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Casino Boats to Clinicals

Paul Gonzales.jpg

Not everyone’s path to nursing is a straight line. In fact, today the average person changes jobs an average of 12 times during their career (source). One student went worked on a casino boat and even flipped houses before going to nursing school. 

 Paul Gonzales, an evening student in the associate’s degree in nursing program at Labouré College, understands this as he took a few detours on his way to becoming a nurse. “I’ve always been interested in healthcare. My mom was a nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston in the NICU for 40 years and my dad was a physician’s assistant. But after high school, I flipped houses with a friend. Prior to that I worked on a casino boat for 5 years as the senior deck hand and did engineering shifts. Eventually, I went back to school and graduated from North Shore Community College with a health science degree.”

New degree in hand, Gonzales thought he was headed toward a career in radiation therapy. But life had a few more turns in mind. Tired of the waiting list to get into NSCC’s radiation therapy program, Gonzales started looking for new opportunities in healthcare. “I was looking through a lot of colleges and working full time. I needed to find a college that had a full-time night program, but nothing seemed to work right. Then, I found out about Labouré College’s evening nursing program and schedule. It finally fit,” said Gonzales. “Labouré is very flexible and there is a lot of support here. The people in financial aid will help you figure out how to afford it and there’s tutoring for classes.”

Today he works full-time as an anesthesia technician at Massachusetts Eye and Ear in Boston, MA and goes to school at night. “I’ve been at Mass Eye and Ear for five years. I work in the morning 6:00 AM to 2:30 PM. I’m the first one there. We start all the machines that the anesthesiologists use for the day. Then we calibrate oxygen sensors and make sure the operating room is stocked properly. Then, when the surgery is finished, we go in to re-stock, check inventory and put the room back in order.”

After work, Gonzales either goes to Labouré for class or simulation lab, or to clinical, or home to see his two small children and his fiancé. He admits it a lot to balance. “It was so much easier to go to school before I had kids. Now coming back, even though I love school and love learning, it’s hard having to work and take care of the kids. I work hard to find that time to crunch down. I live on the North Shore and got assigned a clinical in Plymouth, MA. It was hard, but you make time for what matters. My fiancé helps me with the kids and before every exam, I schedule a day off from work to study,” says Gonzales.

With only two more nursing classes left, Gonzales has started to think about what his future holds. “My first plan is to apply for an RN job at Mass Eye and Ear and get my BSN at Labouré. Then, I’m not sure. I think I would like to be a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist because of my work as an anesthesia tech, but pediatrics would also be really great. I coach high school football and I really like helping kids,” says Gonzales. With his determination and drive, there’s no limit to what he can achieve.

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