I Have Seen What Health Care Can Do: My Care Changes Lives

Joe Serafin, Professional Staff Nurse, UPMC Mercy

If you have set foot into the medical world, then you have probably been impacted by the work of a nurse. All across the country, nurses are the caretakers, advocates, teachers, and friends who make caring happen.

Come along with us as we open the doors to the world of nursing. What does it take to be a nurse? What kind of impact do nurses have on their patients? Why is nursing such a meaningful career?

It’s time to hear the stories of how nurses change lives.


A career in the Progressive Care unit demands a lot from its nurses. With a high level of activity and a higher patient-to-nurse ratio than other floors, nurses are asked to take on many responsibilities and provide all different levels of care.

As a recent graduate of nursing school, this demanding world may seem like a large obstacle for Joe S., Professional Staff Nurse at UPMC Mercy. But this career is one that Joe has been preparing for his entire life.

Joe’s Early Start in Health Care

When Joe was just fourteen years old, he started his first job in the health care field. Working as a care aide in an assisted living facility, Joe’s duties were limited to bringing water to the residents, passing out food trays, and making beds.

His work as a care aide only lasted for a few years before he left the field and began pursuing other opportunities. What Joe didn’t know at the time, however, was that his first job would launch a lifelong love of helping people and a decades-long career in health care.

Joe got away from the world of health care for several years, “but it was always what I actually wanted to do, deep down,” he said. Influenced by his family, and his mother in particular, Joe moved back into health care in his early twenties. “I’ve seen what health care can do,” Joe said. “Not to sound cheesy, but I really did see that it can help people.”

A Life-Changing Choice

Joe’s mother always hinted to him that he should consider a career in nursing. “You should think about getting back into health care,” she would say to him, and he took her advice when he accepted a job in personal care and assisted living. “I did the care management work, which was more paperwork and managing aides and care plans. But I always actually wanted to be a nurse.”

When Joe was in his early thirties, his mother suddenly and tragically passed away. Ten years into his career, he decided to make a change. Knowing that nursing was the career that his mother wanted for him, Joe was motivated to pursue the dream that he had always had. After many years of waiting, Joe made the jump into nursing school.

Experiences in Progressive Care

Joe said that in the Progressive Care unit where he works, “you see everything.” The array of patients and challenges that come his way every day make Progressive Care the perfect place for a new nurse to learn. Additionally, UPMC Mercy’s Progressive Care unit is staffed by many veteran nurses who support Joe in his learning process. “The staff is amazing, honestly,” Joe said. “There’s nobody that I can’t go to when I’m looking for help.”

Joe doesn’t know yet exactly where his nursing career will take him, but for now the Progressive Care unit is the perfect place. His last clinical rotation of nursing school took place on the floor where he now works, and when he was offered a job as a student, Joe’s answer was an easy yes. “Of all the units I saw in school, this was the best unit.”


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