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Why Choose a Career in Medical Assisting

by South University
August 30, 2017
A photo of a woman talking with a healthcare professional, perhaps a medical assistant.

If you're considering pursuing a career in healthcare, medical assisting can allow you to do meaningful work that matters in your community. Medical assistants play an essential role in the day-to-day operations of healthcare facilities and are often among the first and last people a patient sees at their check-ups or doctor's appointments. If you think the healthcare field could be right for you, here are three reasons why medical assisting is a great place to start.

1. Medical assisting is more than just a job. It's an important healthcare career.

Medical assisting is a rewarding healthcare career that can give you the chance to contribute to patient health and care as you support physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals. Medical assistants often interact with patients and, with an upbeat attitude and positive demeanor, can help to keep patients feeling at ease and smiling during a physician’s visit that might otherwise be stressful. In fact, when South University recently checked in with our Associate of Science in Medical Assisting 2014 and 2015 graduates from our Montgomery, Savannah, and Columbia campuses, they reported a 100% graduate satisfaction rate.

As a medical assistant, you’ll also be learning a lot about the healthcare field, and, in time, may find opportunities for advancement into roles like medical office or records manager, healthcare administrator, or other related jobs.

2. Medical assisting encompasses many duties, keeping you engaged and on your toes.

As a medical assistant, you may perform a diverse mix of administrative and clinical responsibilities. On the administrative side, you might schedule appointments, greet patients, update electronic health records, and handle billing and insurance. Clinical duties can include recording patient information and history, instructing patients on medications, checking vital signs, preparing blood samples, conducting basic lab tests, and assisting the doctor before and during a patient exam. In some states, medical assistants may also give patients injections or medications as instructed by the physician.

Medical assistants can work in a variety of care facilities, with most having full-time schedules while others have the option to work part-time instead. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), almost 60% of medical assistants work in physician's offices, with an additional 10% working in offices of other health practitioners. If you work in a physician's or practitioner's office, you’re likely to work a predictable schedule as most clinics and offices open during standard business hours, allowing you to more easily plan and schedule time with family and friends. Other large employers of medical assistants include hospitals and outpatient care centers.

3. Employment of medical assistants is growing faster than average.

According to the BLS, medical assistant employment is expected to increase 23% from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the 7% average across all occupations. Medical assistant employment growth follows the general growth of the healthcare industry and the increasing need for support workers at healthcare facilities. By 2024, the BLS projects that 730,200 medical assistants will be employed in the US, compared to the 591,300 medical assistants counted in 2014. Such an increase in demand can provide workers with increased career stability and the knowledge that, no matter where they are in the country, medical assistants will be needed.

How to Prepare for Your Medical Assisting Career

At South University, our medical assisting associate's degree program can prepare you to begin working as a medical assistant in as little as 2 years. Learn more today about South University's medical assisting program available at our Columbia, Montgomery, and Savannah campuses.

by South University
August 30, 2017
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Meet a Key Member of the Orlando Learning Site’s Nursing Faculty and Leadership

by South University
August 18, 2017

"The educational journey is exciting but extremely difficult. It has many valleys, peaks, tears, frustrations and celebrations," says South University, Orlando Learning Site, Assistant Dean & Associate Professor for Graduate Nursing, William Warrington. "In the end, one can only achieve greatness when you are pushed to the limit of your potential; I believe in pushing hard. I want every student to succeed and be the very best they can be."

An important part of the leadership for the South University, Orlando Learning Site, Dr. William Warrington, PhD, ARNP, FNP-C, CCRP, is an accomplished nurse practitioner and educator who has devoted over 25 years to the nursing field. Recently, he earned the honor of being named one of the Top 100 Nurse Educators and Researchers in the State of Florida by the Florida Nurses Association.

Becoming a Leader in the Field of Nursing

Like many nurses, Warrington was attracted to the profession after himself witnessing the care and compassion of nurses. After watching the nursing staff care for his father after an open heart operation, Warrington—who had previously served in the US Army as a Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Weapons Specialist—was inspired to look into nursing school.

"I found out that the curriculum would be challenging and stimulating. I was not disappointed," recalls Warrington, who earned his ASN in 1990 and his BSN shortly thereafter in 1993.

From there, Warrington spent over two decades working in intensive care units and cardiac catheterizations labs. He earned an MSN in Nursing Administration and Adult Health in 2002 and a PhD in Nursing Science / Physiology in 2008—degrees that equipped him to take on leadership responsibilities such as supervising employees and mentoring new team members and students.

For five years, Warrington was also a Nurse Scientist with the Orlando Health Center for Nursing Research, where he served as principal investigator on four studies, was co-investigator on nine studies, and co-authored numerous peer-reviewed articles, one of which was published in the Journal of the Association for Vascular Access. Here, in addition to conducting and supporting research, Warrington helped to inform other nurses of recent research, guiding them in evidence-based practice initiatives.

Over the years, Warrington has also given 21 poster and podium presentations at various conferences, seminars, and other meetings, as well as served on and chaired many committees and advisory boards. In 2014, Warrington earned another MSN with a specialization in Family Nurse Practitioner, and he has been working as an ARNP ever since.

"Working in nursing has provided me with a diverse career. Being a registered nurse was rewarding, but, after going on several medical missions, I wanted to seize the opportunity to really make a difference in the daily lives of people by being able to assess, diagnose, and treat our underserved population," he reflects. "To accomplish this, I had to step up my game and increase my knowledge, skills, and responsibility by becoming a certified family nurse practitioner."

Sharing Expertise and Giving Back

Beyond all his professional accomplishments, Warrington has also been active in education on and off since 1992, both in hospitals and numerous educational institutions.

"For me, teaching is an extension of care. I like to give people information so that they can make informed decision about their life and healthcare. This naturally evolved into the academic arena," he says, adding. "I wanted to give back to the nursing profession and share the knowledge that I had accumulated over the years."

Warrington joined South University in 2015 and, in addition to teaching, spends much of his time providing leadership to department chairs, program directors, and faculty. On top of his work in academia, Warrington still practices at a clinic one day per week and volunteers as a Nurse Practitioner for Shepherd's Hope Inc, an organization that provides free care to low-income families in need.

In his classroom, Warrington draws heavily on what he’s learned over the years as a nurse. "Experience is everything! I believe that my students benefit from my academic and professional practice successes as well as failures," he asserts, explaining that in addition to telling students what works, he warns them of common pitfalls, recommending strategies for avoiding such mistakes entirely.

For his students and other nurses, his advice is straightforward but valuable. In fact, it’s what has helped him to achieve so much. "Work hard, read everything, challenge yourself, and take pride in what you do."

by South University
August 18, 2017
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Meet Melissa Smith, Undergraduate Nursing Program Director at the Cleveland Campus

by South University
August 14, 2017

Melissa M. Smith, RN, PhD, brings over 43 years of nursing experience to her role as Undergraduate Nursing Program Director at South University, Cleveland.

Now a full-time educator, Smith is accomplished in the field of nursing and has been published in Gastroenterology Nursing as well as the American Journal of Nursing. Her work on the topic of infection control in endoscopy centers was also included in the 2002 edition of the Manual of Clinical Problems in Gastroenterology.

Throughout her career, Smith has served as both a staff nurse and a nurse administrator. After beginning her career working in a surgical intensive care unit, Smith transferred to the outpatient endoscopy department. From there, Dr. Smith moved into private practice, helping to establish one of the first Medicare certified endoscopy centers in Ohio.

During her years managing and working at the endoscopy center, Smith returned to school to earn her bachelor’s in nursing, and was soon drawn to the idea of her becoming an educator. In 2001, Smith took a role as a Didactic/Clinical Instructor. Meanwhile, she continued pursuing her own education, earning a MSN degree in 2002 and post master’s nursing education certificate in 2005.

By 2006, Smith was working as a full-time faculty member and, after earning her PhD in Nursing in 2009, she soon worked her way up to Assistant Director and the Director of the nursing programs at the school where she was teaching. In 2012, she brought her wealth of knowledge and skills to the team and students at South University, Cleveland.

Reflecting on her own educational journey, Smith recalls faculty members who were both mentors and inspirations for her own approach to teaching, but the road wasn't all easy. "Earning my doctoral degree was a challenge, but it was an experience that helped me to grow and to think differently," she reflects. "It opened up many doors, and I don't think I would be here had I not taken that journey."

As an instructor, she values not only guiding her students in learning fundamental nursing skills and knowledge but also encouraging and teaching them to search out more knowledge. Often when students give her an answer with hesitancy in their voice, she’ll respond, 'Are you asking me or are you telling me?'

She explains, "I want them to know how to utilize their resources, rather than to rely on someone else knowing a piece of information. You don't have to have all the answers, but you do have to know where to get your answers."

In pushing them to seek out answers and sources, Dr. Smith prepares her students not just for the immediate next step in their career, but ultimately for a lifelong process of learning. For her graduates, she advises, "You should trust what you've learned, but also recognize that you still have a lot to learn, and that's okay. That's how it should be."

The idea of lifelong learning and growth is something Smith herself is personally familiar with; she’d been working as a nurse for 25 years before she earned her bachelor's degree. "As I encounter the more seasoned nurses, I encourage them not to be afraid to step out of that comfort zone," she says. "Someone will tell me, 'Oh, I'm too old to go back to school.' No, you're not. I don't believe that. We're never too old. We should never stop trying to grow and build ourselves professionally or personally."

by South University
August 14, 2017
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In-Demand: More Nurse Educators Still Needed!

by South University
August 7, 2017

Nurse Educator

As the need for nurses has grown over the years, so has the need for nurse educators. Yet this need has not been met, and today nurse educator shortages at facilities across the U.S. are limiting student enrollment numbers. According to an American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) report, U.S. nursing schools turned away 75,029 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2018 due to an insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors, and budget constraints

Thus, for those considering a career in the field of nurse education, the time is right for you to build your knowledge and skills and pursue a career where you are needed!

Graduate Degrees Required for Open Positions

If you are interested in a career as a nurse educator, a graduate degree is highly recommended and valued by employers.

Historically, it has been hard for nursing schools to find nurse educators possessing master’s or doctoral degrees. In 2016, 8% of full-time nurse educator positions were unfilled, according to an AACN survey of nursing programs across the country. These open nurse educator positions leave many opportunities for individuals with the right passion, skills, and educational experiences.

More Nurse Educators Retiring in Coming Years

For institutions not currently feeling the effects of the country's nurse educator shortages, the upcoming retirement of many nurse educators may lead to even more open positions. According to AACN's report on 2016-2017 Salaries of Instructional and Administrative Nursing Faculty, the average ages of doctorally-prepared nurse faculty holding the ranks of professor, associate professor, and assistant professor were 62.4, 57.2, and 51.2 years, respectively. This means that many nurse educators will be retiring and leaving vacancies in the coming years. Experts predict that even the country’s best-rated nursing schools will need to recruit aggressively to attract the right applicants for their vacancies.

To minimize the impact of the nurse educator shortage, the American Nurses Association is working to encourage registered nurses to study for master’s and doctoral degree programs to provide them with an opportunity to move into educator positions. If you’re interested in this career, get started by learning about the graduate programs in the area of Nursing offered by South University at

Read More

Author's Note: This article was originally published December 2014 and has been updated to reflect current research statistics and insights.

by South University
August 7, 2017
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The Rising Value of a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing

by South University
August 7, 2017

Today, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reports that only slightly more than half of all Registered Nurses (RNs) have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Yet, major professional organizations, including the National Academy of Medicine, are pushing for that number to reach 80% by 2020.

Why Organizations Want RNs with a BSN

While 80% of RNs with a BSN is an ambitious goal, many organizations want to make it a reality. Why? They hope to increase the standard of care for their patients, and a growing body of research demonstrates improved clinical outcomes for nurses with higher education. These outcomes range from lower mortality rates to more accurate diagnoses.

Some hospitals may be further driven by a desire for the coveted Magnet Hospital designation, which requires that hospitals have a plan to ensure 80% of their RNs hold a BSN by 2020. The awarding committee also evaluates the current education of the nursing staff and expects all nurse managers to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

How a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing Could Help You

While associate’s and diploma nursing programs focus primarily on the basics of clinical care, BSN programs offer a broader curriculum useful in diverse settings and cases. BSN programs can teach you communication, critical thinking, and leadership skills as well as prepare you to deliver more advanced patient care.

Employers recognize and value that difference, with the numbers clearly showing the value of a BSN to RNs on the job hunt. In 2016, the AACN found that nearly 98% of surveyed organizations strongly preferred hiring nurses with a bachelor's degree in nursing, while over 54% only hired RNs with a BSN. The US Army, Navy and Air Force, for example, require every active duty practicing RN to hold a BSN.

Having a bachelor's degree in nursing is also commonly a must-have for moving beyond basic clinical positions into administration, research, teaching, or other specialized nursing fields. This holds true in the Veteran's Administration (VA)—the single largest US employer for RNs—where nurses cannot be promoted out of entry-level positions without a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Earning a BSN can also lead to a jump in your salary. In 2017, reported that RNs with a BSN earned a median salary of $69,000, nearly $8,000 more than those without the degree. Beyond that, a bachelor’s degree in nursing can be a stepping stone to a master’s degree in nursing, which is required for advanced practice RNs.

Solutions for Working Nurses: RN to BSN Programs and Online Nursing Degrees

Without your RN status, earning a bachelor's degree in nursing would take, on average, four years. Luckily, RN to BSN programs can save RNs like you time and money. If you meet RN to BSN requirements, you could earn your BSN in under two years.

What's more, select schools allow you to earn nursing degrees online—giving you greater flexibility and control over your schedule. Your employer may even offer tuition reimbursement support for RN to BSN programs. Either way, investing in your education now could lead to more job and promotion opportunities and a higher salary in the future.

Author's Note: This article was originally published September 2016 and has been updated to reflect current research statistics and insights.

by South University
August 7, 2017
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