(l to r) Ryan Northway and Jonathan Santos

Varsity Blues Rower Balances Nursing Studies with Competitive Practice

16 April 2013

(l to r) Ryan Northway and Jonathan Santos

When most of us are heading out the door in the morning, first-year BScN student Ryan Northway has already fit in a rowing practice, with the Varsity Blues, and then gone to class or a clinical placement.  Balancing his passion for rowing with his nursing career goals has provided Northway with time management and teamwork skills integral to succeeding off the water, and in the health care profession.

The Smithville, ON native spent his first year on the University of Toronto rowing team, the oldest rowing club in Canada, producing strong results.  A fourth-place finish in the lightweight men’s double sculls at the Ontario University Athletics Championships and a sixth-place finish in the same category at the Canadian University Rowing Championships came from an unwavering commitment to train six days a week, no matter the season, and working as a team.

Devoting 18 to 20 hours a week to rowing, on top of the intensive University of Toronto BScN program, leaves Northway will little free time but he wouldn’t have it any other way saying that “rowing is a sport that you either love or you hate and if you do love it, it will envelop your life.”

Northway became involved with rowing when he started his BSc in Kinesiology at McMaster University.  He quickly took to the sport and began a routine of daily 5:20 a.m. practice starts, 6:00 p.m. practice starts and weekends spent at regattas.  When he started at University of Toronto, he had spent the summer training even though he was unsure if he could join the Varsity Blues rowing team.  Practice times for the team, at the east-end Hanlan Boat Club, end at 7:00 a.m. and most nursing clinical placements start at that time.  A casual conversation at the beginning of the year with Dr. Francine Wynn, director of the Undergraduate Program, gave Northway the opportunity to talk about his desire to continue rowing through the Varsity Blues.  Dr. Wynn recognized Northway’s discipline to rowing and the faculty worked to coordinate afternoon clinical placements to accommodate the Varsity Blues training schedule.

“I was really thankful for what the faculty did and how they went out of their way to find solutions to my rowing schedule,” says Northway.  “I thought that I would have to give up rowing or reduce training, which in a two-month competitive season is pretty significant.”

As this school year begins to wind down, Northway will continue to train even though he is not sure if the BScN second-year timetable will fit with another Varsity Blues season.  What he is sure of is a nursing career spent working with people in the operating room or the emergency room and increasing his patient-building skills.  The drive and determination Northway has applied to his rowing and schooling will provide him with valuable tools to succeed in nursing.

“Being active and involved with rowing has been a good outlet for me and I think it will help me well with my nursing career,” says Northway.   “We’re told with the demands of the job, nurses really benefit from having a way to decompress and I know for me, rowing will always provide that.”