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!

Brandon Hegland – Student Highlight

People always dream of studying abroad, which is exactly what United Career Institute  Practical Nursing student Brandon Hegland was able to do. His studies led him to South America, and upon his return to the United States, he attended Mutual Aid’s Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) program.  Though the training was rigorous, Brandon said it was an “amazing training experience.”

That rigorous training helped to prepare him for what to expect from United’s fast-track Practical Nursing program.  When asked about why he chose United, Brandon credited his sister, a graduate of our Mount Braddock campus, as his “inspiration for becoming a nurse.”

Brandon enjoys the small class sizes and the individualized instruction provided by his instructors. When asked who his favorite instructor was, he said Tina because “she really does know the material she teaches and is more than willing to present the material in different ways so that all her students can comprehend the lectures.”

Clinical experiences are Brandon’s favorite as they help put students in the industry and showcase their skills and work collaboratively with other nurses and patients.  Brandon says clinical allows him to “put all the skills learned into good use.” Clinical experiences have also presented the opportunity for Brandon to reflect on how much he has grown as a practical nurse.

When asked about his ideal job, Brandon didn’t have a specific organization or area in mind, but he does want to be somewhere where he can see the difference he makes in someone’s life.  In his time here at United, this comes as no surprise since Brandon can always be found conversing with his peers and the faculty and staff of United Career Institute with a smile on his face. Five years from now, Brandon sees himself being successful and back to traveling abroad while still keeping in touch with his fellow classmates, particularly Jodi.

To learn more about United’s fast-track Practical Nursing program, request information here!

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!

Shaquna West – Student Highlight

The pandemic has forced changes in many people’s lives, and United Career Institute Medical Assisting student Shaquna West is, unfortunately, no different. “Before COVID hit, I was working as a kitchen manager and working full-time.” However, like so many other food industry workers, Shaq (as she likes to be referred to) found herself back at home being a full-time mother of 6. “I love being with my family, but I also had a desire to take my education and career to the next level. I started originally with Penn Foster but wasn’t getting the help when I needed it. I felt like I was on my own, so I hopped online and searched for medical assisting school, and United Career Institute was the first to pop up,” she said.

After talking to a United admissions advisor and scheduling a tour, Shaq decided to begin her classes. Her love for helping people and her dream of ultimately becoming a nurse has driven her in her studies. “I love the smaller classes at UCI, because it allows the instructors to focus on the students. If you need help, they go the extra mile to get you the information you need.” Shaq listed Arianna as one of her favorite teachers because she pushes her to do better in everything, giving her the motivation she needs. She also enjoys Kelly Clark’s classes because she breaks everything down into terms that are easy for her and the other students to understand.

Shaq looks to the future often, and when she graduates, she envisions her dream career as one where she works in MaGee’s Women’s Hospital or Children’s Hospital. Five years from now, she can see herself continuing her education until she becomes a registered nurse.

In conclusion, Shaq felt obligated to express her feelings about referring others to the United Irwin Campus. “It’s a great school, and they truly put the students first. Everyone is so helpful and willing to get you any information you need!”  With Shaquna’s dedication and work ethic, we certainly see her being successful during her program here!

To learn 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!

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!

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

Lisa Clawson – Faculty Highlight

Lisa Clawson is the phlebotomy instructor at United Career Institute Irwin. She has been at United for almost a year now! She chose to become a phlebotomy instructor because she simply loves phlebotomy and loves to teach. Her favorite parts about working at United Career institute are the students and the staff!

Before joining the United Career Institute team, Lisa had worked doing a few different jobs. She has experience working in a variety of practices including primary care, pediatrics, and ear, nose, and throat (ENT). When asked which characteristics people interested in the medical field should have, Lisa said, “a good work ethic, thoughtful, works well with others, and is helpful.”

Lisa gets a variety of questions from her phlebotomy students. One of the most asked questions is “what kind of job opportunities will I have?” She tells her students, “There are plenty of job opportunities. You can work in many different settings such as dialysis, labs, family practice, blood banks, etc.”

Lisa is motivated by her family. “My children. They are my life. They make me want to be a better person.” She is very proud of them! We are very fortunate to have such a caring instructor!

To learn more about United’s short-term phlebotomy course, request information here!

Growth of United’s Practical Nursing Program in Westmoreland County

At United Career Institute, we are committed to providing our local healthcare community with qualified and well-trained medical professionals.

In Westmoreland County, the need for practical nurses has been growing and is expected to continue to grow in the future. Excela Health has dominated the local area but over the last year, there have been multiple additions from other providers in Westmoreland County, which is a huge area for care centers.

Many nurses are retiring and there are not enough new nursing professionals entering the job market to fill the openings, which is also contributing to the growing need for practical nurses locally.

To meet this increasing need for practical nurses in the local healthcare community, we designed our Practical Nursing program to prepare students to excel in the healthcare field. With no other program like ours in Westmoreland County, United is here to make a difference by training qualified practical nursing professionals.

On June 29 of this year, we started our first cohort in our fast-track Practical Nursing program. Our program is direct admission, which means if you meet entrance requirements, you are immediately in the Practical Nursing program and taking nursing classes. Since this program is direct admission, students don’t waste countless years and financial resources taking general education classes.

Our unique practical nursing training program allows students to complete their nursing courses, prepare for the NCLEX-PN* exam, and graduate in only 12 months.

Practical nursing classes at United are designed to give progressive NCLEX-PN* preparation, including lecture, classroom, and clinical aspects. Students get more and more preparation for the NCLEX-PN* exam as the program progresses.

“Clinical rotations and what students focus on in the curriculum really helps them understand what they will be doing once they graduate,” says Arnold Thimons, Campus President at United Career Institute – Irwin. Practical nursing students may complete clinical rotations at local healthcare facilities like Excela Health, Allegheny Health Network, and Hempfield Manor.

For those who want to want to enroll in United’s Practical Nursing program, now is a great time! First, potential students need to request information and meet with one of our admissions advisors. Based on that interview, if it looks like the program is a good fit for the student and the school, they fill out the application and schedule a time to take the TEAS exam. Once a potential student passes the TEAS exam, they are then scheduled for an interview with the nursing director to complete the final steps in the nursing admissions process.

“Our next practical nursing start is projected to be June of 2021, however, there is such a demand for our school, that we are considering adding an additional start at the beginning of the year,” says Arnold. “With no other Practical Nursing program like ours here in Westmoreland County, students are choosing our fast-track, 12-month option, instead of taking two years of general education courses before even starting nursing classes.”

At United, we are working hard to meet the need for additional practical nursing professionals in Westmoreland County. “We will meet a good portion of the need with the classes that we have at one per year, however, if we can provide a second class, we can help fill the void of the nursing shortage in Westmoreland county,” says Arnold.

Practical nurses who graduate from United Career Institute have the opportunity to make a real difference in the local community by having a positive impact on patient care and providing an exceptional patient experience. Students take with them the knowledge, skills, and experience to be a successful practical nurse, but also soft skills like professionalism, employability, and communication.

To anyone who is thinking about enrolling in United’s Practical Nursing program, Arnold says to “just do it. We truly are a small family here with an environment that is very supportive and conducive to learning. There is a lot of instructor-to-student interaction, hands-on training, and student support.”

Do you dream of becoming a nurse? Are you looking for a career that allows you to help people on a daily basis? Do you want to truly make a difference in the lives of others? Then United Career Institute’s Practical Nursing program may be the perfect choice for you!

Learn more about our fast-track, 12-month Practical Nursing program, and request information now to get started today!

 

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

Jeanine Bitens – Student Highlight

Jeanine Bitens is one of United Career Institute’s bright medical assisting students. She enrolled at the Irwin campus in April 2020. She was previously enrolled at a local community college. Her favorite part about the program was doing clinicals. She really enjoyed working with the patients.

She chose United Career Institute because of our location and small class sizes. Jeanine said, “I did not have to worry about getting lost amongst many students.” She also was relieved to find out that she wouldn’t have to purchase any textbooks at our school. Overall, Jeanine feels like she made a good choice. “It is a different experience going back to school as an older adult. I think for the most part it is better. I was more focused than I was when I was younger, and more determined to finish.”

Jeanine chose to enroll in the Medical Assisting program because she knew that she wanted to be working with patients. She likes the small class sizes and feels like everyone is very welcoming. She said, “The staff and the other students are wonderful. I feel comfortable and I am not as stressed as I was in my other school.” She does not have a favorite instructor or a favorite course. Jeanine likes them all!

After she graduates, Jeanine is hoping to work full time at a local doctor’s office. She wants to be financially stable and working at a job that she loves. We know Jeanine will do great wherever she ends up working! They will be lucky to have such a committed employee!

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