Although Waterloo does not offer a nursing program, you can pursue a career in nursing after completing as little as two years of your Waterloo degree by applying to accelerated nursing programs. These programs can take as little as 20 months to finish instead of the four years of a regular nursing degree.

If you're interested in careers in areas such as medicine, nursing, optometry, physiotherapy, or pharmacy, several Waterloo programs are great preparation.


lauryanne wearing scrubs and stethoscopeA graduate offers her advice

Lauryanne Bolland comes from a family of nurses, but it was her Waterloo co-op experiences working alongside various health care professionals that solidified the idea to pursue a career in nursing.

After graduating from Waterloo's Kinesiology program, Lauryanne completed an accelerated nursing program at Queen’s University. (An accelerated nursing program takes less time to complete because students already have completed at least two years of university studies).

Lauryanne works at Sunnybrook Health Science Centre in Toronto on the surgical oncology floor, where she helps head and neck, urology, and general surgery patients.

What are the benefits of an accelerated nursing program?

One benefit is that your courses are solely made up of core nursing skills and theories that are consolidated during nursing placements. When I graduated nursing school and entered into my first job, I felt as though all my learning was fresh and accessible.

Another benefit is the smaller class size. At Queen's University, my program was approximately 40 students and we were all friends. We all studied together, celebrated together after exams, and were there for each other when we had a tough day at the hospital.


My time at Waterloo was a really important step in my own growth. I think if I went directly into nursing out of high school I would have spent a lot of time trying to figure out what it means to be an adult and missed out on some valuable learning.

What are the disadvantages of doing a degree before nursing school?

The obvious con is the fact that it took me longer to get started in my nursing career. It took me six years to become a nurse versus four years for those that knew what they wanted to do in high school. While it would definitely be nice to be established in my nursing career, looking back I wouldn’t change a thing.

Nursing requires a lot of maturity. I was able to take the time in my Kinesiology degree to try out new things and really think about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Co-op terms at Waterloo gave me the opportunity to see what it means to be a professional, while exposing me to different career routes. In co-op I developed my own work ethic and gained some valuable life experience. All of this learning and growth gave me confidence entering into nursing school and motivated me to learn the most that I could during my studies.

Nursing requires a lot of emotional maturity, it is not an easy job to be the person holding someone’s hand at the end of their life. For me, entering nursing a little later provided me the capacity to cope with the challenging and emotionally exhausting aspects of the job.

Learn more