Glossary of Medical Terms

Psychiatric Nurse

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

Psychiatric nurses hold a nursing degree and certification (RN), which requires a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) from a 4-year university or an associate degree in nursing (ADN) from a 2-year college. All graduates must successfully pass the Registered Nurse Licensing Examination. Graduation from a state-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 and 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 states can prescribe medicines.

A registered nurse must hold a current license in the state in which he or she practices. Licensing requirements are managed by individual state boards of nursing. 

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