Psychiatric nurses are registered nurses (RNs) who provide mental health education, treatment, and counselling to individuals and groups in a variety of settings.

Psychiatric nurses hold a nursing degree and certification (RN). This requires a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) from a 4-year university or completion of a 2-year program at a community college. All graduates must successfully pass the Registered Nurse Licensing Examination. Graduation from an accredited program is a prerequisite to taking the licensing examination.

Advanced practice nurses (APNs) are RNs who have met advanced educational and clinical practice requirements. They work as Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) or as Nurse Practitioners (NPs). APNs who specialize in mental health nursing diagnose and treat individuals or families. And in many provinces they can prescribe medicines.

A registered nurse must hold a current license in the province in which he or she practices. Licensing requirements are managed by individual provincial nurse associations. Many psychiatric nurses have an additional specialized certification as a Registered Psychiatric Nurse (RPN).

Current as of: October 18, 2016

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Donald Sproule, MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine