Nursing Terminology

Below is a list of helpful terminology and acronyms used in the nursing industry.


ACNM: The American Collage of Nurse-Midwives
ADN: Associates Degree in Nursing – the most common first step of nursing education. Takes two years to complete at a college
ADON: Assistant Director of Nursing – is there to always assist and back up the head director when not available or absent
APN: Advanced Practice Nurse – a nurse who is educationally past the post-graduate level


BCEN: Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing
BN: Bachelor in Nursing
BSN: Bachelor of Science in Nursing


CEN: Certified Emergency Nurse
CCU: Critical care unit
CDN: Certified dialysis nurse
Change nurse: A change nurse looks after the immediate functions of a specific unit
CNL: Clinical nurse leader
CNA: Certified nurse assistant
CNM: Certified nurse-midwife
CNP: Clinical nurse specialist
CPM: Certified Professional Midwifes
CPR: Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
Continuous Medical Education: Is an all-encompassing term within a broad spectrum of post-secondary learning activities and programs.


Diploma in Nursing: Hospital based diploma program, takes about three years to complete.
DNP: Doctor of Nursing Practice
DON: Director of nursing is one who oversees that proper care is given to all individuals at their health care facility and usually reports to the CEO or COO of the company.


EMT: Emergency medical technician
ENP: Emergency Nurse Practitioner
ER: Emergency room


FDA: Food and drug administration
Fight nurse: A flight nurse provides pre-hospital emergency assistance, to patients aboard aircrafts and helicopters in life-threatening situations.


Geriatric nurse: Focuses of this nurse is with elderly or older adult patients
Graduate nurse: A nurse that has just graduated from college or a nursing program


Human Growth and Development: Involves areas related to child health


ICU: Intensive care unit
IV: Intravenous


LPN: Licensed practical nurse – needs only complete an accredited nursing program and pass a state board to practice, but must work under physicians.


Mental health: Focuses on psychiatric and or child psychology nursing
Midwifery: providing care to childbearing women during pregnancy
MRI: Magnetic resonance angiography


Neonatal nursing: – nurses that work with newborns up to 28 days old
Nephrology: Study of the kidneys
NCLEX-RN exam: National licensing exam to become a registered nurse
NCLEX-PN exam: National licensing exam to become a practical nurse
NICU: Neonatal intensive care unit
NNP: Neonatal nurse practitioner
NP: Nurse Practitioner
Nurse manager: A nurse manager is a nurse that manages a unit on all levels and will typically report back to a service director.
Nursing agency: Is a type of business that helps nurses find hospitals and other care facilities that are in need of health care professionals, like nurses.
Nursing Board Certifications: These voluntary exams are offered by the board; to those that would like to prove knowledge of a specific specialty and be recognized for it.


Oncology: – Study of cancer
OR: Operating room


Pediatric nurse: A nurse that focuses on working with children patients
Per Diem nurse: Works on a day-to-day basis with no set schedule and under no set contract.
Permanent nurse: – a nurse who works under contract in one location
PEN: Pediatric endocrinology nurse
Physician assistants: Licensed professionals that practice medicine under the supervision of a licensed Physician PICU: Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
PNP: Psychiatric nurse practitioner
Post-op: After operation
Practice setting: – a place where a nurse might work such as a hospital or clinic
Pre-op: Before operation
Psychiatric nurse: Also known as a mental health nurse is one that is specially trained to care for individuals of all ages that suffer from mental illness or distress.
Public health nursing: Centered on theory, practice and specializations.


RN: Registered nurse: – is one who has graduated from college and passed the national license exam.


Service director: A director will usually oversee an entire facility and have other nurse mangers reporting to them regarding the larger organization as a whole.
Scope of Practice: Terminology used by state licensing boards for professions that defines the procedures, actions, and processes that are permitted for the licensed individual.
SICU: Surgical Intensive Care Unit


Travel nurse: – a nurse who works for short periods of time with different health care facilities.


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