Career Resources / Nurse Abbreviations and Acronyms
Nursing, like most jobs, has its own language. From credentials to certifications and specialties, it can get a little confusing for new nurses, patients, or families who want to know what is going on in a healthcare setting.
In this post, we will give you an overview of various acronyms and abbreviations that are most used for nurses and in hospitals.
- Common professional licenses
- Common nursing certifications
- Hospital acronyms and abbreviations
- Common nursing degrees
- Nursing degree FAQs
Common professional licenses
- A-GNP – Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
- APRN – Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
- CNS – Clinical Nurse Specialist
- CRNA – Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
- FNP – Family Nurse Practitioner
- LPN – Licensed Practical Nurse
- LVN – Licensed Vocational Nurse
- NP – Nurse Practitioner
- PMHNP – Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
- RN – Registered Nurse
- WHNP – Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
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Common nursing certifications
- CCM – Certified Case Manager
- CDN – Certified Dialysis Nurse
- CNA – Certified Nursing Assistant
- CNE – Certified Nurse Educator
- CNL – Clinical Nurse Leader
- CNM – Certified Nurse Midwife
- LNC – Legal Nurse Consultant
- OCN – Oncology Nurse Certified
- RNC – Registered Nurse Certified
- SANE – Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner
- TCRN – Trauma Certified Registered Nurse
- TNS – Trauma Nurse Specialist
- WCC – Wound Care Certified
- WCN-C – Wound Care Nurse Certified
- WOCN, WOC – Wound, Ostomy, Continence Nurse
Hospital acronyms and abbreviations
- A&O – Alert and Oriented
- ACLS – Advanced Cardiac Life Support
- AMA – Against Medical Advice
- BLS – Basic Life Support
- C&S – Culture and Sensitivity test
- CCU – Critical Care Unit
- CEU – Continuing Education Units
- CMA – Certified Medical Assistant
- CRT – Certified Respiratory Therapist
- CNO – Chief Nursing Officer
- DNR – Do Not Resuscitate
- DO – Doctor of Osteopathy
- ER – Emergency Room
- H&P – History and Physical
- I&O – Intake and Output
- ICU – Intensive Care Unit
- IM – Internal Medicine
- L&D – Labor and Delivery Unit
- LOC – Level of Consciousness
- MD – Medical Doctor
- MSW – Medical Social Worker
- NICU – Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
- NPO – nothing by mouth (in Latin)
- NRP – Neonatal Resuscitation Program
- OBT – OB Triage Unit
- OR – Operating Room
- OT – Occupational Therapy/Therapist
- PACU – Post Anesthesia Care Unit
- PALS – Pediatric Advanced Life Support
- PCA – Patient Care Assistant
- PCU – Progressive Care Unit
- PPE – Personal Protective Equipment
- PRN – As required (in Latin)
- PT – Physical Therapy/Therapist
- RT – Respiratory Therapy/Therapist
- ST – Speech Therapy/Therapist
- Tele – Telemetry Unit
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Common nursing degrees
- ADN – Associate Degree in Nursing: The ADN degree is considered a two-year college degree. It prepares students to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and become registered nurses (RNs).
- BSN – Bachelor of Science in Nursing: A BSN degree is a four-year college degree. BSN programs include the same course work that ADNs cover, plus additional courses in management and research. Students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree become eligible to take the NCLEX-RN test to get licensed as an RN.
- MSN – Master of Science in Nursing: The MSN degree can take two years or more to complete. For acceptance into an MSN program, students must already have an ADN or BSN degree and a nursing license. A master’s degree prepares students to take certification exams in their specialty and become nurse practitioners (NPs) or advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).
- DNP – Doctor of Nursing Practice: A DNP degree can take two years or more to complete with full-time study. To be accepted into a doctoral program, students must already have an ADN, BSN, or MSN degree and a nursing license. DNP graduates can also become certified as NPs or APRNs.
Nursing degree FAQs
In most cases, the quickest way to become an RN is to enroll in a school with an ADN degree program. Upon graduation, ADN students are eligible to take the RN license exam.
No, you can become a nurse without a bachelor’s degree. To be a nurse, you must graduate from an accredited nursing school and pass a licensing exam. You have many choices when it comes to nursing schools, and BSN programs are only one option. Students who want a faster track might enroll in licensed practical nurse (LPN) or licensed vocational nurse (LVN) diploma programs, or an ADN program.
Yes, in nursing there are many types of bridge programs. Students who want to move from one degree to another can find programs all over the US and also through online universities. Some examples of bridge programs in nursing include:
For more advice on developing your nursing career, head over to Incredible Health’s Nursing Career Resources page.
NCLEX stands for the National Council Licensure Exam. It is a nursing competency test. All U.S. states and Canada require a passing score on NCLEX exam to become licensed as a nurse. There are two versions of the test. LVNs and LPNs must pass the NCLEX-PN. RNs must pass the NCLEX-RN.
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There are hundreds more nursing abbreviations and acronyms out there. From time to time, even nurses may forget one, or have to look something up. So if you come across a term you don’t understand, don’t sweat it. A simple search online may help, or you can always ask a trusted healthcare professional. Check out Incredible Health’s Community for help. We hope this guide has helped!
- “NCLEX and other exams”. ncsbn.org. Accessed September 8, 2022.
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