How To Start Your Journey
To Become a Medical Assistant

You have chosen the best career path for you and decided to become a medical assistant. Congratulations on making this important decision for a new medical assisting career!

After deciding on your dream job, you’re now ready to create a plan to get you there. In today’s modern healthcare industry, many medical employers require candidates to have specific education, skills, experience, and certifications to qualify for medical assistant positions.

Healthcare employers need well-trained and qualified medical assisting professionals because they are important members of the medical team, providing hands-on patient care.

At United Career Institute, we know the steps you must take to start your journey to become a medical assistant. Keep reading as we share them with you!

Enroll in a Medical Assisting Degree Program

Each member of the healthcare team must be trained in the specific tasks they will be performing while on the job, as healthcare jobs are more specialized now than in the past. When medical professionals are well-trained and knowledgeable in their specialized area, it ensures patients will have a positive experience and receive high-quality care.

As healthcare employers need candidates who have completed specialized training, those who attend a healthcare training program designed for their specific position have an advantage over others. Since you have decided to become a medical assistant, enrolling in a medical assisting degree program that provides you with the knowledge and skills needed is the best option to start your journey to your exciting new career.

At United Career Institute, our Medical Assisting program prepares students to succeed in this exciting career path. After completing their medical assisting classes, students can qualify for jobs in healthcare facilities like hospitals, doctor’s offices, clinics, long-term care facilities, and more.

Learn Hands-On Skills and Gain Experience

As students complete their medical assisting degree program, they also need to learn and practice the hands-on skills that medical assistants perform while on the job. At some point in our lives, we have probably all interacted with a medical assistant at a healthcare facility, so you know how important it is that these valuable professionals are well trained. You would not want someone performing a phlebotomy procedure on you who had never done it before. It’s essential for medical assistants to learn and practice hands-on skills in their medical assisting courses.

For students attending United’s Medical Assisting degree program, they learn a variety of hands-on skills including assisting with exams, collecting and processing medical specimens, performing lab tests, practicing phlebotomy, performing EKGs, and many more.

While enrolled in their medical assisting classes at United, students also have the opportunity to complete an externship and gain experience in real-world healthcare situations. This valuable medical externship provides hands-on experience, setting you up for success as you begin your new career. Adding this real-world experience to your resume can give you an advantage over other candidates as you apply for medical assisting positions.

Prepare for Industry Certifications

In addition to needing the relevant knowledge, skills, and experience, many healthcare employers also prefer medical assisting professionals who are certified. When you earn professional certifications, employers know you have the skills to perform your specific job.

Healthcare industry organizations create certifications to set specific standards for the knowledge and skills that someone must have to complete specific job tasks. Employers know that job candidates who have earned professional healthcare certifications have met these high-quality standards. For this reason, candidates who hold industry certifications stand out among the crowd, because they have the qualifications to get the job done.

Students enrolled in our Medical Assisting program will prepare to sit for multiple certifications from the National Healthcareer Association, including National Certified Clinical Medical Assistant*, Certified EKG Technician**, and Certified Phlebotomy Technician**. These valuable healthcare certifications show that you have the knowledge and skills to excel in your medical assisting career.

Start Your Journey Today With United

You’re now ready to get started on your journey to become a medical assistant. Deciding on a medical assisting training program that offers the right combination of education, skills, experience, and certifications can be a tough decision. If you have questions or need help taking that next step, let our friendly admissions advisors at United help you create a customized plan just for you.

With a WE CARE approach to education, small class sizes, student support, and career services, United may be the perfect place to start your journey to become a medical assistant.

Request information to chat with one of our helpful admissions advisors today!

 

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

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

Shauna Davis – Student Highlight

Shauna Davis is one of United Career Institute’s Medical Assisting students. She enrolled at the Irwin campus in January 2020. Before committing to going back to school, Shauna worked at a debt settlement company as a Payment Research Specialist. One of Shauna’s favorite things about United Career Institute is the friends that she has made. Shauna said, “I seriously love the staff and the girls that I started out with in January! We are honestly so close and have become such great friends! It’s so nice to have the support systems of the girls [and] the instructors and the rest of the staff!”

Before coming to United Career Institute, Shauna tried attending a career school for medical assisting elsewhere. She felt like the atmosphere was completely different and that she could not talk to her instructors. She then came in for an interview with United’s Admissions Advisor, Lynda Mayes, and knew this was the place for her. “From the moment I spoke with Lynda, she made me feel welcomed and like this was a school I was going to love and be able to succeed in.” Shauna’s favorite instructor is Kelly Shriver. “She keeps the classes fun, even when it is a class everyone is dreading! She is also always there for anyone that needs help or someone to talk to!”

Shauna’s favorite class so far has been Medical Coding. She enjoys searching for the different codes and diagnoses. She finds learning the different manuals used to code very interesting. In fact, she hopes to continue furthering her education into the coding aspect of the medical field.

After graduation, Shauna is hoping to work in a doctor’s office. She is considering pediatrics, orthopedics, or maybe OBGYN. Five years from now, she would like to be married, hopefully with a kid. She does plan to further her education while working towards her dream job!

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

Erin Messer – Faculty Highlight

Erin Messer is an adjunct instructor at United Career Institute Irwin. She has an MBA, a Doctorate in Pharmacy, and is currently earning her Doctorate in Education. She started her career working in research & development for a pharmaceutical company and eventually moved into a medical affairs role. Erin has also worked in long-term care and community pharmacy.

Erin Messer-Faculty Highlight

Erin chose to work at United Career Institute because she likes our take on education. She said, “I loved the idea of a local school that offered programs to students to advance their education and career, in a not so traditional way.” She recommends the medical field to students because of the opportunities available. There are always ways to advance your career in this field. “Take it from me, I started in research, moved to clinical practice, and now I’m teaching!”

One thing that motivates Erin is getting to know her students and seeing them succeed. She gets many questions from her students about how they will use certain medications and treatments in their fields. When teaching, she tries to incorporate examples of how the students will be using the materials in their future. Erin also reminds students of the characteristics that will help them stand out when looking for employment. Showing sympathy and understanding will go a long way in the medical field. Erin said, “Although ‘beside manor’ and listening skills are not traditionally taught in school, these attributes make a big difference to patients.”

When she is not busy teaching classes for three different institutions, Erin spends her time playing music. She can read music and plays four instruments! Not many people may know this, but Erin has been skydiving and can also crochet afghans!

To learn more about United’s medical classes, request information here!

Martina Mullen – Student Highlight

Martina Mullen has been a student at United Career Institute’s Irwin campus since January 2020. She is currently enrolled in the Medical Assisting program. She chose Medical Assisting because she knew she wanted to go into the medical field, but wasn’t sure which direction to start in. On top of nearly perfect attendance since the beginning, Martina has also made the school’s President’s list by holding a 4.0 GPA for the first term of her program.

Martina Mullen - Student Highlight

Martina tried a different post-secondary school before, but it just wasn’t for her. She felt like her professor made the class rushed and that it was just a waste of her own time and money. “My favorite part about attending United would be the class schedule and how each class is set up. I don’t feel rushed or overwhelmed with work,” said Martina.

Just like many of our other students, Martina likes the smaller class sizes. “I chose United because I loved that it was small and that I knew if I needed it, I could get one on one help. I also love how everyone is so welcoming and supportive.” Her favorite instructor so far has been Kelly Shriver. She likes that Kelly pushes her to do her best and tries to make everything positive! Martina said, “I like how she doesn’t look at herself as an instructor. She also talks to us about our personal lives.” Her favorite class so far has been Student Success Strategies. She liked that the class helped the students open up and get to know one another. It also helped her to realize the habits she has, good and bad, for both school and life.

Eventually, Martina wants to go to school for Nursing. After she graduates, she hopes to work at either Children’s Hospital or in a doctor’s office. Down the road she hopes to have her student loans paid off, have her own place, and happy with whatever job she gets. She just really wants to help people!

To learn more about United’s medical classes and student services, request information here!

Emily Norman – Student Highlight

Emily Norman is one of United Career Institute’s most recent medical assisting students. She had attended a community college but didn’t have the best experience. She saw the United Career Institute Irwin Facebook page and decided to come in for a tour of the school. Emily Norman-Student HighlightAfter meeting with Lynda, her Admissions Advisor, Emily knew that the Irwin campus was the right place for her! Emily said, “I love the staff. Every last one of them! How welcoming and helpful they are.”

Emily’s favorite instructor is Kelly Shriver. She appreciates that Kelly takes the time to answer her questions in depth. Her favorite class so far has been Intro to Anatomy and Physiology. “Kelly Clark does a great job of explaining it and going over any questions that we have.”

She is currently working full time at a local nursing home, while taking classes! Emily works in the kitchen as a night cook and a front desk concierge. Five years from now, she hopes to be working in a job that she loves. Emily hopes to work in a pediatrics department, possibly even becoming a nurse at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh!

Emily says she would definitely recommend United Career Institute Irwin to anyone who wants a small, family type atmosphere for learning and a staff that truly cares!

To learn more about United’s medical programs, request info here!

 

Tillie Lishego – Student Highlight

United Career Institute Irwin would like to introduce one of our medical assisting students, Tillie Lishego! After discussing the different courses with her Admissions Advisor, Lynda Mayes, Tillie knew medical assisting was the program she wanted to pursue. Tillie Lishego-Student HighlightBecause she has never attended a post secondary school before, she was asked why she chose United Career Institute. “It seemed like a school I would like. It is small and personal with a positive environment that seemed like it would support me being able to learn well. I felt it was a place I would be able to thrive in.” Tillie is currently working at a local personal care home while also going to school full time.

Tillie’s favorite class so far has been Anatomy & Physiology 101. To her surprise, she thought it was an interesting course and she enjoyed learning how the body works. When asked who her favorite instructor is, she couldn’t pick one. She said that she never really liked school, but because of United’s instructors and staff, she loves it now! “The fact is, that no matter what the issue is, all of the staff and students are there to help each other. It is like one big family here and you can really just feel at home.”

Tillie is still looking into her post graduation options. She is considering either a doctor’s office or hospital. She wants to research the different positions offered at multiple locations. Later down the road she plans to have a career, not just a job. She hopes to be making more money and wants to get a house of her own. “I want to have a job I am proud of, and United Career is providing me an opportunity to do just that!”

The Value of Externships

The Value of Externships

A key component of all United Career Institute medical programs is an externship with local employers. It provides a real world aspect to the program and gives students valuable hands-on experience that enhances the skills they learn in the classroom. Externships also provide students a great opportunity to network with other healthcare professionals in their chosen field and get a good idea of the culture of a given employer. Whether it is a 2 week externship in the Phlebotomy program, or a 12 week externship in the Medical Assisting program, we encourage our students to look at their time during externships at a job interview of sorts. Often times, employers use this time as an opportunity to evaluate both clinical and soft skills and how a potential employee may fit in with the company long term.

While UCI students are on their externship, they obtain career-focused experience such as checking vital signs, point of care testing, specimen collection, phlebotomy, and sterilization procedures.

These valuable externships would not be possible without the support of local employers. United Career Institute Irwin is so thankful that our local employers like Excela Health, Allegheny Health Network, UPMC, and Premier Medical Associates have provided the opportunities for our students to complete this on the job training.

How to Create SMART Career Goals

We all have goals that we want to accomplish in life and in our careers. Maybe you aren’t fulfilled in your current job and want a more rewarding career or maybe your goal is to be the first person in your family to graduate from a training program.

Regardless of what you want to achieve, setting SMART career goals can get you there! The most effective goals follow these five guidelines: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

Using these criteria to create your SMART career goals gives you a higher chance of success. How exactly do you create SMART career goals? Keep reading as we share with you exactly how!

Specific

First, SMART career goals must be specific, so that you know exactly what to do in order to reach them. Here is a great example of a specific goal: I want to graduate from a Medical Assisting program in Westmoreland County within 18 months in order to begin a more rewarding career. This is a specific goal because it answers the following questions:

Now that you have answered these questions and created a specific goal, you know exactly what to do to achieve the goal.

Measurable

Next, you need to make sure your SMART career goals are measurable. Creating measurable goals ensures that you can track the progress you make toward your goals. As you take steps to reach your goals, you will be able to tell if you’re on track to meet them or if there is something you need to change.

Separating your larger goal into smaller chunks is the best way to do this. With the goal of completing a medical assisting program to start a more rewarding career, you could create milestones along the way for each class that is part of the program. This way, you are one step closer to your goal for each class you complete.

Attainable

As you create your SMART career goals, it’s essential to create ones that are attainable, because it’s hard to stay motivated to work toward a goal that’s not actually achievable. An example of an unattainable goal would be going to Mars next month. While this sounds like a great goal, it’s not actually attainable, because the technology to go to Mars doesn’t yet exist. Setting super high goals can seem like a good idea, but it can actually be demotivating, because you know you can’t accomplish them anyway.

In our medical assisting goal example, some things you should consider to ensure the goal is attainable for you is if can you commit the time required for the program, do you have the support system needed, and do you have any prerequisites that are required.

Relevant

The next thing you must do is ensure your SMART career goals are relevant to you. Here are some questions you should ask about each specific goal: Is this something you really want to achieve? Do you care enough to put in the work? Does this goal align with your other goals? Does this goal fit into your long-term plans?

For example, our medical assisting goal is relevant because it will help reach your dream of starting a more rewarding career. By achieving this goal, you’re working toward a long-term goal of being in a career that brings you more meaning and fulfillment.

Timely

Last, you need to ensure that your SMART career goals are timely. Creating a timely goal means that it has a time frame that you will complete the goal within. If you create a goal with no deadline, there is no sense of urgency to work toward the goal.

Create a deadline to reach the goal, but also create smaller deadlines for the milestones along the way. For example, with our medical assisting goal, you can create a deadline for taking each class, finishing your externship, and passing certification tests.

Achieve Your Goals with United

Now that you’ve created your SMART career goals, you’re ready to achieve your professional dreams! If you want to work in healthcare, helping your community by providing excellent patient care, United Career Institute has the fast track programs to help you get there.

Learn more and request information about our Practical Nursing, Medical Assisting, Medical Office Administration, and Phlebotomy programs to get started today!

Gabriella Sotak – Student Highlight

“We work so well together and she’s such a great support system for me…a genuinely good person with a big heart!” That is how Medical Assisting student Amanda Cluss describes her classmate and friend, Gabriella Sotak. Gabriella Sotak - Student HighlightGabby was enrolled in college at CCAC when she heard about United Career Institute opening in Irwin. She wasn’t getting everything she wanted from her education so she called the school and made an appointment to come in. Immediately after speaking with Lynda in admissions, she knew this was where she was meant to be.  “Lynda was so understanding and encouraging, really made me feel like I belonged here.” There were some aspects of a larger community college Gabby liked, but most of what she saw at UCI was what she needed; smaller classes, personalized attention and tutoring, and a family atmosphere. Gabby decided that although she didn’t have aspirations of being a nurse, she definitely wanted to work in healthcare, and United Career’s Medical Assisting program provided that start. She sees herself working in a private doctor’s office someday, in general practice.

When we asked Gabby what her favorite thing about the school was, she didn’t hesitate a bit. “I love my classmates and the girls are all so helpful. They make you feel like you’re part of the family from day 1. I also love the staff! Kelly, Bianca, and Arnold are wonderful and I talk to them or Lynda about any issues or problems I might be having, educational or personal.” She loves the way Kelly teaches Med Term 1, her favorite class so far, because she explains the subject matter in detail and makes sure you understand how it applies. When asked where she wants to be in 5 years she was quick to answer. “Out of my parent’s house and into my stable career. I love my parents deeply but I’m ready to start the next chapter.”

When asked if she would recommend United to somebody else, Gaby said, “Absolutely! The whole staff there are so helpful in every way, and they truly care about me as a student, but more importantly as a person.“

To learn more about United Career Institute’s family atmosphere and fast track training, click here!