Guide: Nursing Abbreviations

Our guide to nursing abbreviations lists the common degree, credentials, certifications, and job abbreviations in the nursing profession. The nursing profession is filled with abbreviations. It can be quite confusing. So, we have compiled a list to help you. Below are some of the degrees and other abbreviations used in nursing. This is not a comprehensive list, but it will get you started.


Online degree programs suit not only second-career aspiring nurses (about to enter the industry for the first time but working elsewhere) and new nursing students, but also currently working nurses wanting to upgrade their education. With modern technologies, even a physically-oriented career such as nursing can be taught online or via other remote means, such as live TV or satellite feeds.

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Practicums can often be completed in healthcare environments local to the student. For first-time aspiring nurses not in another career, an associate’s degree or diploma in nursing is the starting point. However, these are not as commonly available online compared to bachelor’s or graduate nursing programs.


Nursing students will potentially encounter two categories of certificates: (1) academic certificate programs, where credits may count towards degrees; and (2) professional industry-recognized certification/ licensing/ registration. Preparation for exams of the latter could be available as an academic certificate program. Academic nursing certificate programs are more likely to be at the graduate rather than undergraduate level, and sometimes require at least a master’s in nursing for admission.

  • NCLEX-PN = National Council Licensure Examination Practical Nurse
  • PND = Practical Nursing Diploma


Of the schools covered above, online associate’s degrees in nursing are rather rare, with only a handful of nursing schools offering such programs. So for the present time, it’s likely that a first-time aspiring nurse will have to take a traditional on-campus nursing program at the associate degree or diploma level. However, this can usually be followed up with an RN-to-BSN type of degree-completion program, and in some cases RN-to-MSN.

  • AAS = Associate of Applied Science
  • AASN = Associate of Applied Science in Nursing
  • ADN = Associate Degree in Nursing
  • AS = Associate of Science
  • ASN = Associate of Science in Nursing
  • NCLEX-RN = National Council Licensure Examination Registered Nurse


A bachelor’s degree in nursing is one of the more frequent types of online nursing degree types, especially the “RN to BSN” degree-completion programs. These programs are designed to allow currently licensed RNs who hold a diploma or associate’s degree in nursing to study for a BSN (BS in Nursing) while holding down their nursing job. The net outcome is that they can progress in their career and be able to work and pay for it, simultaneously.

  • BS = Bachelor of Science
  • BSN = BS in Nursing
  • NCLEX-RN = National Council Licensure Examination Registered Nurse


Master’s degrees in nursing are typically an MSN (Master of Science in Nursing), possibly with a choice of tracks/ specializations. They can also be “transition” degrees, such as an “RN to MSN”, in which current RNs with an associate’s degree or diploma in nursing can obtain both a BSN and an MSN as part of a joint academic program. Having a Master’s in Nursing opens up numerous advanced career opportunities, including educator, executive/ administrator, advanced practice, and more. Additional professional certification may be part of the effort.

  • MS = Master of Science
  • MSN = Master of Science in Nursing


The most common type of nursing doctorate is the DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice), although there are PhD programs as well. The DNP degree typically offers students with an MSN the opportunity to further their career with one of several Nurse Practitioner specializations.

  • DNP = Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • PhD = Doctoral Degree in Nursing

Nursing Credentials

  • ACNP = Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • ANP = Adult Nurse Practitioner
  • APRN = Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
  • CNS = Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • FNP = Family Nurse Practitioner
  • GNP = Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
  • LPN = Licensed Practical Nurse
  • LVN = Licensed Vocational Nurse
  • NP = Nurse Practitioner
  • PNP = Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
  • RN = Registered Nurse
  • TCRN = Trauma Certified Registered Nurse


  • AACRN = Advanced HIV/AIDS Certified Registered Nurse
  • ACRN = HIV/AIDS Certified Registered Nurse
  • AFN-BC = Advanced Forensic Nurses – Board Certified
  • AGN-BC = Advanced Genetic Nurses – Board Certified
  • AHN-BC = Advanced Holistic Nurses – Board Certified
  • AGAC-NP = Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • AGPC-NP = Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • ALNC = Advanced Legal Nurse Consultant
  • CBCN = Certified Breast Cancer Care Nurse
  • CCRP = Certified Clinical Research Professionals
  • CDN = Certified Dialysis Nurse
  • CEN = Certified Emergency Nurses
  • CFCN = Certified Foot Care Nurses
  • CFRN = Certified Flight Registered Nurses
  • CGRN = Certified Gastroenterology Registered Nurses
  • CHRN = Certified Hyperbaric Registered Nurses
  • CHPCA = Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Administrator
  • CNA = Certified Nursing Assistant
  • CNE = Certified Nurse Educator
  • CNL = Clinical Nurse Leader
  • CNM = Certified Nurse-Midwife
  • CNML = Certified Nurse Manager and Leaders 
  • CNO = Chief Nursing Officer
  • CPSN = Certified Plastic Surgical Nurses 
  • CRN = Certified Radiologic Nurses
  • CRNA = Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
  • DNP = Doctor of nursing practice
  • HWNC-BC = Board Certified Health and Wellness Nurse Coaches
  • ICU = Intensive Care Unit Nurse
  • NA = Nursing aid or nursing assistant
  • NC-BC = Nurse Coach Board Certified
  • NE-BC = Nurse Executive Board Certified
  • NEA-BC = Nurse Executive Advanced Board Certified
  • NI = Nursing Informatics
  • NIC = Neonatal Intensive Care Nurses
  • NNP = Neonatal Nurse Practitioners
  • OCN = Oncology Certified Nurse
  • ONC = Certified Orthopaedic Nurses
  • ONP = Oncology Nurse Practitioners
  • PACU = Post-Anesthesia Care Unit Nurse
  • PHNA = Advanced Public Health Nurses 
  • PHNA-BC = Advanced Public Health Nurses – Board Certified
  • PMHNP = Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • PMHS = Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialists
  • PRN = Pro re nata (per diem nurse)
  • PNP = Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
  • PNP-AC = Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
  • SANE-A = Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners – Adult/Adolescent
  • SANE-P = Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners – Pediatric
  • SCRN = Stroke Certified Registered Nurses
  • WHNP = Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

Other Nursing Roles and Jobs

In addition to the above-profiled occupations, there are numerous nursing roles. We’ve compiled a unique list and their nursing abbreviations. This list is not comprehensive but gives you some of the scope available to you for a career in nursing.

  1. Advanced Population Health
  2. Cardiac Care Nursing
  3. Case Manager
  4. Charge Nurse
  5. Clinical Nurse Specialist
  6. Community/Public/Home Health Nursing
  7. Critical Care Nursing
  8. Emergency Nursing
  9. Family Nurse Practitioner
  10. Family Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse
  11. Flight/Trauma/Transport Nursing
  12. Forensic Nursing
  13. Genetics Nursing
  14. Gerontological Nursing
  15. Gynecology/Obstetric Nursing
  16. Health Care Policymaker
  17. Health Systems Leadership and Informatics
  18. Highest level of patient care
  19. Home Health Nursing
  20. Hyperbaric Nursing
  21. Immunology and Allergy Nursing
  22. Infection Control Nursing
  23. Infectious Disease Nursing
  24. Infusion Nursing/Intravenous Therapy Nursing
  25. Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Nurse
  26. Medical Case Management
  27. Medical-Surgical Nursing
  28. Medical and Uniformed Services Nursing
  29. Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing
  30. Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
  31. Neurosurgical Nursing
  32. Nurse Administrator
  33. Nurse Attorney
  34. Nurse Case Manager
  35. Nurse Coaches
  36. Nurse Educator
  37. Nurse Executive
  38. Nurse-Midwifery
  39. Nurse Supervisor
  40. Obstetric and Gynecological Nursing
  41. Occupational Health Nursing
  42. Oncology Nursing
  43. Operating Room Nursing
  44. Organ Procurement and Transplant
  45. Orthopedic Nursing
  46. Pediatric Nursing
  47. Perioperative Nursing
  48. Pharmaceutical Nursing
  49. Post-Anesthesia Care Nurse
  50. Psychiatric Nursing
  51. Private Duty Nursing
  52. Public Health Nurse
  53. Pulmonary Nursing
  54. Radiology Nursing
  55. Registered Dental Nursing
  56. Registered Nurse (RN)
  57. Renal Nursing
  58. School Nurse
  59. Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners
  60. Space Nursing
  61. Staff Nurse
  62. Sub-Acute Nursing
  63. Substance Abuse Nursing
  64. Surgery/Post Anesthesia/ Recovery
  65. Trauma Nursing
  66. Travel Nursing
  67. Women’s Health Nurse


The following list includes nursing associations and credentialing bodies with their nursing abbreviations. It is by no means a comprehensive directory of nursing associations, but rather a few that you may either be interested in or run across more commonly than other associations.


Well over a million new jobs in nursing and nursing-related occupations are expected to be available between 2020 and 2030, according to the BLS’s Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) Web pages. BLS’ OOH Web pages profile the following nursing-relation occupations — most of which require a diploma in nursing or higher, and professional certification:

Learn more about each occupation and related careers by clicking the links above, which will take you to job profile pages on the BLS OOH Web site.