Quiz: How Well Do You Know Your Medical Instruments?

Jun 26 2018

Are you a die-hard Scrubs fan? Or maybe you prefer House? Or are you possibly related to someone who works in the medical field? Test your knowledge of common medical tools and see how you do! One question in particular will probably trip you up!

How did you do? We want to see how you did, so share your results with us on Facebook! If you’re interested in learning more about our Medical Assistant Program, contact us and we’ll help answer your questions!

How to Become a Medical Assistant

Jun 12 2018

If your dream is to become a medical assistant, the process can be broken down into a few simple steps:

  1. Graduate high school or earn GED
  2. Get your medical assistant education
  3. Pass the medical assistant licensing exam
  4. Apply for medical assistant positions

Becoming a medical assistant can be a challenging task. You will have to set goals and work hard to reach your dream of becoming a medical assistant, and Pittsburgh Career Institute is here to support you every step of the way. Here’s a breakdown for each of the steps in the process to help you:

1. Graduate High School/Earn GED

Finishing your high school education provides an essential foundation for you to be successful as a medical assistant. Most medical assistant programs will require you to have this education completed before you start the program. Most employers will require this education as well, so make sure you do your homework, ask your teachers for help when needed, and do extra credit work so you can graduate high school!

We understand that traditional schooling isn’t easy for everyone, so the fortunate news about medical assistant programs is that your high school grades often don’t factor into your program eligibility. We’ve found that a medical assisting education can suit people of all learning types, and we strive to help our students to individually succeed,utilizing methods of instruction that work with many styles of learning.

2. Get Your Medical Assistant Education

Completing your medical assistant education may be the most challenging and rewarding step in the whole process. You can choose from vocational schools or even community colleges for a program that suits your schedule and needs. Some programs can be taken during the day, night/weekends, full time, part time, or even online. Each program can provide different certifications or even a degree as well. PCI offers a Medical Assistant diploma program that can allow you to become a licensed medical assistant in as little as 10 months. Other programs can take much more than a year, though some of them can help you earn an associates degree. We’ve developed our Medical Assistant program as a diploma program because we’ve found that our students prefer to graduate with their new hands-on skills as soon as possible and jump into the workplace as soon as possible.

Your medical assisting education will likely cover a wide range of topics to help prepare you to work in the healthcare field. Basic clinical skills make up the core of the program at PCI, and include the following skills:

  • Medical Histories
  • Patient education
  • Taking vital signs
  • Echocardiograms
  • Injections
  • Phlebotomy
  • Lab specimens
  • and much more!

Some of these topics can be intimidating to students, which is why our Medical Assistant program director, Sherri Steele, is dedicated to helping students learn and be successful. Our recent blog about Sherri even tells the story of a student who was struggling with learning injections. Sherri invited the student into her office so that the student could practice injections on Sherri’s own arm until she felt confident in this new skill! This example of going above and beyond shows that investing time and extra effort in our teaching is a way of life at PCI.

3. Pass the Medical Assistant Licensing Exam

Each state has unique laws regarding medical assistant licenses. Pennsylvania, for example, doesn’t actually require medical assistants to be certified, but some employers require their employees to be licensed. The licensing exam is important for students to pass because it will improve their job outlook and can help make their resumes more robust.

The medical assistant certification exam itself is similar to other standardized tests that you may have taken before. The exam asks 200 multiple choice questions, and excludes 20 of those questions randomly after the test is completed. The minimum passing grade is adjusted every three years or so by the American Association of Medical Assistants, so be sure to consult with your instructor to make sure you’re prepared.

4. Apply for Medical Assistant Positions

The next step is to begin your journey as a professional medical assistant! Applying for available positions can be competitive, but we’re committed to helping you stand out from the competition. PCI’s Career Services department can help you to craft a quality resume, provide guidance on performing well at interviews, and even help you discover job opportunities! Some common workplaces for medical assistants include:

  • Hospitals
  • Physician’s offices
  • Chiropractor’s offices
  • Urgent care facilities
  • Outpatient facilities
  • Insurance companies
  • and many more!

PCI strives to prepare students to be outstanding medical assistants, and part of that is helping ours find externship opportunities so they may develop real-world experience before they’ve even graduated. Visit our career services page for more information on how PCI can help you transition from being a student to a professional medical assistant.

Learn With PCI

Medical assistants have been in demand and have been projected to stay in demand for many years to come, so now is the time to get started on a career that could support you throughout a long career! Our staff and faculty are committed to helping you be successful as a student and as a graduate. Contact us to learn more about our medical assistant program today!

PCI Day at Kennywood – August 16

Jun 05 2018

PCI Day at the Ballpark – July 11

Jun 04 2018

Summer Open House – June 16

Jun 01 2018

Meet the Staff: Sherri Steele, Medical Assistant Diploma Program Director

May 21 2018

We recently announced our new Medical Assistant diploma program, so this month we are featuring the wonderful woman building the foundations of the program, Sherri Steele. Sherri is the director of both our Medical Billing and Coding and Medical Assistant diploma programs, and she is phenomenal! She is a huge part of what makes PCI a family where we lift each other up and help one another succeed.

About Sherri Steele

Ms. Steele wasn’t always in the medical field like she is today. She initially attended school for accounting and quickly discovered that it wasn’t a job that would allow her to be social! She found a job working as a purchasing manager that she mostly enjoyed, but when she started a family of her own, things changed and she could no longer travel long distances or work long hours like she used to. She saw a commercial for medical assisting and decided to look into it for herself.

For Sherri, the rest is history! She fell in love with medical assisting right away and has made a long and impressive career out of it. She worked as a medical assistant for several years after graduating from her program. The former dean at the school Sherri attended told her that she would make for an excellent teacher, so she began teaching! Sherri taught for nearly a decade at the school that would later become Pittsburgh Career Institute as the director of the school. When that school closed down, she went into urology and worked there for about five years until PCI reached out to her to welcome her back. She started with us in October of 2017 as our Program Director of Medical Assisting and Medical Billing and Coding. We’re glad to have a member of the PCI family back!


PCI’s New Medical Assistant Diploma Program

With our new Medical Assistant diploma program on the horizon, Sherri has played an instrumental role in ensuring that this program strives to be an excellent curriculum that prepares students to be clinically trained. This new program is exciting because it removes all of the nonessential requirements that might come with a full-length medical assistant degree program. There are no general education classes to bog students down; we teach only medical assisting instruction and help students prepare for the job market right after graduation!

PCI’s Medical Assisting program was once an Associate’s Degree program, but after meeting with medical assistant employers, they made it clear that a degree doesn’t matter as much to them as the students having the hands-on skills required to do the job. Our students are now trained with an emphasis on job skills that can help them be prepared to work as successful entry-level medical assistants right after graduation!

When asked about the quality of education and how it prepares students for professional careers, Sherri explained:

”Students are clinically trained here and I would match them against students from any other program. When students get hired, their employers call to tell us that our students are clinically trained and ready to go. We teach our students with a real-world perspective, giving them a chance to practice real-world skills. We don’t just drop them to figure it out on their own. Many students come back to PCI to learn more because once they get into it they are really excited.”

Sherri is so passionate about her students that she goes above and beyond to ensure that they are prepared to meet the demands of the field. For example, students at other schools might use oranges or other analogues to practice drawing blood and handling needles, but at PCI our students eventually learn to practice on one another. It’s real-world experience that helps our students make a natural transition from being a student to a professional! Sherri is so driven to help her students succeed that when one student was struggling with drawing blood, she invited to student into her office to practice on her! Sherri is humble and passionate enough to help her students in any way that they need, and it shows!

Why Sherri Chose to Teach at PCI

When Sherri came back to PCI to interview for the Program Director position, she was met by many old friends and colleagues from when she was teaching at the former school before it closed. For her it felt like she was coming home, as if everyone was saying “Finally, we have Sherri back!” The family feeling and culture at PCI is what makes it stand apart, and it’s why Sherri wants to work with us until her retirement – and we’re thrilled to have her with us!

Advice for New Students

If you’re still trying to decide if medical assisting is the right career for you, Sherri encourages you to visit the school! Medical assisting is perfect for certain kinds of people, and visiting the school can help you make the choice. She says:

”I need to be a people person. Allied health is all about other people. Some are sick or hurting, and there’s a lot going on. We can give you students to talk to, people from outside the school, experts, or anyone else who can help you make your decision. The job market for medical assistants is awesome. I’ve never seen it where MAs are not needed, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. This industry has grown tremendously!”

Visit Pittsburgh Career Institute

Making the jump into a medical career isn’t always an easy one, but the faculty and staff at Pittsburgh Career Institute are here to help you every step of the way! If you visit the school and decide that medical assisting isn’t the ideal choice for you, we have many other programs that you can investigate to find the perfect match for what you’re looking for. Contact us today for more information on our Medical Assistant diploma program or to schedule your tour!

Medical Assistant Diploma Program Coming in July!

May 03 2018

Pittsburgh Career Institute (PCI) is pleased to announce our new 10-month Medical Assistant diploma program! Medical assisting is a fast-paced, exciting medical career that many people around the country love. It provides the opportunity to help people and make a positive difference in the lives of many. July 30th is our first start date for the new program, so start making plans for yourself now!

What do Medical Assistants Do?

Many people confuse Medical Assistants with nurses because they fill similar roles in the medical field. Medical assistants perform both clinical and administrative functions alongside physicians and other medical professionals. Medical Assistants often take vital signs, administer injections, collect and prepare lab specimens, perform tests like echocardiograms, and much more! They also typically handle administrative duties such as phone calls, processing insurance information, and maintaining patient records. The major difference between nurses and Medical Assistants is that nurses tend to work in hospitals, administering care to patients while Medical Assistants often work in clinics with a blend of clinical and administrative responsibilities.

What Career Options do Medical Assistants Have?

Medical Assistants typically have a wide range of career options after graduation! They can work in hospitals, physicians offices, chiropractors offices, urgent care facilities, outpatient facilities, insurance companies, and many more! If you have an interest in the medical field, a Medical Assistant diploma could be a way for you to explore many different opportunities!

Check out our program page to learn more!

Outlook for Medical Assistants

Compared to most other careers, the outlook for Medical Assistants is incredibly bright! The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that there will be over 183,000 new job opportunities by 2026. The aging baby-boomer population will continue to increase demand for preventative medical services, which in turn will likely cause a significant increase in the demand for all types of medical personnel. If you’re looking for a career that has great potential for future stability, medical assisting could be perfect for you!

Is Medical Assisting Right For You?

Medical assisting is a great way for many people to find a career in which they can truly better themselves. Strong medical assistants enjoy a healthy mix of tasks each day, helping other people, and gracefully handling stressful situations. The best Medical Assistants excel at working with other people and have a pleasant, calming effect on the people around them. If you’re looking into becoming a Medical Assistant, or are interested in the medical field, contact PCI – we’ll be happy to help you determine if this is a good career fit for you. If medical assisting isn’t the right fit for you, we have various other healthcare-oriented programs to which you may be better suited.

Learn More Today!

Join the first class of students in the new Medical Assistant diploma program! Our first day of class begins on July 30th, so there’s no time to waste! If you are interested in learning more, or would like to tour the school for yourself, call us at 412-281-2600 or fill out the form above!

Meet the Staff: Peggy Brinton, Respiratory Therapy Program Director

Apr 20 2018

At Pittsburgh Career Institute, we aren’t just coworkers and classmates, we’re family. Peggy Brinton joined the PCI family to build our Respiratory Therapy program, and she’s done an outstanding job! We’re thrilled to have her with us, so we took the time this month to chat with Peggy and get to know her better!

About Peggy

Before learning about Respiratory Therapy, Peggy originally worked in property management for 11 years. At one point during her career, her father became sick and was in and out of hospitals. Peggy noticed that some of the medical personnel were kind, but others were not the nicest. This experience caused her to ask herself if she wanted to be in real estate for the rest of her life. She decided that she would rather make a difference and build a career out of helping other people!

Peggy was initially interested in a career in medical assisting. When she inquired about medical assisting, she was referred to Respiratory Therapy instead because of her strong math and science background. Peggy took the plunge and entered the exciting and fulfilling world of Respiratory Therapy almost 14 years ago, and has loved every minute of it!

After completing her studies in Respiratory Therapy, she began working with babies in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). She absolutely loved working with the newborns, and during this time she also had the opportunity to teach Respiratory Therapy courses while the regular instructor was on leave. She worked up to being a permanent adjunct at the hospital after teaching three different courses at another school. Peggy was referred to us at PCI as an outstanding candidate for the Respiratory Therapy Program Director position, so we contacted her! Peggy knew she would miss taking care of the babies in the NICU, but she also knew that she could have a greater impact by educating and training future Respiratory Therapists – so she joined PCI as Respiratory Therapy Program Director/Instructor and was later named the school’s Assistant Director of Education.

Peggy’s Role at PCI

As our Respiratory Therapy Program Director, Peggy has the responsibility of overseeing PCI’s Respiratory Therapy program as well as instructing. She said it was initially very challenging, but within several months, Peggy was able to make significant improvements to the program – a never-ending effort that continues today.

When asked about what makes her program stand out, Peggy says:

”Dedication has been required for me to make this course successful. This field is my passion, and I love it so much! It has been extremely rewarding to me. The students who are coming in could be treating me someday, so I want my students to graduate as the best of the best!”


Peggy had the option of staying at the hospital and working in the Neonatal ICU with the babies she loved, but instead she chose to teach at PCI. When asked why she would make that choice, she said that she could sense a passion for education and Respiratory Therapy at PCI. She knew that she was going to be in the right environment! The thing Peggy loves most about PCI is the students. She enjoys watching them grow from unsure, nervous freshmen into critical thinkers. Being a part of that evolution is incredibly rewarding!

Advice for Students

Peggy’s biggest piece of advice for potential students is for them to research Respiratory Therapy and your various career options after graduation. You can work in the ICU like Peggy, a doctor’s office, hospital, in home care, or even in a sleep lab. There are so many options out there! If you’re uncertain, Peggy recommends that you shadow a Respiratory Therapist at a local hospital or sit in on a class to see what it’s like. Don’t just jump in until you’re sure about the choice you’re making!

Join the PCI Family

Are you still trying to decide if Respiratory Therapy is the right career choice for you? Check out our recent blog about everything you need to know about Respiratory Therapy. It’s a great resource that can help you make that choice. If you want to learn more about our Respiratory Therapy program, reach out to us!