Psychiatric Nursing

Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated July 4, 2022

Questions and answers for Psychiatric Nursing advanced diploma program.

As a student in the Psychiatric Nursing advanced diploma program, you will learn how to help clients with mental illness, psychiatric disorders, and developmental and /or cognitive difficulties to function at their maximum potential. Mental health promotion and primary health care are emphasized.

With the small numbers of students in each intake, our program is known for its highly interactive and supportive environment. In addition, half of the credit hours are allocated to clinical practice education to well prepare you for your upcoming career in mental health.

The program is approved by the Registered Psychiatric Nurses Association of Saskatchewan (RPNAS).

Registered Psychiatric Nurses (RPNs) form the largest single group of regulated professionals in Canada who provide mental health services. Their expertise and interest are specific in the areas of mental, social and developmental health and disorders. Registered psychiatric nurses are actively involved in assessing needs, developing coping skills, and planning, implementing and evaluating programs to meet the needs of clients affected by mental illness, psychiatric disorders, developmental and/or cognitive difficulties.
Yes, psychiatric nurses work in a variety of acute, long term care and community settings. In addition to a focus on mental health and wellness, your education will prepare you to complete a variety of nursing skills including intravenous initiation, foley catheter and nasogastric tube insertion, blood product administration, and care of peripherally inserted central catheters.
Psychiatric nurses are registered and practice in the western Canadian provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia and in the Yukon Territory.
The program balances theory with clinical practice education. Theory-based courses provide a strong foundation of knowledge, while practical labs, simulated learning, and clinical practice education offer students practice to prepare for professional experience. The evaluative tools utilized by the program include case studies, discussions, presentations (individual and group), reflective journals, portfolios, academic papers, etc.
The program utilizes the first qualified first admitted approach and accepts 40 students annually with a September start date. If you are interested in the program you are encouraged to apply early.
Yes, you can apply to the program while in grade twelve (if you feel you will meet the admission requirements). We will need your high school transcripts as soon as possible.
Yes, ACCUPLACER is used by the Psychiatric Nursing advanced diploma program.

Year one of the program is delivered at the Regina and Saskatoon campuses and utilizes long-term care sites within Regina and Saskatoon.

Year two of the program is delivered in the satellite campuses of North Battleford, Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Saskatoon and Swift Current via Zoom and includes a significant amount of clinical practice education in acute and community health care agencies. Students are required to relocate to a satellite campus in year two and where possible, students are placed at the site they identify as their preference.

Year three (four months in length) sees our students at settings throughout the province/western Canada and we work with students to determine the best opportunities to hone their nursing skills.

Students are encouraged to take equivalent science and sociology courses (three credit) prior to starting the program. Transfer of credit will be granted for courses that meet 75% of learning outcomes for equivalent courses in the psychiatric nursing program. Our program head can assist you with choosing the right courses if you are interested in getting a jump start on your studies.

Options include:

Saskatchewan Polytechnic

  • BIOL 102 Anatomy and Physiology 1
  • BIOL 103 Anatomy and Physiology 2
  • ENGL 101 Critical Reading and Writing
  • SOCI 171 Culture and Diversity in Canadian Society

University of Regina

  • KIN 260 Human Anatomy (including lab)
  • KIN 267 Human Physiology 1
  • KIN 268 Human Physiology 2
  • PSYC 210 Developmental Psychology

Athabasca University

  • Biology 235
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology (6 credits)


  • Indigenous studies

Yes, transfer of credit is available from the Saskatchewan Collaborative Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program University of Regina, Bachelor of Science in Nursing University of Saskatchewan, and Licensed Practical Nursing diploma program Saskatchewan Polytechnic (2008 onward) for the majority of first year courses. Your course load for year one would be reduced to:

  • NRSG 100 Promotion to Psychiatric Praxis
  • NRSG 101 Introduction to Psychiatric Nursing Concepts
  • NRSG 109 Interpersonal Partnerships
  • PSYC 163 Healthy Growth and Development

Our program head can answer any questions you may have about the transfer of credit process or will discuss options with you if you received your education at another Canadian University/Polytechnic/College.

At present, the program is offered on a full-time basis. However, students can complete a variety of first year courses prior to starting the program to encourage flexibility and work-life balance for our students.

Information on purchasing textbooks and course manuals will be provided when you register and at our information session. Material is available for purchase online, by phone, or in person. The Saskatchewan Polytechnic bookstore will carry all materials that you require. You will also be required to purchase a stethoscope and uniforms.

The Psychiatric Nursing advanced diploma program length is 2,145 hours and 143 credit units. Graduates qualify to receive the advanced diploma credential awarded by Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s internal credentialing framework policy 114 (pdf).

Upon program completion, graduates qualify to write the Registered Psychiatric Nursing of Canada Examination (RPNCE). Graduates who pass the RPNCE qualify to register with the Registered Psychiatric Nurses Association of Saskatchewan (RPNAS) or any western Canadian regulatory body.

Saskatchewan Polytechnic created an internal credentialing framework that categorizes a program’s credential based on the length (in hours) and credit units. Each credit unit is equal to 15 hours. The Psychiatric Nursing advanced diploma program has 375 hours and 25 credits therefore it falls into the Saskatchewan Polytechnic framework at an advanced diploma credential. This has no effect on entry-to-practice credential which currently requires a minimum of a diploma. For more information view our Credentials policy 114 (pdf) and our Credentials Procedures 114 (pdf).

The Psychiatric Nursing advanced diploma curriculum has an enhanced emphasis on psychiatric nursing assessments and interventions for complex comorbidities as well as advanced psychomotor medical/nursing skills for higher acuity patients.

As of Sept 2013, Saskatchewan Polytechnic is offering the Bachelor of Psychiatric Nursing degree completion for graduates of a recognized psychiatric nursing program. Please refer to the Bachelor of Psychiatric Nursing degree completion web page for updates.