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Student Experience
Paul Haas
Paul Haas College of San Mateo, Nursing

A husband and father, Paul Haas, 37, graduated from College of San Mateo with honors with a nursing degree, a well-paying and secure job at a local hospital already in hand and eminently prepared to pass the registered nurse licensing examination on his first try —all a tribute to his hard work and a highly regarded nursing program at the community college.

“It was the toughest thing I’ve ever been through in my life,” Haas said of nursing education at CSM. “It was a very intense program.”

“The instructors were always supportive. They always prepared us to be good nurses and made sure we were serious about what we were doing” added Haas, one of 10 men in the 51-student nursing program graduating class.

Part of CSM’s nursing education involves clinical rotations at hospitals, providing students with an array of hands-on experience—much to Haas’ liking.

Haas completed eight “rotationals” at four different hospitals. Four rotations were at Kaiser Permanente in Redwood City, Four rotations were at Kaiser Permanente in Redwood City, which led to his being offered a job in the intensive care unit at the hospital over spring break in his final year at CSM.

“The nursing program was fantastic and prepared me well for the registered nurse licensing exam and to work in the field,” Haas stated.

The computerized exam determines a test taker’s competency to be a nurse, he said. After answering the minimum number of questions (just 75 of 265), Haas was determined competent and passed.

Haas said that he chose nursing as a career, in large part, because he’s happiest when working with people.

On his road to becoming a nurse, his jobs as a local camp counselor and water ski instructor at the lagoons of Foster City, an administrative assistant at a drug treatment program and a medical technician at a endoscopy center all had one thing in common: an opportunity to be with, teach and help others.

“The one job that I had that didn’t involve working with people made me miserable,” said Haas.

Haas’ nursing education was his second stop at CSM, which both his parents also attended. He first entered after graduating from high school and later left not knowing what he wanted to do. But over the intervening years, his interest in people and the medical field grew.

“I was always fascinated with the medical field,” Haas said, “and my work at the endoscopy center opened my eyes to what nursing was all about. I enjoyed working with the doctors and patients—the hands-on aspects of the job.”

By 2003, he had made up his mind about a career. A husband and already a father by then (his second child is due in January), he scaled down his work schedule and went back to school fulltime, entering the nursing program in 2004.

It was challenging, he admitted, juggling family, work and school but he is proud of his accomplishment. And his hard work didn’t go unnoticed at CSM.

“I’m always impressed with students, like Paul, who give up so much of their lives to pursue a positive change in their lives,” said Janis Ryan, one of Haas’ CSM nursing professors. “Paul was driven to succeed and he was one of those who took the role of student nurse seriously and consistently rose to meeting each challenge the program set forth.”

Now, Haas’ reward is getting to spend more time with his growing family and earning good pay and benefits—working a 24-hour week, learning to be a better nurse everyday and working and helping others.

This article was the subject of a December 2006 press release.