A registered psychiatric nurse (RPN) has specialized knowledge to address the complex relationships among mental, emotional, and physical health, as well as the influence of social factors, culture and spirituality. They care for people of all ages experiencing issues related to mental health, substance use or behavioural addictions, both in health care facilities and in the community. After completing a recognized 3 or 4-year program in psychiatric nursing and passing a national exam, a student can apply for registration with the College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of BC. Some registered psychiatric nurses continue to study and receive post-graduate degrees in psychiatric nursing and other related fields.

Someone who is registered with the College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of BC can use the title “registered psychiatric nurse,” “psychiatric nurse,” or “nurse.”

What does a registered psychiatric nurse do?

A registered psychiatric nurse has the skills to make an advanced mental health assessment, engage in therapeutic relationships, plan mental health and addiction care, facilitate therapeutic groups, help clients develop life skills, respond to the pharmaceutical needs of people with mental illness, and intervene to help resolve crisis. Often people with mental health, substance use or addictions issues face physical health challenges, and registered psychiatric nurses have the skills to provide complex care, including care for physical conditions. They are able provide wound care, intravenous procedures and ostomy care, for example.

How do registered psychiatric nurses keep their skills up to date?

Registered psychiatric nurses must renew their registration every year. They must also conduct a self-assessment of their skills and learning needs, and develop and act on an annual learning plan. Registered psychiatric nurses must also have practised at least 1400 hours over the previous five years in order to demonstrate that their skills are up to date. This information is monitored by the College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of BC.

What happens when I first visit a registered psychiatric nurse? 

All registered psychiatric nurses practise according to CRPNBC Standards of Practice and relevant legislation that direct their practice. The scope of practice for registered psychiatric nurses is described in Scope of Practice for Registered Psychiatric Nurses: Standards, Limits and Conditions and professional and practice standards. These requirements assist nurses to provide safe, competent and ethical care.

How can I find a registered psychiatric nurse?

Registered psychiatric nurses work within the healthcare system, or as private practitioners. They work in hospital, clinics, correctional services, homecare services, counselling services, educational institutions, and in many kinds of facilities. If you want to find out if your nurse is licensed by the College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of BC, you can visit their website www.crpnbc.ca.

How do I pay for a registered psychiatric nurse?

If you receive care from a registered psychiatric nurse who is employed by a health care agency, you generally do not need to pay the nurse who is paid by their employer. However, sometimes services may be provided with a fee through an agency. Self-employed nurses generally charge a fee for their services.

What if I have concerns about the care I received from a registered psychiatric nurse?

As a patient you have the right to expect a professional standard of care from your registered psychiatric nurse. If you think this has not happened, please contact:

fax: 604.899.0794
Mail: 900-200 Granville St., Vancouver, BC V6C 1S4

Where can I find more information about registered psychiatric nursing?

Visit http://www.bccnp.ca


Doctor checking woman's blood pressure in exam room smiling

Group of doctors talking about a patient's care. Patient is in the foreground.

nursing home