If you have ever 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.

Catapulted into a New Career

Paul F. began his career as a plant manager in a metal manufacturing facility. Supervisor of over two hundred employees, Paul was responsible for quality, safety, delivery, and more. He was happy in his role and experiencing great career success, until a larger Canadian corporation bought out his plant. Suddenly, Paul found himself out of a job and at a loss for what to do next.

But an opportunity came along that introduced Paul to his second calling – nursing. When Paul’s employer offered the option for terminated employees to return to school, Paul took a chance and chose to study medicine. Several years later, he found himself on a completely new career path, caring for patients at UPMC Bedford.

The Patient Who Changed Everything

Paul had only been out of nursing school for a few months when he met a patient who left an unforgettable mark on him. One night, while making his rounds at the small community hospital where he worked, Paul met a gentleman who was suffering from lung cancer and nearing the end of his life.

The man shared that he and his son had been on poor terms for years, and he wasn’t sure if he would ever see him again. That night, Paul sat with the dying man and bonded with him over life, death, regrets, and faith.

“I remember telling him that as a father, I would want to spend my last [moments] with my son, and as a son I’d want to spend them with my father,” Paul said. He told the patient, “You have an opportunity to turn this into a blessing and clear the page with your son. Don’t be so bull-headed and stubborn that you lose sight of what’s important in life.”

When Paul’s shift ended that night, he left the hospital unsure of whether he’d been able to break through to the patient. But when he returned to the hospital days later, Paul found out that the man had agreed to let his son visit. They had spent the day together, and the gentleman had passed away the very next morning. Paul said, very simply, “That’s the best experience that I’ve had. Man, that’s what I’m supposed to be doing.”

Paul’s Perspective

As a staff nurse in the Emergency Department at UPMC Bedford, Paul F. has seen his fair share of pain and struggle. Patients who arrive in the Emergency Department are often experiencing one of the worst days of their lives, and Paul and his team must be prepared for whatever comes through the door.

“As a nurse, you have two responsibilities: to help [patients] get better and to help them transition,” Paul said. “So many times, we get caught up in the ‘getting better,’ but the truth is that ‘getting better’ doesn’t always happen. It’s just about being there for them and helping them to reconcile some things, maybe turn it from a negative into a positive, and look at it as a blessing.”

“You’re going to see them at their worst times, and you’re going to see them at their best times. Sometimes you’re going to have good news to give them and sometimes bad. It’s being there with them and their families and being able to provide for them and take care of them.”

For Paul, his work as a nurse has allowed him to use some of the same skills he used as a plant manager — like management, leadership, and prioritization. Yet his second career has also given him something new and truly special: the opportunity to bless others with his words, his actions, and his care.

Are you ready to discover what a nursing career at UPMC could mean to you?

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