Externship Success

After students complete classroom instruction at PCI, they participate in on-site externships with many of the best employers in the region. This helps to hone their skills and move them one step closer to starting a successful career.

Student: Molly

Program:  Medical Assistant
Externship Location:  UPMC-Magee Women’s Cancer Center

Q: Where did you do your Medical Assistant externship?

I did my externship at UPMC-Magee Women’s Cancer Center.

Q: What motivated you to enroll in the Medical Assistant program at PCI?

Honestly, the second I walked into PCI everyone was so welcoming and that alone really motivated me. I enjoy caring for others, and being able to brighten their day even when they may feel their worst, that brings me so much joy.

Q: How was PCI’s Medical Assistant externship experience?

Time flies when you are having fun! My six week on-site experience went by so fast, it felt like I had just gotten there. I learned so much while on externship, things I didn’t even learn in class. It was an incredible experience.

Q: What do your consider the most important preparation for your externship?

Learn to work as a TEAM. Teamwork is such a critical aspect when working in the medical field. Nothing would get done alone in my office, considering how busy it can be…but when you work together, it makes everything flow nicely.

Q: What did you like most about your externship?

I enjoyed doing blood draws! I am learning different areas from where MA’s can draw blood, which includes the back of the arm! I felt so comfortable on site when drawing from patients, and they trusted me too. Once you build trust with a patient, it’s such a great feeling.

Q: What advice do you have for someone seriously considering the Medical Assistant profession?

Don’t wait, just do it. Medical assisting will open doors to so many opportunities. Never did I think I would be working alongside such skilled oncology doctors and nurses, it’s so surreal. Overall, just believe in yourself…I know the program can be difficult at times, but it’s like that for a reason – to push you, to guide you, and to give you the confidence you need to succeed.

Student Profile: Grace

Student: Grace

Program: Veterinary Technology
Externship Location: VCA Castle Shannon Animal Hospital

Q: Why did you choose PCI?
I chose Pittsburgh Career Institute for the Veterinary Technology program because of the courses offered for the program. I felt the courses would prepare me well for just about anything including small animal, large animal and exotic medicine. I also liked that the PCI had a Reg prep course to ensure I would be prepared to take the certification exam. The staff was wonderful explaining the requirements for the school and was so encouraging when it came down to me enrolling. Everyone was so supportive in the big decision in beginning my career.

Q: Why did you choose the Veterinary Technology program?
I have always been passionate about helping animals, but never truly knew what I wanted to do as a career until I began to work on a dairy cattle farm in high school. Working on a farm allowed me to really grow a passion for the medical aspect of things. I also wanted to begin a career that allowed me to enter into the field and be hands-on as quickly as I could. That is when I decided to become a Veterinary Technician. Although I am very passionate about working in large animal medicine, my time at PCI has also given me the opportunity to love emergency medicine for small animals. Emergency medicine allows constant learning and job opportunities.

Q: What advice would you give to current students?
My best advice to current students is, don’t give up! Although it’s tough at first, you can get through it if you put in the work. Your externship is worth it all in the end; don’t get discouraged if there is something you aren’t the strong in, everything takes practice to make perfect.

Q: Where are you doing your externship?
My externship is at VCA Castle Shannon Animal Hospital.

Q: What is the best part of your externship?
The best part of my externship is being able to learn from such a great staff. There is never a discouraging moment, everyone at VCA ensures that I have a learning opportunity in nearly every case I’m assigned to. Everyone is so knowledgeable and honest on the real-life aspects of the job.

Student Profile: Christina

Student: Christina

Program: Medical Assistant
Externship Location: West Penn Medical Associates

Q: Why did you choose PCI?
Because I am very much a kinesthetic learner and being that PCI has primarily hands-on learning I believed I would excel.

Q: Why the Medical Assistant program?
I decided on the Medical Assistant Program because I enjoy the direct patient care and the interaction. I also hope to bring joy and comfort to sick and worried patients. For me, being a medical assistant is more than a job; it is a lifestyle of always helping someone, no matter the situation.

Q: What advice would you give to current students?
Strive to be the best you can be; when you work hard and wait for the opportunity, it will appear.

Q: Where did you do your externship?
West Penn Medical Associates on Liberty Avenue

Q: What was the best part of your externship?

Also, the professionals I worked with, the physician, nurse practitioner, the entire staff. They made me feel comfortable, each person was open to help me and answer any questions, and they showed me how to do things that may have been new to me.

Q: What new skills did you learn?
Referrals and all insurance information. Front and back office are both aspects of the medical assistant occupation.

Student Profile: Elfonzo

Student: Elfonzo

Program: Surgical Technology
Externship Location: Allegheny General Hospital (AGH)

Q: Why did you choose PCI?
I chose PCI initially because of the convenience of its central location in downtown Pittsburgh. The morning commute to class is quick and easy!

Q: Why did you choose the Surgical Technology program?
I chose the Surgical Technology program because my mother worked for UPMC for years as a Surgical Technologist and after researching the job market and reading up on PCI’s program I figured it would be a perfect match for me.

Q: What advice would you give to current students?
Some advice I’d give to current students is to make sure you’re paying attention during lectures and participating during labs, because the knowledge you obtain here on campus will definitely prepare you to succeed during your clinical/externship. It’s all about honing the skills you learn while you’re a student so that when you’re looking for a career in your field after graduation your resume can speak for itself!

Q: What was the best part of your externship?
The best part of my externship was learning the skills necessary to obtain a career as a Surgical Technologist. I had the pleasure of interning at Allegheny General Hospital – and being a level one trauma center, they have every service and specialty you can think of, making it look good on my resume. The staff at AGH was very polite and receptive of students which makes your time on the externship run very smoothly. I really enjoyed my time at AGH and feel as though their team adequately prepared me for the transition from being a student to a full-time Surgical Technologist.

Q: What new skills did you learn at your externship?
Apart from getting the opportunity to apply my skills learned in class at PCI clinically, being an extern taught me the inner workings of the operating room, the functions of different O.R. staff, how to utilize surgical equipment and supplies, and how the surgical team works together to ensure the safety of the patient. The hands-on experience I got from working at AGH is what made me realize that this is a field in which I can excel.

Q: What are you looking forward to most in your new career as a Surgical Tech at UPMC?
I look forward to working as a Surgical Technologist at UPMC Presbyterian mainly because I know it is a good start to continuing my education, and is a place where I can gain skills that can only be learned through experience. Experienced Surgical Technologists are in demand in today’s job market and building a relationship with UPMC would allow me to beef up my resume and make me look good to future employers.