Where do classes take place?
All classes take place in the state-of-the-art Health Sciences Centre at the Coquitlam Campus. Clinical courses take place in a variety of health care settings around Metro Vancouver.
What's the difference between the degree and the diploma program?
The diploma program takes three years to complete, and will provide you with the specialized knowledge and skills to provide safe, comprehensive and holistic care in a range of mental health contexts. You will be prepared to work in a variety of positions in mental health care.
The four-year degree program includes one year of associated studies, such as Psychology and Microbiology, and three years of psychiatric nursing courses. Graduates of the degree program are prepared for advanced positions in Psychiatric Nursing and are eligible for entry into graduate studies.
When do classes start?
There are two intakes for the degree, online degree completion, and diploma programs: Fall (September) and Winter (January).
How long does the program take to complete?
The Bachelor’s Degree can be completed in four years and the Diploma program can be completed in three years. Length will vary for the degree completion program, depending on how many courses are needed.
Can I study part-time?
At this time our programs are not offered via part time studies; they have been designed to be taken as full-time study. However, electives can be taken part-time; students who take the associated studies courses in advance of entering the psychiatric nursing programs will have a reduced course load.
Can I work while I study?
It is not recommended; the time commitment needed for this program makes it difficult for psychiatric nursing students to work while studying.
What courses will I take?
You will take classroom and clinical practice courses related to communication theory and techniques, psychiatric nursing theory and practice, psychomotor/clinical procedure skills, pharmacology, group theory and practice, and courses that are specific to psychiatric nursing practice settings (such as acute inpatient psychiatry, long term and community psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry, mental health and addictions, forensics, children and adolescents). You will also take a variety of associated studies courses to increase your scope and breadth of knowledge to practice in the psychiatric nursing profession (human anatomy and physiology, ethics, English, psychology).
What kind of clinical practice experiences will I complete?
Clinical practice experiences are offered in the following areas:
- Acute and long-term psychiatry
- Geriatric Psychiatry
What are the demands of the program?
Scheduled class and clinical time is approximately 29-34 hours per week, plus additional hours of homework and preparation outside of class. During the final practicum period, you will be working full-time in the clinical practice setting.
Can I switch from the diploma into the degree program?
Yes, if there is a seat available and eligibility criteria are met.
Where do Psychiatric Nurses work?
Psychiatric Nurses work in a wide variety of settings, including:
- Psychiatric units in general hospitals
- Hospital emergency rooms
- Child and youth programs
- General hospitals
- Geriatric units
- Substance misuse programs
- Intermediate care facilities
- Community mental health and addictions settings
- Private practice
For more information on employment opportunities, see Employment.
Where in the world can RPNs work?
In Canada, Registered Psychiatric Nurses practice in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and the Yukon Territory. RPNs (or equivalent) practice in many of the Commonwealth countries. RPNs do not practice in the United States or the eastern Canadian provinces because these areas do not have distinct regulatory bodies for RPNs.
What do Psychiatric Nurses do?
Registered Psychiatric Nurses (RPNs) are nurses who specialize in psychiatric or mental health care. They may perform standard nursing functions but also possess the clinical knowledge and skills required in mental health care settings. RPNs are able to assess patient needs, provide counselling and develop treatment plans. They may be involved in treatment or crisis intervention on a regular basis - tasks requiring excellent interpersonal skills. Douglas College offers specialized education in all of these areas and emphasizes real-world practices in learning laboratories and work-setting placements.
How much do Psychiatric Nurses earn?
Registered Psychiatric Nurses earn wages comparable to that of Registered Nurses (RNs). Most RPNs are members of a union, such as the Union of Psychiatric Nurses, the B.C. Nurses’ Union, or the Health Sciences Association. For more info, see the current wage grid for the Union of Psychiatric Nurses.
What’s the difference between Nurses and Psychiatric Nurses?
Registered Psychiatric Nurses are governed under the Health Professions Act along with other nursing bodies and health professionals in this province. We do not cover the areas of obstetrics or pediatrics in our program, but do cover general medical/surgical nursing. Our programs are distinct from General Nursing programs.
Can an RN apply for the BSPN Degree Completion Program?
No, RNs cannot apply at this time as the BSPN Degree Completion program is reviewing admission criteria.
Is this program right for me?
Successful Psychiatric Nurses tend to have the following qualities:
- sensitivity and empathy
- tolerance, respect for differences
- good listening and observational skills
- collaborative and teamwork skills
- aptitude in math and science
- proficient written and verbal communication skills
- physical, mental and emotional fitness
- reasonable manual dexterity
- time and stress management skills
- basic computer proficiency
- commitment to lifelong learning
As a psychiatric nursing student, you will build on these qualities to develop the skills, knowledge, attitudes, and competencies to become a professional Psychiatric Nurse.
The College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of BC provides more detail in their Requisite Skills and Abilities document.