becoming a nurse. Another favorite part would have to be coming to school every day and being in a class full of amazing women who support each other,” she said.

Just like Amy had trouble picking her favorite part of attending United, she also had a hard time picking her favorite instructor. “I love ALL of my teachers! Each and every one of them wants to see us succeed and will encourage and believe in us even when we may not believe in ourselves.” While Amy had trouble picking her favorite part of attending United and her favorite teachers, she had no trouble picking her favorite class! “My favorite class would have to be Lab/Clinical,” she said. “I really enjoy being able to go to the hospital for clinical and use what we have learned in class to help people,” she continued.

Amy’s ideal job after graduation is working in the Emergency Department or Labor and Delivery. In five years, she hopes to be working as a nurse and achieve financial stability.

When asked if she would recommend a friend to United, Amy said, “I would definitely recommend United to a friend, and I would even recommend [it] to a complete stranger. The small class sizes, amazing teachers, location, and hands-on experience United offers prepares you to become the best nurse you can be for future patients and their families.”

If your story sounds similar to Amy’s or if you’re interested in learning more about United’s Practical Nursing program, request information here!

Nikki Feltes – Student Highlight

While in high school, United Career Institute Medical Assisting student Nikki Feltes had an idea she may want to pursue a career in healthcare, but didn’t see herself going to a four year college. During her time at Latrobe Area High School, she took advantage of a program available to students through the Eastern Westmoreland Career Technology Center where they could split HS studies with a health occupation program. During that time, Nikki began to see herself making healthcare a career, so when she wasn’t studying for school, she was working part-time at a nursing home. Upon graduation in June 2020, Nikki discovered United Career Institute in Irwin and thought it might be a perfect avenue to continue her healthcare aspirations. After meeting with the admissions team, her decision was made.

When we asked Nikki why she chose the United Career Institute Irwin campus, she said, “I thought it would be a fun and interesting school. Now that I have begun the program, boy was I right!” She has enjoyed learning new things pertaining to the medical field and not only going to class with other high school students in the same position as her, but other adult learners too. Her ultimate motivation for choosing UCI’s Medical Assisting program was sparked by her already having exposure to it from her time at EWCTC. She learned a lot about what medical assistants do from her Health Occupations program, and just knew that it would be something she’d be good at. She feels she’ll always enjoy working in a healthcare setting and hopefully make a difference in people’s lives.

The Medical Assisting program has many engaging and hands-on classes, but we had to ask Nikki what her favorite class has been so far, and she didn’t hesitate to answer; Anatomy & Physiology. “I love learning about the human body and diseases,” said Nikki. We also had to ask Nikki who her favorite instructor has been to this point, and the answer was immediate again; Kelly Clark. Nikki added, “She is so nice and laid back. I’ve always felt like I could tell her anything.” That reaction to Kelly Clark’s teaching is not uncommon. So it came as no surprise that Nikki felt the same way. It’s always good to hear positive feedback like this from our students, and Nikki’s is no exception.

Looking into the future, we asked her what she sees her life like after she graduates. Nikki hopes to be a medical assistant in either a children’s hospital or at a doctor’s office. She has a true passion for caring for children. She will be looking to do her externship in pediatrics locally to quell her passion for working with kids. Five years from now, she hopes to still be working as a medical assistant, and she wants to start a family eventually. Nikki can see herself married, happy in her career, and hopefully buying and moving into a new house.

If your story sounds like Nikki’s, request information here!

Cassidy East – Student Highlight

United Career Institute is thrilled to introduce you to Cassidy East, the February Student of the Month!

Cassidy has not been a part of the United family for long, as she started classes after she graduated from high school last year. “Before attending United Career Institute, I was enrolled as a student at Mount Pleasant Jr/Sr High School. I was also enrolled in the Health Occupations program at Central Westmoreland Career and Technology Center,” she said.

Cassidy chose United’s Medical Assisting program because of the flexibility it offers. Medical Assisting students only attend classes Monday through Thursday and are done by 2:30 each day. This schedule allows United students to work while in school, if they choose to do so. Cassidy said, “I chose to come to United because it seemed like the perfect fit for me as I still wanted to continue to work as I gained my education.”

Cassidy has hopes to continue her education one day, but chose to start with the Medical Assisting program because it offers a great base to build off of. “I chose my program based on the knowledge I wanted to gain. I felt if I did the Medical Assisting program first, I would have a better understanding for when I go to further my education,” she said.

Medical Terminology was Cassidy’s favorite class so far. “This was my favorite because of how well I excelled in that class. I earned over 100% for Med Term 1-3,” she said. Overall, her favorite part of attending United is the general environment. “My favorite part of United is how relaxing it is, and also the people are really nice, and so it makes going enjoyable.”

After graduation, Cassidy hopes to be working in the medical field, specifically in a hospital. “My ideal job after graduation is in the hospital.” She continued, “If these plans are unable to be done right away, I would also enjoy working at a doctor’s office until I can further my education.”

In five years, Cassidy hopes to have a good job and generally be living a stable life. She said, “I would like to see myself having a stable job with a livable income. I would also like to see myself living on my own and having a better car.”

Cassidy is enjoying her time at United Career Institute and would definitely refer a friend! “I would definitely refer a friend as you gain a great education at United Career!”

If your story sounds similar to Cassidy’s or if you are interested in learning more about United’s Medical Assisting program, request information here!

Bethany Slezak – Student Highlight

Bethany Slezak is one of United Career Institute’s practical nursing students at the Irwin campus.She started the program in June of 2020 and will be graduating in June of 2021. She chose United Career Institute because she liked the idea of smaller classes, and she felt like it had a more family-like approach. Before she came to United, Bethany was working as an aide at a personal care home. She knew she wanted to go to nursing school because she likes taking care of people. She said, “I know it’s cliché to say that I want to take care of people, but it really is true. Specifically working with geriatrics, I want to give them the care they are entitled to.”

One of Bethany’s favorite parts about attending United is the instructors. She feels that they are very approachable and helpful to the students. “I love all of my instructors. They each have amazing qualities like their confidence, cleverness, intellect, humor, and are kindhearted. All things that I look up to.” Her favorite class so far has been Anatomy & Physiology. She said, “I find it fascinating how our bodies work. It is also the basis of Medical Surgical Nursing, so it’s great to see everything I’ve learned coming together!”

After she graduates, Bethany would like to start working in long term care. She wants to move on to Hospice care eventually. When we asked how she would like her life to be like in five years, she said, “I would like to be successful in my new career, married, and have some kiddos running around.”

If your story sounds similar to Bethany’s, request information here!

Kristen Ruby – Student Highlight

United Career Institute Mt. Braddock is thrilled to introduce you to our January Student of the Month, Kristen Ruby!

Prior to starting medical assisting classes at United Career Institute, Kristen was taking CNA (certified nursing assistant) classes and working at Cherry Tree Nursing Home, but she had bigger goals for her career in the healthcare industry. She had her sights set on being a nurse!

Kristen chose United Career Institute because of the small class sizes. She knew that having fewer students meant more one on one time with her instructors. United prides itself on keeping its class sizes small so that instructors can be sure to give each student the individualized attention they deserve.

Kristen has dreams of becoming a nurse, but wisely chose to start that journey In United’s Medical Assisting program. She knew that a practical nursing program’s rigor is made much easier when you have the base knowledge of a medical assisting program, so when she heard of United’s Nursing Pathway Program, she knew she found the right fit. This pathway program allows graduates of the United Medical Assisting program, who maintain a certain GPA and attendance percentage, to be exempt from taking the TEAS exam, the entrance exam used for nursing programs.

Kristen’s favorite part of attending United is “learning new things in the medical field and making new friends.” She also loves the instructors at United. “I would have to say that all my teachers that I have had so far are my favorite. I can’t pick a favorite one. My favorite class would have to be between med term and clinicals because they were both fun, and I learned new things,” she said.

After graduation, Kristen hopes to work in a doctor’s office to gain some experience but ultimately has her eyes set on becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse. She also hasn’t written off the idea of continuing on to become a Registered Nurse!

Kristen says she would absolutely refer a friend to United Career Institute because “it’s a small school and has small classroom sizes and a lot of people like that. The staff is very helpful when they are needed.”

If your story sounds similar to Kristen’s or if you are interested in ultimately becoming a nurse, request information here!

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!

4 Tips for Better Time Management

We all have the same amount of time in a day, but it seems some people can get more accomplished than others within the same time frame. How are they doing it? What secrets do these people know that enables them to get more done?

Their secret has been revealed, and it’s better time management! When you proactively manage your time, it allows you to be more effective and get everything done. There are many benefits to having good time management practices, like less stress, more time, and achieving your goals.

Read on as we share with you our top four tips for better time management!

Organize Everything

The first step to great time management is to get organized. You need to know exactly what has to be done to make sure it all gets completed. Whether it’s schoolwork, a project at your job, or something else, create a list of everything you need to do. Writing things down in a simple to-do list is an easy way to get a full picture of all the things you have to complete. You can even organize them by category by labeling each item.

It’s also beneficial to organize the different things you will need to complete your tasks. Organize the items you need to get things done by creating folders and saving things in a system that works for you. For example, everything you need for a specific school project can be saved into one folder on your desktop. When you actually start doing the work, it will go much faster and be much easier if everything is organized and exactly where you need it.

Prioritize Tasks


Now that you have all your tasks organized, it’s time to prioritize them. When you prioritize things, you’re basically deciding which items will get completed first. The best way to do this is to complete the most important and urgent tasks first. For example, if you are working on a class assignment worth half of your final grade and due this week, this should be moved to the top of your list, because it is both important and urgent.

If something is important but not as urgent, you can decide when to get it done, such as a work project that is not due for three weeks. Some things must be completed in a specific order, so you will need to do the first steps before completing later steps. This is common with larger projects that must be broken down into smaller assignments along the way. Be sure to prioritize the steps that must be completed first so that you can stay on track.

Plan Ahead

Now that you’ve organized everything you need to do and decided what order it must be done, it’s time to plan out exactly when you will complete it all. Planning things out in advance sets you up for success because each day when you start working, you know exactly what to do. One great way to do this is by using a calendar to plan your time. To start, take your list of tasks that you created earlier, and start blocking off time on your calendar to get them done. Be sure to add in the most important and urgent items first.

As you plan ahead, be sure you have everything you need to complete the task during the time you blocked off on your calendar. For example, if you are working on a graphic design project, you will need to have things like the correct images and logos ahead of time, so that when you sit down to work, you are ready to get started. Also, be sure to plan breaks in your day between different tasks, especially ones that take longer to complete. Taking breaks will help you stay focused and give you a refreshed mind for your next task.

Create Deadlines

As you plan out your weeks ahead, be sure to give yourself a deadline to get each item finished. If you are working on a large assignment or project, break it down into smaller pieces, and create deadlines for each of those to help you move along and get each step completed. Be sure to give yourself enough time to get everything done and leave a little extra time if something takes longer than you expect.

Creating time limits to get work completed can also be helpful. If you give yourself six hours to do something, it will most likely take six hours, but if you only give yourself four hours, it will only take four hours. For those who are perfectionists, setting time limits can help prevent you from getting stuck in the endless cycle of making changes to make it more perfect.

Join Us In 2021

Time management is important to your future success. At United Career Institute, we work with each of our students on a personal level to help you balance school, work, and family. We are committed to supporting our students from the moment you first contact us to the time you graduate, and beyond.

Learn more about our career-focused healthcare training programs and start your path to a new career in 2021! Request information now to get started!

A Holiday Message From The Irwin Campus

The holidays are all about appreciating what you have and giving to those who have less. United Career Institute Irwin is encouraging our students and staff to give a little more this year this holiday season. 2020 has been an unpredictable year that has caused us to restructure our personal lives, businesses, and communities. As a United Career Institute family, let’s give back to our communities!

Here are some ways that you can give back to your community.

  • Organize a Food Drive – Pass out fliers with a list of recommended donation items, an “on-your-porch” pick up time, so the donators know when to drop it off, and list the local food bank/shelter where you will be delivering the donations. Ask your friends, family, and neighbors to participate with you!
  • Reconnect with an Old Friend – Sometimes, all it takes is a simple “How have you been doing?” to really brighten someone’s day.
  • Show the Fur Babies Love – Donate blankets and towels to a local animal shelter. Or even volunteer to work a shift there! They are always looking for more volunteers.
  • Donate Books – Donate your gently used books to a local library or nursing home. If they are allowing storytime, you could even stay to read one to a group!

Our Irwin campus chose to participate in a “Giving Tree” for the Westmoreland County Children’s Bureau. Students and staff are able to choose a card with a child’s requested gift, purchase the necessary items, and drop them off in the donation box. This was brought to us by one of our Medical Assisting students, Wendi Rost. Thank you, Wendi!

Here’s wishing you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season!

Irwin Holiday Message