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!

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!

United Learning Experience

For those who have never been to our campuses, we want to give you a sneak peek of what it’s like for students who attend United Career Institute. Our Irwin and Mt. Braddock campuses train students for rewarding healthcare careers. Read on to discover what it’s like to attend school at United!

Hands-On Skills

Students enrolled in our healthcare training programs have the opportunity to learn a variety of hands-on skills that are essential for their future careers. Practicing these skills gives you valuable experience that you will need while on the job caring for real patients or dealing with real office situations. Check out some of the awesome hands-on skills United students have practiced in their classes!

Classroom Instruction

At United, we provide students with up-to-date classrooms and labs to complete your classes and earn your degree. You will learn from experienced instructors who truly care about you and your career. Our classroom and clinical lab instructors support you in every way possible with a one-on-one approach to education. Check out United students enjoying their educational experience in the classroom!

Certification Prep

We understand that today’s employers want candidates who are qualified and prepared to perform their specific job. That’s why our healthcare programs include training and preparation for certifications* or licenses that are valued by healthcare employers. As a student, you will prepare for those that are specific to your chosen program. Check out some of our students as they prepare for and celebrate earning their professional healthcare certifications!

Student Success

Our purpose is to empower change by creating opportunity, and we are dedicated to this mission every day. We strive to help every student realize their dreams of having a successful, fulfilling career. As you go through your learning experience with United, we are here for you every step of the way, from when you first contact us to learning in your classes to graduation and beyond. Check out some of our awesome students and graduates and request information today to get started on your own path to a successful career!

*Certification is contingent upon passing the corresponding industry certification exam.

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!

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!

Christmas Giving: How To Give Back During the Holidays

The holidays are here, and that means Christmas music, festive cookies, and tasty food. For many, this is truly the most wonderful time of the year. But for some people who are less fortunate or going through hard times, the holidays can be a real challenge.

This presents us with an opportunity to give back to others during this time of year. Keep reading as we share some ways to help people by giving back during the holidays!

Volunteer Your Time

Giving your time by volunteering is a great way to give back to those who are less fortunate. This year has been especially hard on many people, so now is the perfect time to begin your volunteering journey. Making or serving food at your local food pantry or soup kitchen can help those suffering from food insecurity and hunger.

Volunteering to help make care packages for local families is another great way to donate your time. Nonprofit organizations and churches often prepare and send out holiday care packages, so check with those in your local community to see where you can help.

Since many nursing homes have been unable to see family most of this year due to the pandemic, it’s easy for them to feel alone during the holidays. Check with your local nursing homes to see if you are able to remotely visit people via video calls to lift their spirits during this time. For those of you who are blessed with the gift of song, singing Christmas carols can really bring joy to nursing home residents!

Contribute Food

Many people suffer from hunger and food security issues, so giving food around the holidays is a great way to help others. Gather nonperishable food items like canned goods, pasta, and rice, and take these to your local food banks, shelters, and churches that distribute or serve food to those who need it. Feel free to contact these local organizations before you donate food to see any specific items they need.

Additionally, many employers, schools, and other organizations hold food drives during the holidays to help those who cannot provide holiday meals for themselves or their families. Donating nonperishable items to these food drives can go a long way in helping support your community and those in need.

Give Toys

Donating toys to local toy drives is another common way to spread the Christmas spirit and give back during the holidays. Just think of the smile you could put on the face of a child in need by giving them a toy! Check with children’s hospitals, homeless shelters, and children’s shelters to determine if they have children there currently who will not receive anything for Christmas. Be sure to ask the children’s age, so you can get them an age-appropriate gift they will love!

In addition to donating directly, many local organizations do toy drives around the holidays, and there are also national nonprofits that donate toys to underprivileged children.

Donate Money

Another great way to spread holiday cheer is by donating money directly to organizations and nonprofits that help others. These can be local charities in your community or national groups that serve the whole country. For many nonprofits, you can donate money directly on their website. For those that do not have this option, you can call them to ask how to donate. Some national charity organizations you could donate to include:

In addition to money, you can also donate other items that those less fortunate may need, like clothing and blankets.

Be There For Others

The holidays are the perfect time to spread joy and love, showing the true meaning of Christmas to those around you. Due to the pandemic, many people will be spending Christmas alone and away from family this year. You can make a difference just by being there for others during this time. Reach out to someone who may be alone for the holidays to let them know you care.

Remember, when you give back to others, you are not only bringing joy to them but you as well. Happy Holidays from United Career Institute; we hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!

Financial Aid 101

You must make many important decisions when enrolling in career training classes, and financial aid is one of these decisions. Determining exactly how you will pay for your training and degree is a critical step to enrolling in school.

At United, we assist each and every student through the enrollment process, from the first time we speak with you, to creating your personalized financial plan, to helping you sign up for classes.

Financial Aid Process

Figuring out your financial aid can be complicated and confusing. There are so many different options, so how do you know which ones will work best for you? This is why we are here for our students every step of the way through the financial aid process.

“Financial aid is very complex, and there is a lot of detail. If a student has no idea what kind of student aid they qualify for, that is completely fine. We will walk each student from point A to point Z,” said Parker Rhoads, Financial Aid Advisor.

After completing your admissions interview next, you will meet with a financial aid advisor for your financial aid appointment. During this meeting, we assist students by walking you through the steps to complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which must be submitted to qualify for federal/state grants and loans.

Next, after completing the FAFSA, we work with each student to create a personalized financial aid plan just for you. This plan will break down exactly how you will pay for school, so you can be confident about earning your degree and starting your path to an exciting new career.

“Our goal is to get our students graduated with as little debt as possible,” said Parker. “We understand that many of our students have been to college before, especially in a university setting, and it didn’t work out, so keeping their debt low is extremely important.”

Once your personalized financial aid plan is completed, you will confirm that the plan works for you and sign your financial aid documents.

At United, we have a financial aid officer here on campus, so students can pop in to ask questions or call whenever. We are a smaller school, so you don’t have to go through 10 different people to get ahold of the person you need. If a student has a question, all you need to do is call the school and ask to speak to someone in financial aid. In addition, students get access to our loan assistance department so that they can ask questions about your loans at any time.

Types of Financial Aid*

As you go through your financial aid appointment and review your personalized financial aid plan, you will learn that there are many different types of financial aid programs available to those who qualify.

  • Federal Pell Grants: This is grant money from the federal government to help fund your education that you do not have to pay back.
  • State Grants: Some states also have grant money available to help students fund their education that does not have to be paid back.
  • Grants/Scholarships**: These include both institutional grants offered by United and third-party scholarships from other sources to help pay for your education. We encourage students to research and apply for scholarships.
  • Student Loans: These are loans from the federal government or third-party providers that students take out to help pay for their education. Students are not required to make payments for their loans while they are attending school; however, we highly encourage them to make some cash payments to reduce their total amount of debt.
  • PLUS Loans: These loans are available for parents to take out to help pay for their student’s education. Parents must qualify for this type of loan.
  • GI Bill®^: For those who have served, you can use your veteran’s tuition benefits to help pay for your education.
  • Employer Tuition Reimbursement: This is for students who work for a company that offers tuition reimbursement to help pay for their employee’s education.
  • Cash Payments: Cash payments are what students make toward their own education, so they do not have to take out as many loans.
  • 529 Plan: This is a separate savings account for educational purposes that parents can set up for their children.

Your financial aid advisor will help you determine which specific types of financial aid you qualify for to help pay for your education during your financial aid appointment.

Completing the FAFSA

Filling out the FAFSA is critical to qualifying for financial aid. The information provided in this application will determine what types of financial aid and how much you qualify for. It’s important to make sure the information provided is accurate and up to date. Once your FAFSA is submitted, you will receive an Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) number, which the federal government looks at when you apply for financial aid.

At United, we assist our students by helping them fill out their FAFSA or updating a previous FAFSA that may be incomplete. The FAFSA must be completed each year that a student plans to attend school.

“We are here to walk students through it, every step of the way,” said Parker. For anyone considering going to school, Parker says to “complete your FAFSA as soon as possible. Get in touch with our financial aid department, and we can walk you through the process, step by step.”

Join Us At United

At United, we are career-driven. We want to train students quickly so that you can begin your new career faster. “We provide our students a premium educational experience with face-to-face and personal interaction,” said Parker.

Our career-focused programs and supportive learning environment can help you start your career with the knowledge, skills, and experience to succeed. Explore our healthcare training programs and request information to get started today!

*For those who qualify.

**For those who qualify. See catalog for detailed eligibility requirements.

^ GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.

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!