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!

Kelly Shriver – Medical Program Director Highlight

Meet Kelly Shriver, the medical program director at our United Career Institute Irwin campus! Kelly is in charge of the Medical Assisting, Medical Insurance Billing and Coding, and Phlebotomy programs. Her journey began at the Indiana County Technology Center where, in 2012, she received her diploma in Medical Assisting. After that, she attended Robert Morris University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Health Service Administration.

Before joining the United Career Institute team, Kelly worked for Excela Health for almost seven years. She started there as a Medical Assistant in the Neurology practice, and then moved to a family practice where she stayed for two years. She then worked as a Quality Coordinator for a year. After that, Kelly held the title of OET Specialist and OET Team Lead while working in the Organization, Education, and Training Team. For two years, she taught courses in the evening for the Medical Assisting program at the Indiana County Technology Center’s New Stanton Campus.

Kelly Shriver-Medical Program Director Highlight

Kelly has been with United Career Institute for almost a year now. When asked why she chose to work at United, Kelly responded, “At Excela I was responsible for training new employees and I got the itch to teach again. When I saw the position I knew I had to apply. After interviewing I got to see the true family nature UCI had and that is when I knew it was the place for me.”

Kelly often gets asked what the classes are like by her students. She tells them that it varies depending on the instructor, but each class is unique. She tries to reassure the students that United will be able to provide them the necessary tools to be successful in their classes. Some will be more difficult than others, but they will be able to get through them!

We asked Kelly why she recommends that students consider going into the medical field. She responded, “The medical field is always going to be there. People will always need healthcare. Choosing to enter the medical field is a great career choice because there are so many options available to you.” To be successful, Kelly suggests learning to be compassionate. You will interact with patients of all different kinds of backgrounds and health statuses. She also recommends showing a willingness to learn. Being flexible and able to adapt are useful characteristics.

Kelly is proudest of achieving her dream of earning a Bachelor’s degree. “I was able to get my degree while working two jobs and having a baby. It wasn’t easy to balance everything, but it never stopped me. I was determined to get it.” Her daughter Harper motivates her. “I want her to see that anything she puts her mind to is possible.”

Something interesting that not many people know about Kelly is that she always wanted to be a special education teacher. She knew in the fourth grade that it was something she really wanted. Although she didn’t choose that career path, she did know that she wanted to help people.

To learn more about United’s healthcare programs, 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!

 

Wendi Rost – Student Highlight

“I wanted to go for Medical Assisting when I was just out of high school. However, I was living with my fiancé at the time and could not afford the class. When I decided to go back and went for coding, I didn’t have faith in my skills or brains to even think I could do the assisting part because of the clinicals. I was and still am terrified of that part. However I thought it’s now or never and if I don’t try, I won’t know.” We would like to introduce Wendi Rost, a medical assisting student attending our Irwin campus.Wendi Rose - Student Highlight

Before enrolling at United in January, Wendi was a stay at home mom. She had previously attended other post secondary schools for Esthetics and Medical Billing and Coding. She had some great experiences, but one thing she did not like about Medical Billing and Coding was that a majority of her classes were online. Wendi chose the United Career Institute because of the Irwin location and its hands-on training. “I’m old school. I like a classroom.”

When asked what her favorite part of going to school at United Career Institute is, Wendi responded by saying, “Oh I absolutely love going to United Career. Currently, we are smaller, but the students are very mature for their ages. I am so happy to be around people who take this seriously and know when to have fun. We are like a family, instructors, and all. We laugh, cry, and learn without pressure.”

Wendi’s favorite class so far has been Medical Terminology. She feels like she is learning to talk professionally in the medical field. When asked who her favorite instructor is, Wendi replied, “Kelly, Erin, and Arnold are all my favorites so far. I can’t say that there is an absolute favorite. They all have different teaching styles. However they are always there to talk to, or ask for help if you’re not understanding or to give you a pep talk if you’re feeling overwhelmed.”

After graduating from the Medical Assisting program, Wendi has a few different directions in medical field that she may want to pursue. “I have three fields that interest me, and that’s because I like helping people with their problems or watching them succeed.  Dermatology, since my field of esthetics has been a passion. Gynecology because ever since I was young, I always wanted to be a female doctor since, at the time there weren’t many, and I personally prefer a female.  Finally, Bariatric. This is one I like to see the results and hopefully get motivation for myself.”

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

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!

Lynda Mayes – Staff Highlight

“My favorite part of working for United Career is being a part of a group that makes you feel like family. That includes both the staff and the students!” –Lynda Mayes

Lynda Mayes - Staff Highlight

Lynda Mayes is the Admissions Advisor at United Career Institute in Irwin. As an Admissions Advisor, Lynda helps potential students find their right education path. A large part of her job involves guiding students through any life obstacles they may have. It’s not uncommon to walk by her office and see her talking with her current students. Whether its school related or personal, Lynda always makes a large effort to help the student keep their eye on the prize!

Lynda has a Bachelor of Science in Administrative Management from Robert Morris University. After graduating she started working at the Westmoreland County Prison. She worked there for three years as a Records Clerk and then moved on to work at the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County (MAWC). Lynda worked there for nineteen and a half years, working her way up from a Collections Clerk all the way up to a Field Service Super Intendant. During that time, she was managing over sixty-five employees, and was able to complete her Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership at Robert Morris University.

Lynda is motivated by her mother. She says her mother has always encouraged and supported her in her decisions. “Because of her support I want to show the same love and respect towards her by doing the best that I can do.” She is most proud of her family, not only because of their ability to deal with difficult times, but because they always find a way to support each other while doing it.

Lynda’s long term career goals include getting her Ph.D. She would like to get involved in teaching leadership coaching to college students and adults. “It’s important for anyone going into a career to develop leadership and skills to be successful.”

 

Leah Judge – Student Highlight

United Career Institute Medical Assisting student, Leah Judge, has always had dreams of working in the medical field. “I enjoy my job waitressing at a great restaurant in Greensburg, but my passion for the medical field kept picking at my brain. It just so happened that I was talking with a customer who ran a local school and he invited me and my mother down to see it, and it was exactly what I was looking for.” United Career Institute gave Leah the opportunity to pursue her dream. Leah loves helping people, and United’s Medical Assisting program gives her the opportunity to do just that. She is an awesome addition to our student body!

Leah Judge-Student Highlight

Leah tried the traditional route of attending the local community college, but that was not her idea of learning. The campus was too large, the classes made her feel like just another number, and individual help was never available. She also disliked the idea of having to take a lot of general education courses to reach her goal.

Leah’s favorite class so far has been Medical Terminology I because she likes learning all the new concepts. Her favorite instructor, Kelly Shriver, breaks down the learning material so it’s easier to understand. After graduation, Leah sees herself working in a specialty office, possibly specializing in dermatology. Five years from now, Leah wants to be well into her career and maybe even have her boyfriend become her husband.

Leah says she wouldn’t hesitate for a second recommending United Career Institute to anyone else because it provided her everything she hoped and dreamed of in a school. Leah has the distinction of being the very first student to enroll at UCI Irwin, and we can’t wait to see all that she accomplishes on her journey toward a medical career!

New Year, New Career – Irwin

With the start of a new year, it’s the perfect time to evaluate and plan your next career move. Maybe you’re just starting out in your career and are unsure of what steps to take to get your dream job. Or maybe you feel stuck in your current job, but don’t know what to do to advance your career.

We’re here to help you get from where you are to where you want to be! As you set your New Year’s resolutions and goals, you can plan steps for yourself that will get you into a new, fulfilling career.

Check out the steps below to get started on your new career today!

Get Motivated

Before you can make a change or accomplish something great for yourself, you have to get motivated! Motivation is the reason that someone behaves in a particular way. It’s what gets you up in the morning and what encourages you to keep going when things get challenging. Getting motivated is essential for launching yourself into a new career.

In order to get yourself motivated, you need to know what it is that inspires and motivates you. Different people are motivated by different things, so ask yourself what exactly it is for you. For example, you may be motivated to create a better life for your family. After you figure out what drives you forward, keep this in mind as you set your goals, and let it inspire you in your daily life.

Learn New Skills

Now you’re motivated and ready to jump start your new career, but how do you do it? What specifically can you do today that will set you up for success? The answer to this question is to learn new skills! The professional world is constantly changing and if you’re not learning new skills, you can become stagnant in your career. That’s why gaining new skills, knowledge, and experiences are the best way to get you into a better career.

To help you achieve your career goals, we designed our healthcare training programs to give you the exact skills and knowledge employers need in job candidates. At United Career Institute, you will learn in a hands-on environment and have opportunities for real-world application with externships and clinicals.

Update Your Resume

Next, you need to update your resume to ensure you’re giving potential employers the most current information about your education, skills, and previous experiences. When crafting your resume, make sure it’s modern and professional, so you stand out from the crowd of candidates. Check out this previous blog post sharing our Top 5 Resume Tips to Get Noticed!

If you’ve already decided you want to learn new skills, feel free to add your current school and program to your resume. This shows potential employers you are serious about your career and working to achieve more. Just be sure to make it clear that you are still currently enrolled in a training program.

Start Your Job Search

You may think it’s too early to start your job search while still in school or attending a training program, but that’s exactly when you need to start! Begin by making a list of your ideal employers and researching their current job openings, hiring processes, and hiring managers. Follow these companies on social media and review their websites as well.

Once you have done this, you’ll have a much better idea of what it takes to get hired by each specific employer. Feel free to reach out to your top companies with questions you may have, as this will help you get to know the hiring process and company culture. Then, when you’re ready to apply for your new dream job, you will be one step closer!

Put Your Career on the Fast Track with United

Ready to launch yourself into a great new career now? Gain hands-on skills, knowledge, and real-world experience at United Career Institute. Learn more about our programs in Practical Nursing, Medical Assisting, Medical Office Administration, and Phlebotomy today. Request information now to get started!