Each year, thousands of students across North America seeking exciting and rewarding careers as nurses enrol in university nursing programs. In Canada, a bachelor’s degree in nursing is now required in almost every province and territory in order to be certified as a Registered Nurse. Programs usually take four years to complete and many students will enter these programs directly from high school. On-campus nursing programs are well-suited for students who know at an early stage that nursing is the right career choice for them. These programs are also good options for those students with the financial resources to leave home to attend university for four years.
Many institutions, including Queen’s University, offer advanced standing in their respective nursing programs. This means that students can transfer into a nursing program after having completed at least two years of full-time studies in another program, provided that they have obtained the necessary prerequisite courses. They will then have to study for an additional two years in order to complete the nursing degree requirements.
The Bachelor of Health Sciences degree program is perfect for students who aren’t sure if nursing is the right choice for them directly after high school. These students have the ability to take relevant Health Sciences courses for two full years and then subsequently apply to an advanced standing nursing program.
The BHSc program is also a great choice for nurses who started their careers before a baccalaureate degree was a requirement for the profession. Previously, many nurses obtained diplomas from Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology. They now have the option of completing the BHSc part-time in a way that fits in with their busy schedules. After completing the equivalent of two full years of study, they would be eligible to apply to advanced standing nursing programs in order to update their qualifications.
The Bachelor of Health Sciences degree program offers excellent preparation for students interested in a career in nursing. The courses offer students different perspectives from across the spectrum of health sciences concentrations, and students are well-prepared to apply for admission to nursing programs in the future. The program is flexible and doesn’t require students to move to a new city or commute to the university. This means that money can be saves during the first two years by studying from home. Students can then transfer to the accelerated nursing program of their choice and finish the Bachelor of Nursing Science program two or three years later. This is also a great option for people who cannot commit to leaving home for four years.
Before the Application
Do What You Love
If you do, you’ll tend to thrive! Choose a university program that interests you since you will usually attain better marks learning something that fascinates you. Be aware that you do not usually have to be enrolled in a health sciences program in order to apply to an advanced standing nursing program. Most schools require specific pre‐requisite courses – however, they can be completed in conjunction with any degree program.
Research the Profession
Consider conducting information interviews with nurses and nursing students. Know the realities of the day‐to‐day work and how it fits with what you know about yourself. Be realistic and informed by exploring other career options in addition to the role of the nurse.
Meet the Prerequisites
Know what courses are required and obtain them at any time before you apply. To enable you to apply to many schools, you may want to consider including the desired prerequisites for a variety of nursing programs. Each program has slightly different prerequisites so always check the specific schools to ensure that these general suggestions will allow you to meet the most up‐to‐date admission requirements. Some schools have high school course requirements, but if you didn’t take a course in high school, an introductory university course usually satisfies this requirement instead (e.g. take BIOL 102 if you didn’t take Grade 12 Biology). The following courses are common prerequisites for advanced standing nursing programs:
- Anatomy (ANAT 100)
- Physiology (PHGY 210)
- Statistics (STAT 263)
- Research Methods (BMED 270)
- Psychology (PSYC 100)
- Humanities (many online options: CLST 205, GNDS 120, MUSC 102, PHIL 259, etc.)
Aim High Academically
Be sure to keep the doors open. Advanced standing programs are typically very competitive – much more competitive than admission to a typical 4-year nursing program, as there are fewer spots. Many institutions do not assess any supplementary information (e.g. volunteer service, CV, references, essays) for admission to advanced standing nursing programs, and may solely use your grades to determine eligibility. This is why it is very important for you to do your best academically.
In order to apply to an advanced nursing track program in Ontario, you will typically have to apply through OUAC 105 (http://www.ouac.on.ca/) or OCAS (http://www.ontariocolleges.ca/home). Some schools will require you to apply to them directly. The deadline is typically in early February.
Whether you are applying through a central application service like OUAC 105 or directly to the school, you will need to arrange to send your transcripts. Not all schools require high school transcripts, so be sure to research your schools of interest to find out what they require. You will need to send your Queen’s University transcript, along with any other post-secondary institution transcripts, if this applies to you. There is generally a fee associated with this so, factor that into your application budget. If required, contact your current and former educational institutions early to avoid last‐minute problems at deadline time.
Some schools will ask applicants to submit answers or essays to general or specific questions about their goals, experiences and fit with the program. Queen’s, for example, requires a supplementary essay. Flawless grammar and spelling are essential. Pondering the personal statements and essay portions of the application sometimes highlights for students that they may be having difficulty articulating their specific reasons for choosing a career as a nurse and defining what makes them different from other well‐qualified candidates. Tell succinct but vivid stories that enable the reader to get to know you and to see your potential as a nursing student at their institution.
Ontario Advanced Standing Nursing Programs
Check with each school to ensure that you have the most accurate and up‐to‐date admissions criteria. If you are applying to another province, ask about the number of spots available to out‐of‐province students then build that knowledge into your application strategy. The following list may not be complete:
- McMaster University (two years)
- York University (two years)
- Humber College (two years)
- University of Toronto (two years)
- Queen’s University (two years)
- Lakehead University (three years)
- University of Ontario Institute of Technology (three years)
- Trent University (three years)
- Mohawk College (three years)
- Laurentian University (three and a half years)
The following links to a list of all the accelerated nursing programs in Canada (Queen’s is not responsible for accuracy of this list): http://www.casn.ca/education/fast-trackaccelerated-bacc-programs/