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Registration for the Winter 2020 semester begins soon.  Watch your email for more details.
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Psychiatric Nursing (Diploma)

Faculty: Health Sciences
Department: Nursing - Psychiatric
Credits: 90.5
Length: Six semesters
Campuses: Coquitlam
Credential: Diploma
Admission Type: Limited enrolment
Learning Format: Full-time
Offered: Fall, Winter
program overview
The Psychiatric Nursing Diploma Program provides graduates with specialized knowledge and skills to provide safe, comprehensive, holistic care to individuals in a variety of mental health care settings. Each semester builds on foundational concepts and skills to prepare graduates to respond to mental health care needs within the context of families, groups and communities.


IMPORTANT:  The final intake of the Psychiatric Nursing Diploma Program will be Winter (January) 2016.  Applications for the program are now closed.  Students interested in this field should apply to the Bachelor of Science in Psychiatric Nursing program.

curriculum framework

Graduation Requirements:

  • Successful completion of 90.50 credits
  • 25% (22.50 credits) of all coursework must be completed at Douglas College
  • Minimum grade of "C" is required in all gradeable courses

Course Requirements:

Course Number Course Title Credits
Semester I
BIOL 1103 Human Anatomy and Physiology I - or equivalent 3.00
ENGL 1130

Academic Writing - or approved substitution
(course to be completed prior to entering Semester Three)

PHIL 3125 Philosophy for Psychiatric Nurses 3.00
PNUR 1101 Psychiatric Nursing Concepts I  4.50
PNUR 1121 Therapeutic Relations I 1.50
PNUR 1130 Clinical Procedures I 1.50
Total Semester I Credits    16.50
Semester II
BIOL 1203 Human Anatomy and Physiology II - or equivalent 3.00
PNUR 1201 Psychiatric Nursing Concepts II 3.00
PNUR 1221 Therapeutic Relations II 1.50
PNUR 1230 Clinical Procedures II 1.50
PNUR 1250 Psychiatric Nursing Pharmacology I 1.50
PNUR 1261 Psychiatric Nursing Clinical Practice I  5.00
Total Semester II Credits   15.50
Semester III
PNUR 2301 Psychiatric Nursing Concepts III  4.50
PNUR 2321 Therapeutic Relations III 1.50
PNUR 2330 Clinical Procedures III 1.50
PNUR 2351 Psychiatric Nursing Pharmacology II 1.50
PNUR 2361 Psychiatric Nursing Clinical Practice II  5.00
PNUR 4585 Psychiatric Nursing in Addictions and Mental Health 3.00
Total Semester III Credits   17.00
Semester IV
PNUR 3401 Psychiatric Nursing Concepts IV 4.50
PNUR 3421 Therapeutic Relations IV 1.50
PNUR 3430 Clinical Procedures IV 1.50
PNUR 3461 Psychiatric Nursing Clinical Practice III 5.00
PNUR 3341 Group Theory 1.50
 Total Semester IV Credits   14.00
Semester V
PNUR 4503 Comprehensive Geriatric Theory 3.00
PNUR 4572 Psychiatric Nursing Community Concepts 3.00
PNUR 4521 Therapeutic Relations V 1.50
PNUR 4561 Psychiatric Nursing Clinical Practice IV 5.00
PNUR 4573 Psychiatric Nursing of Children and Adolescents 3.00
Total Semester V Credits   15.50
Semester VI
PNUR 4601 Nursing Leadership and Management 3.00
PNUR 4661 Psychiatric Nursing Degree/Diploma Clinical Practice V: Preceptorship 9.00
Total Semester VI Credits   12.00
Total Program Credits   90.50

**Students are required to have credit (“C” grade or higher) in BIOL 1103, BIOL 1203 and ENGL 1130 prior to entering Semester 3.

career transfer pathways

 The program is approved by the Provincial Government and the College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of British Columbia (CRPNBC). Graduates are eligible to apply to the CRPNBC to write the licensure exam and on successful completion apply for a provincial nursing license.

admission requirements

The final intake of the Psychiatric Nursing Diploma program was Winter 2016.  Applications to the program are now closed.

Students who are interested in this field should see the Bachelor of Science in Psychiatric Nursing.

Preferential Admissions
To be considered for a seat in the program, applicants must first meet all the minimum academic admission criteria. Applicants will then be ranked according to the established preferential admission criteria listed below. Preferential Admission ranking commences once the application deadline date has passed. Date of application will be used only when one or more applicants have the same numeric ranking. Applicants are encouraged to contact an Academic Advisor for more information as to how to increase chances for admission into the Psychiatric Nursing Program.

Sections 1.1 and 1.4 are subject to a Psychiatric Nursing Coordinator’s approval prior to assigning points.

The deadline to submit all documents to the Registrar’s Office for consideration of Preferential Admission points must be received no later than February 1 for the Fall intake and June 1 for the Winter intake. Please submit all documents to the following address:

Registrar’s Office – Coquitlam Campus
Attention: Admissions – Psychiatric Nursing Program
1250 Pinetree Way
Coquitlam, BC  V3B 7X3

1.1 Education

Only the highest credential submitted will be assessed for score ranking

The highest credential submitted will be assessed for score ranking. Certificate/citation depends upon length of program, admission requirements, breadth and depth of subject matter.  Applicants who have successfully completed previous credentials from a recognized and accredited institution will receive the following score: 

 Bachelor's Degree   8 points
 Associate Degree/Diploma  5 points
 Douglas College Academic Foundations Certificate  3 points
 Certificate/Citation in a Health Related Field  2 points
 High School Diploma  1 point

Maximum total: 8 points

1.2 Associated Studies/University Transfer Courses

Applicants who have successfully completed an associated studies course or equivalent university transfer course with a minimum grade of “C” will receive points for each course or equivalent up to a maximum of 6 points:

 Biology 1103   2 points
 Biology 1203  2 points
 3-credit UT English  1 point
 Other 3-credit UT course  1 point

Maximum total: 6 points

1.3 Grade 12 Courses

Applicants who have successfully completed a grade 12 course with a minimum grade of “B” will receive 1 point for each course up to a maximum of 3 points:

 Biology 12  1 point
 Foundations of Math 12 or Principles of Math 12 or Precalculus 12  1 point
 Grade 12 Science Course (other than Biology)  1 point

Maximum total: 3 points

1.4  Volunteer and/or Employment Experience

Please complete the Psychiatric Nursing Volunteer/Employment Experience Form for this section. The Psychiatric Nursing Department reserves the right to decide if volunteer and/or employment experience is health related.

Volunteer experience of any type – 100 or greater hours within the last 5 years 
(includes high school Grade 12 work experience course hours) 
 1 point 
Employment experience of any type – 1000 or greater hours within the last 5 years  1 point
Volunteer and/or Employment experience is health related – additional 1 point if required hours
and recency requirement met
 1 point

Maximum total: 3 points

Total of all sections: 20 points

program cost

You can get an average cost for your program - tuition and student fees, books, uniforms, lab fees etc - on the Program Cost page. 

Only programs approved for student loan funding are listed on the Program Cost page. For all other programs, refer to the Tuition Fee page.

curriculum guidelines

Program Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this program and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the program, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

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
  • Medicine/surgery
  • Geriatric Psychiatry
  • Community

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
  • Forensics
  • Child and youth programs
  • General hospitals
  • Geriatric units
  • Substance misuse programs
  • Intermediate care facilities
  • Community mental health and addictions settings
  • Corrections
  • Private practice
  • Education

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
  • self-awareness
  • tolerance, respect for differences
  • integrity
  • 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

tuition deposit

When offered a full-time seat in this program a non-refundable, non-transferable $350 tuition deposit is required.