Kelly Shriver – Staff Highlight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To learn more about United Career Institute, request information here!

Southwestern Gastrointestinal Specialists – Externship Highlight

United Career Institute is excited to introduce you to one of our externship sites, Southwestern Gastrointestinal Specialists (SWGI).

Southwestern Gastrointestinal Specialists has been in business for 29 years and specializes in helping their patients lose weight. They are a four physician, six physician’s assistant practice, and their goal is to help their patients understand how and why they gain weight so that they can lose it and keep it off. Their services include a structured plan and guidance and support from a personal weight loss coach.

SWGI is happy to share that the climate for their business is good right now. “We are a very busy practice,” says externship site coordinator, Toni Shearer.

The value that United Career Institute students get from an externship with SWGI Specialists is simple, and the thing that all students are looking for from an externship site…hands-on experience.

The United Career Institute externship program doesn’t just offer value to United students; it is also beneficial for the employer partner. “Having students from United creates a good relationship with the school and the community, which helps with recruitment in the future. We have hired several of the students who have externed with us,” says Shearer.

We are happy to report that Shearer believes the five-year business outlook for SWGI Specialists to be very positive, and United is excited to continue building a relationship with this dynamic employer.

Shearer has some excellent advice for students looking to further their education. She says, “Continuing education is always a big decision. It is not the right path for everyone, but if you have the opportunity to further your education, no matter what field you choose, do it. Knowledge is power!”

To learn more about United’s externship program or if you are interested in getting the training you need to work at a place like SWGI Specialists, request information here!

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.

Flores and Flores Medical Associates – Externship Highlight

At United Career Institute Mt. Braddock, we pride ourselves on offering our students hands-on, real world experience prior to graduation. An integral component of that is our externship program, which occurs in the last 12 weeks of a student’s program. This exciting part of our curriculum would not be possible without the help of our wonderful industry partners. Read on to learn more about one of these companies!

Flores and Flores Medical Associates is a primary care physician’s office located in Uniontown, PA. They have been in business for over 20 years and specialize in emergency medicine, family medicine, and internal medicine.

United Career Institute students can expect a well-rounded training experiencing if they extern at Flores and Flores. Melissa Stevenson, the site coordinator, said, “We allow United students to get hands-on training on almost every single aspect of working in a doctor’s office – both front and back staff positions.” She continued, “Our staff enjoys teaching and sharing their knowledge with our externs. They also appreciate the help that students provide in return, making our employees’ days go easier.”

United students love the externship portion of their program for many reasons. For starters, the hands-on experience they receive solidifies the skills they have been taught throughout their program and gives them the confidence they need to apply those skills in a real word environment. Another reason the externship is such an exciting experience is the potential for a job offering at the end of it. While not all of our industry partners are in a position to hire after externship, some can be, and who better to hire than somebody you just trained for 12 weeks? Regardless of whether or not an externship ends with a job opportunity, it still serves as a wonderful experience and a resume booster.

 United Career Institute looks forward to continuing our partnership with Flores and Flores as they hope to grow their practice in the next five. Melissa says, “We are looking to add more mid-level providers and staff to support them.”

Melissa’s advice to anybody entering a new educational journey is this: “Learn as much as you can in your classes and definitely take advantage of your time as an extern. Externships are a great way to bridge using what you learn in the class with how to apply it in the real world setting. Ask the staff at your externship questions, so you can learn tips that you can possibly apply in your future job.”

To learn more about United Career Institute’s externship program, 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!

Meet The Campus Director – Ali Rachel

Meet Ali Rachel, Campus Director at United Career Institute in Fayette County!

In her new role as Campus Director, Ali is driven by the opportunity she has to help people every day when she goes to work. “I really, really believe in what we do. I really believe in career schools. Not everyone fits into one box. I want to be there for students who don’t fit into the four-year university box,” said Ali.

Ali has a great philosophy on helping students achieve their career goals, and that is to treat each student as an individual. She believes it’s extremely important to stop and understand each person’s unique story, how they learn, and how they interact with others. By truly understanding who each person is and where they come from, you can figure out what motivates them and how you can really help them be successful.

This philosophy on helping students is what enables each student at United to be treated as an individual person, with a supportive and caring environment that empowers them to succeed.

Ali loves many things about her role as Campus Director, but her favorite parts of the job are definitely the little things like “when I see a happy student in the hallway and they are really happy to be at school. For me, it’s all about the wins in students’ lives, like one student who was working in fast food and recently got a job at a nursing home.”

As for her own experience with higher education, Ali went to the University of Alabama and studied marketing. She then went on to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles and studied merchandise marketing. Ali has always loved fashion and even used to collect Vogue magazines.

While enrolled in college at Alabama, Ali interned in the marketing department at West Virginia Junior College. After she graduated, a marketing position became available, so she started full-time in the marketing department then.

Ali made the decision to accept the position as Campus Director at United because she wanted to be more involved in the day-to-day operations of the school. With Campus Director Pam Hughes getting a promotion, there was an opening that needed to be filled, and Ali jumped on this opportunity to help and empower students every day.

With the continued growth of the medical field and the current COVID-19 pandemic, Ali believes there is a need for well-trained medical professionals in Fayette County. “With our focus on medical programs, we can be truly centered on medical training. Our career-focused programs are quick, so we can get people trained faster and out into the working world.”

Ali has some amazing advice for students who are thinking about attending United Career Institute. “You will be treated as an individual and not just a number. There is so much that goes into going to school, and it can seem very intimidating, but we can work through it together if you ask for help. Don’t be intimidated and don’t be afraid to make that first step.”

For high schoolers who are considering United, Ali says, “don’t be afraid to try something different. Many high schools preach to students about going to a four-year college, but that’s not right for everyone. Education can mean many things, not just a four-year institution.”

When asked what gets her up in the morning and motivates her to do her best each day, Ali said that it’s “my students and co-workers that motivate me. My co-workers really care about what they’re doing. They love to be here and that really helps me stay motivated. It can be really hard and exhausting, but it’s worth it to help people create a better future for themselves.”

The accomplishment in Ali’s life that she is most proud of is graduating college. She believes that education is a privilege, and she wants to help facilitate that privilege for as many people as possible. Many people never have the opportunity to go to college, so it’s something she takes very seriously.

When asked about the best advice she has received, Ali shared a quote that really resonates with her: “At all times people are doing one of two things – they are showing love or crying out for it.” Ali believes that when someone is acting a certain way, we should try and peel back the layers and find out why, so that we can truly help them on an individual level.

Outside of work, Ali loves watching college football and says her life is currently consumed by it. In the summer, Ali and her fiancé Zach enjoy going out on the boat and spending time on the lake. Ali and Zach also love to cook. She says she loves anything to do with food and could spend hours reading recipes and cooking. Ali says her favorite food is pasta in any form. That’s what she reaches to for comfort food or if she doesn’t know what to make. If she could have one superpower, Ali says she would choose teleportation because she doesn’t like to drive and it’s frustrating for her.

Are you looking for a school that truly cares about you? Do you want to graduate and start working quickly? Explore our healthcare training programs and request information today to get started!

Q&A With Kelli Workman

What is your educational background?

My educational background is an Associate Degree in Medical Assisting, Licensed Practical Nurse, and Certified Postsecondary Instructor. All of which I earned at United Career Institute.

What are some of your prior work experiences?

My prior work experiences are at Flores and Flores Medical Associates, Maxim Healthcare, Henry Clay Villa, and Harmon House Care Center.

What is your current role at United Career Institute?

My current role at United is the Allied Health Coordinator

Why did you choose to work at United Career Institute?

I chose to work at United because teaching has been a passion of mine since I was a student. I always enjoyed helping fellow classmates with assignments and studying.

What is your favorite part of working for United Career Institute?

My favorite part about working at United is the friendly atmosphere and the sense of family among staff. Also, watching the students grow. You watch them come in during orientation and they are nervous and shy. Then as their journey progresses, you observe them transform into confident, self-assured health care professionals. Going through this life-changing event with them is very rewarding.

What, or who motivates you and why?

The things that motivate me the most are my children.  Also, my students, it warms my heart to see them succeed.

The best book I have ever read is “The First Day of the Rest of My Life” by Cathy Lamb. It showcases the empowerment of overcoming emotional and physical pain through traumatic events. It demonstrates that even the darkest times can’t be shadowed by faith, determination, and strength.

I am most proud of my children. They are my world. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

My long term goal is to earn my BSN.

5 Steps to Starting an Essential Healthcare Career

Healthcare workers are essential to the health and wellbeing of our society, and now is a great time to start your career in the exciting field of healthcare. The medical industry is projected to have continued growth in the future, so this could be a wonderful career option for you.

Trying to figure out the right path to start your dream career as an essential healthcare worker can be confusing, so we’ve broken it down into five steps for you!

Step 1: Choose a specific healthcare job

Choosing the specific job you want to pursue in the medical field is the first step to starting an essential healthcare career. As the healthcare industry has become more specialized over time, there are a variety of different jobs and career paths available for people who want to work in this exciting field. You could be a medical assistant, medical coding specialist, practical nurse, or even a doctor.

Answering a few important questions about yourself with help steer you in the right direction as you consider the different career options and decide which one is best for you.

  • Which areas of healthcare am I interested in?
  • What are my strengths and what do I excel in?
  • What healthcare experience do I already have?
  • How quickly do I want to complete training and start working?

Your work will be more enjoyable if you choose a career path that you’re interested in and good at. Answering these questions for yourself is important as you make these decisions, because we all want to love our job!

There are different training options for different types of healthcare jobs, so knowing how long you want to attend school and how soon you want to start your career will help you make the right decision for you. For example, if you want to become a medical office specialist, you can get the training you need in less than two years, but if you want to become a doctor, you will have to spend many more years in school.

Step 2: Pick a training program that meets your needs

The next step in starting your essential healthcare career is to choose a career training program that meets your needs and trains you for the specific job you want to do. You will need to do some research on the type of training needed for the job you want, as different career paths require different types of training.

Some healthcare positions also require professional certifications that show you can perform the specific tasks and job duties required. Employers value these certifications because they want to provide high-quality care to their patients. As you explore different options for earning your degree and getting trained, look for one that includes everything you need to be successful in your exciting new essential healthcare career.

At United Career Institute, our healthcare training programs can be completed in less than two years, putting you on the fast track to your dream career as an essential healthcare worker. If you’re ready to begin your healthcare career quickly, without having to spend 4-6 years in school, our career-focused programs may be a great choice for you!

Step 3: Gain the skills and knowledge to succeed

After deciding on the specific healthcare job you want to pursue and the best career training program to get you there, you’re now ready to learn the knowledge and hands-on skills you need to succeed. Reach out to your school of choice and set up a time to meet with an admissions advisor and take a tour of the campus. This will give you the chance to make sure it’s the right school for you and ask any questions you may have about the school, the program, and your classes.

As you complete your chosen career training program, you will gain the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to excel in your career as an essential worker in healthcare. If the healthcare training program you choose offers preparation for professional certification, you will also prepare to sit for the certification tests.

To help you get on the fast track of your exciting new career as an essential healthcare worker, we offer numerous healthcare career training programs at United. With career-focused programs in Practical Nursing, Medical Assisting, and Medical Insurance Billing and Coding, you can gain the skills and experience needed to start your new career in less than two years.

Step 4: Apply for jobs and start your essential healthcare career

Now that you’ve completed the training needed to qualify for your dream job as an essential healthcare worker, it’s time to start applying for jobs. Some of the medical facilities you could work for include hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices, labs, long-term care facilities, and blood centers.

Before you begin applying to jobs, update your resume with all the new skills, education, certifications, and experience you have gained while preparing for your new medical career. Add any other relevant education and experience to your resume as well and have someone proofread it for you to ensure it’s free of any errors.

Practice your interview skills with a friend or family member, so you will be confident and ready to rock your future job interviews. Begin building positive relationships with members of your local healthcare community, as this will also help you when applying for jobs.

Step 5: Start now with United

You’re now ready to start your path to becoming an essential healthcare worker! With fast-track career training programs, certification preparation, a supportive environment, hands-on learning, and career services, United is the perfect place to prepare for your exciting new healthcare career.

Explore our career training programs and request information now to get started!

Medical Assisting Program Students Learn Hands-On Skills for Phlebotomy Blood Draws

United Career Institute Medical Assisting program students learn the proper phlebotomy technique for drawing a patient’s blood.

Phlebotomy is an essential skill for students to learn and practice in their medical assistant classes because drawing blood is a very common procedure in medical facilities. If you’ve ever had blood drawn yourself, you know how important it is to have someone skilled in phlebotomy doing the procedure.

There are a variety of reasons a patient may need to have blood drawn. Getting blood tests to check for diseases and certain conditions is a common reason, along with donating blood to help others who are in need.

Gaining the knowledge and experience for hands-on skills like phlebotomy while attending a medical assisting training program sets students up for career success after graduation. Students who practice hands-on skills can provide a better experience for patients once they are on the job.

Medical assistants are vital members of the healthcare team because of their wide-ranging knowledge and skills. In addition to drawing blood, medical assisting professionals perform many other essential tasks, such as taking vital signs, assisting with physical exams, performing certain lab tests, assisting with simple surgeries, and giving injections.

At United Career Institute, our Medical Assisting program trains students in these critical areas and more, setting them up for success in their healthcare careers.

While completing their medical assisting degree classes at United, students prepare for valuable certifications, making them more marketable to potential employers when applying for jobs.

With hands-on phlebotomy training from qualified instructors like in this video demonstration, students have the opportunity to sit for the Certified Phlebotomy Technician* certification while completing United’s Medical Assisting program.

Are you ready to jump-start your healthcare career by learning valuable hands-on skills? Explore our Medical Assisting program today to get on the fast track to an exciting new career. Request information now to get started!

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

Jennifer George – Graduate Highlight

Jennifer George had been working as a hospital tech in Latrobe and Westmoreland Hospital through Excela Health for two and a half years when she started her conquest to find the perfect school to further her healthcare education. However, she, like many of our students, did not have any postsecondary education experience and wasn’t sure where to look. Fortunately, Jennifer’s co-workers and former UCI graduates were happy to point her in the right direction. Through the interview and admissions process, Jennifer realized that she had made the right choice. When asked why, she stated “I was so nervous and scared and the staff and instructors made the transition an easy experience. They were awesome.”Jennifer Georgen - Graduate Highlight

When asked why she chose her program of study Jennifer stated, “I knew that it was only one year and that in one year I would be working doing something that I have always loved and this would help me work my way towards entering the LPN program.”

Jennifer stated that the best part of attending UCI was that “the teachers treat you like you are one of them, always with open arms no matter what you are struggling with. They take the time to help you understand the material no matter what it takes.” Jennifer said that her favorite instructor was Kelli Workman. “If I wasn’t confident in myself she was always cheering me on and letting me know that I could do it. I just had to have faith in myself.” Her favorite classes were her clinical courses instructed by Jade Teets.

Jennifer’s short term goal is to return to United for the Practical Nursing program. She has already been accepted into the 2020 fall class. Jennifer is still gainfully employed through Excela Health. When asked where she sees herself in five years, Jennifer said, “I am working as nurse with the help of all the nursing instructors at United Career Institute.” When asked if she would refer a friend, she said, “yes, and I already have. Some of my coworkers are now interested in the school’s Practical Nursing Program. This is by far the greatest school.”

To learn more about United’s Practical Nursing program, request info here!